A new press release from the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters:
Madison – The 2013 version of the open-pit mining bill released today is strikingly similar to last session’s AB 426 that was defeated. The new Open-Pit Mining Bill is a flawed, extreme, one-sided bill that will subject our waters to contamination from toxins like arsenic, lead and mercury.
The bill exempts mining companies from following environmental standards, a fact that the main bill author validated (See http://www.wiseye.org/Programming/Mining.aspx, 30:01). When a reporter asked, “Is it fair to say that the bill does allow the DNR to exempt companies from environmental standards?” Senator Tom Tiffany, lead bill author, replied, “Yep, that is accurate.”
“The bill exempts mining polluters from following the laws that every other Wisconsin business, local government, and resident must follow. In a single bill, our hunting and fishing traditions, our tourism economy, and the health of our citizens are placed in jeopardy,” said Anne Sayers, Program Director for Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters.
Despite repeated claims by bill authors at the press conference that the bill does not weaken environmental standards, it absolutely does. The bill memo released by the neutral Legislative Council outlines 4 important areas where state natural resource laws will be weakened under this new bill:
- Public rights and interest in navigable water.
- Flood flow capacity of a stream.
- The rights of riparian owners.
- Degradation of water quality.
The bill also allows a full 40 percent of mining revenues to be directed away from local communities where mining occurs and into the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, an agency recently found to have misappropriated $19 million in taxpayer dollars.
“As Wisconsinites, we sit on the shores of the world’s largest freshwater resource. We are not going to sacrifice our water for the sake of an out-of-state mining company looking to make a quick buck.”
Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to electing conservation leaders, holding decision makers accountable and encouraging lawmakers to champion conservation policies that effectively protect Wisconsin’s public health and natural resources.