Wisconsin’s open pit mine bill passed 17 – 16. Next stop: Court

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Wisconsin’s state senate approved an open pit mine bill with a one vote margin yesterday: 17-16. The bill will next be taken up by the state assembly where a GOP majority will pass it. It then travels to Scott Walker’s desk for his signature and it is widely predicted to land in court to face lawsuits.

Though the legislative process is ugly, the protest process is not. Visiting tribe members and citizens filled the rotunda with drumming, beauty, song, and solidarity:

This photo is from Jenna Pope. [More at her facebook profile and her blog, JennaPope.com]

Below are the comments I shared online that resonated the most with fellow netizens:

WI Senate is still debating the WI mine bill. The routine goes like this: Amendments are put up [17 in all], the GOP tables them and all the Dems can do is offer up more amendments because they are 1 vote short of what they need. So why do it? They are educating you about the bill. They’ve let us know that the WI GOP mine bill will mandate filling in of wetlands. They’re letting us know that the bill will land in court immediately, for one reason, because the Army Corp of Engineers is being ignored and they will have great difficulty syncing federal regulations with this bill written by a mining corporation. And there is more and more and more information to share….

A farmer from Sen.Vinehout’s district compared the mine deal to myth of Jacob and Esau – Wisconsin selling its birthright for a bowl of pottage

The fact of the matter is that this legislature set the stage for the way this bill was dealt with for the next year. The company intent can be summed up in 5 words: give us what we want. They have been served well. The public has not. – Sen Jauch on the mine bill, speaking on the WI Senate flr. just now

The floor discussion concluded with a hollow statement from the mine bill’s main sponsor, Senator Tom Tiffany. He said that he was very offended that somebody during the debate said that he is not an environmentalist to which individuals in the senate gallery laughed and groaned. Seemingly offering up his environmentalist credentials, Tiffany spoke of upgrading the boat motors he uses in his tourism business near Rhinelander and of how modern environmental protections have cleaned up toxins from rivers. He repeated the name of his business so often that online commenters wondered if it was an advertising ploy. He said we can have both a clean environment and jobs because we have “advanced technology” but he didn’t offer up more information on what wonder technology can protect pristine marshlands from sulfuric acid or why it is that Wisconsin would have to operate under stripped down regulations to use that technology.

Somewhere in his statement he said there is a miner on the flag of Wisconsin but I apparently blocked it out (I suppose that was too much). I learned that from somebody later.

After the bill was passed, there were loud calls from the gallery. This tweet from @occupyphoenix describes the scene:

Police mass in gallery sections expecting reactions to Mining Bill passing 17-16 and shouts of “Shame”, “This is War” yelled out #wimine

The yelling from the gallery was heard via Wisconsin Eye’s broadcast and more than one of my facebook friends said it felt very good to hear those voices coming through their computer speakers.

Midwest Advocates released a statement which included these words from Mike Wiggins of the Bad River tribe:
‘Although this has been a long and difficult two years, it is the equivalent of the blink of an eye for our people. We aren’t going anywhere and we have a long history of defending our way of life.’

PR Watch has information on the over $15 million dollars that cleared a path for the mining bill and more..

Personal note:

I thank each of the Democratic Party Senators from Wisconsin, GOP Senator Dale Schultz, the citizens both online and in the Capitol for their opposition to Wisconsin’s new open pit mining bill. Special thanks also to the bloggers, the ardent environmentalists, the faceboookers and tweeters and the journalists who all did their respective jobs to the best of their abilities.

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