And first up to the plate in 2013 -- destroying environmental protection to enable out-of-state mining companies to move in.
How does Scott Walker plan on pushing through the mining bill that failed in 2012?
Just like he told his largest in-state donor, he's going to exploit the economic train-wreck he created for a massive "divide and conquer". He's going to pit jobs against the environment, pretending that Wisconsin has no choice but to promote one at the expense of another and every indication is that a compliant media echo-chamber is going to carry this false dichotomy.
Disturbingly, Walker has a solid track record as a politician that will make false statements. Walker has used "divide and conquer" politics before -- in 2011 he ginned up a budget shortfall, then misled that there was a fiscal crisis, and used the crisis he manufactured to "dropped the bomb" on worker's rights.
Wisconsin has, for the past 15 years, required mining companies to obtain a permits. This approval process requires prospective mining companies prove at least one mine of they type they seek to operate, anywhere in America, has not polluted surface or groundwater. No a single mining company has been able to do this.
This is exactly how Wisconsin’s mining permit process is suppose to work -- it protects the environment. Dubbed, “Prove it First, ” the law allows mining, but requires mining companies to demonstrate that their operations are environmentally safe. But since mining companies cannot demonstrate their mines do not damage the environment and Wisconsin's water supplies and aquifers, these large multinational corporations are screaming, "UNFAIR!"
What these mining companies are actually saying is that their operations cannot meet reasonable environmental scrutiny -- but don't expect to hear that from Wisconsin's pro-Walker echo-chamber.
Wisconsin Mining Association, is leading the charge to repeal the law that puts the burden of proof on mining companies -- demonstrate your plans are save. They claim that Wisconsin's mining permit process prevents new sulfide mine proposals from moving forward.
But remember, it is not just sulfide mining being debated. Largely flying under the radar, the bigger prize may be frac sand mining -- there are environmental and health concerns if Wisconsin expands frac sand mining.
Without any scientific evidence, mining interests cite partially-reclaimed Flambeau metallic sulfide mine in Ladysmith, Wisconsin as an example of "success". But rather than attempt use this to "prove it first", mining lobbyists point to situation as a reason to ,repealing “Prove it First” legislation -- this doesn't pass the smell test. However, there is no scientific evidence to support such claims.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) recently completed an investigation of water quality at the Flambeau Mine site and recommended that “Stream C,” a tributary of the Flambeau River into which Flambeau Mining Company (FMC) has been discharging polluted runoff from the mine site since 1999, be included on its list of “impaired waters” for 2012 for “acute aquatic toxicity” caused by copper and zinc. These illegal discharges of toxic metals are why U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb recently ruled that FMC violated the Clean Water Act on numerous counts.There are many other issues at stake here -- even if Scott Walker and his GOP colleagues replace a permitting process that was hailed as one of the most responsible environmental protection-oriented permitting process in the Nation, there can't change Great Lake compacts and international laws (pdf), treaties with Native American Indians, and federal law. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources also has some jurisdiction.
Each of the four entities with interests, rights, and oversight responsibilities deserves a post devoted to their roles in the mining approval process and safe mining operations. Even if Walker and his cohorts succeed in railroading a new mining approval process that relaxes environmental standards, this is not the final say in if and when large scale mining operations begin in Wisconsin.
Mike Wiggins Jr.,Tribal Chairman of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Ojibwa, was asked last August (2012) whether or a economic jobs crisis justified a new approach to mining approval. He pointed out that tribal leaders have never been included in the negotiations process -- the "fast track" status appears to be for the benefit of and written by mining companies. He stated:
With speed with which that legislative initiative was going, there was no need for them to justify anything. Um, I’m just telling you what GTac said to us.
The thing that we have to look at is that the ore prices are very volatile and extractive industry in general is boom and bust. It is why there are so many abandoned mines right now. The Flambeau mine that operated down in Ladysmith operated, what…7 years? There were many more years of proposed economic gain from that mine in Flambeau [than actually occurred, and they are left with] the potential of 2,000 years of negative environmental impacts.Given that Scott Walker has created a economic crisis with his "divide and conquer" agenda, is massively failing in his campaign promise to create 250,000 jobs, and has a ongoing John Doe probe into the criminality behind his ascent to power closing in, no one benefits more from furthing divisive politics in Wisconsin than Scott Walker.
I think it was Oliver Leopold once said, "You alter the landscape, you alter the people."
In fact, since his criminal defense fund is underwritten by the same billionaires that funded his political career, Walker now owes them double -- once for the monies given to support Walker's politics and again for monies to fight criminal indictment.
Expect some turbulent times ahead as Walker cashes in his chips to reward his financial backers, stay one-step ahead of the law, and continue positioning himself for national politics.