Don't believe the echo-chamber -- Wisconsin's network of dysfunctional news outlets that all crow Walker talking points in tandem. Walker has an extremely divisive agenda lined up. He's already shared it with his out-of-state multinational billionaire base. You know, the folks that underwrite his criminal defense fund. He needs lots of money.
Walker is about to exploit his economic disaster and massive job failure to justify more "divide and conquer" -- a new mining bill that relaxes environmental standards for multinational out-of-state corporate interests that represent some of the most toxic polluters on the planet.
But Wisconsin's dysfunctional news media is all repeating the corporatist mantra, "don't worry, be happy -- Scott Walker isn't doing to do anything 'controversial', he's promised!"
Nothing that Scott Walker states should be taken at face value -- it is not hard to demonstrate that Walker has a serious problem with the truth. Nothing the media proclaims about Scott Walker should be taken at face value either -- most of the stories that echo across the state are full of disinformation and serve one purpose -- to prop up Scott Walker.
The media is lying about mining. First, they proclaim it is not "controversial" because Walker is going to avoid anything that would be divisive. Therefore, if Scott Walker says that mining is "job 1" in the upcoming legislative session, it can't be decisive, right?
And while the only thing keeping a mining company from opening a mine in Wisconsin is that these companies cannot demonstrate the mines are safe and don't harm the environment, Scott Walker and the media proclaim its a JOBS bill anyhow! This belies the facts -- mining is not a huge jobs creator nor does it grow a regions economy:
We’ve heard this story before—mining as an engine of growth. Just look at the poverty in Appalachia (coal), the Ozarks (lead), the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (iron and copper) or Minnesota’s Iron Range. “In the United States,” says economist Thomas Power, “the historic mining regions have become synonymous with persistent poverty, not prosperity.” Economists call this the “resource curse.” This refers to the paradox that countries (and communities) with an abundance of natural resources have less economic growth than countries (and communities) without these natural resources. Over the last several decades the evidence shows that dependence on mining did not enable U.S. mining communities to perform better than other U.S. communities. “In fact,” says Power, “mining-dependent communities lagged significantly behind the average for the rest of the nation.”There are many other issues that a new mining bill is about as well, but in order to manufacture public support, the media misleadingly presents a false dichotomy -- pitting jobs against the environment, misleading that Wisconsin has no choice but to promote one at the expense of another.
Modern mineral mining is very machinery-intensive, creating far fewer jobs than promised. The most competitive mines extract more minerals with fewer workers. Rio Tinto’s iron ore mines in the Pilbara region of Western Australia have invested heavily in robotoics, including driverless trucks and automated drilling. GTAC’s Matt Fifield has said that his taconite mine could compete with established mines despite the difficulty of mining such steep and narrow deposits by operating more efficiently and relying heavily on automation.
If GTAC’s job projections are overstated, they completely ignore the impact of the proposed mine on existing jobs in tourism, forestry, the Lake Superior fishery and the subsistence economies of the Lake Superior Ojibwe tribes that have treaty-protected harvest rights in the ceded territories of Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota.
The same media gives Scott Walker a free pass on the results of his divisive economic agenda -- not only does Wisconsin have one of the most dismal economic growth rates in the nation, lagging behind every other state in the Midwest and lagging behind most of the country, but now a prominent business journal has projected Wisconsin to have the second-worse job growth in the nation.
There are actually many reasons Badger State citizens should be concerned about Walker's give-aways to the mining industry and relaxing environmental standards and freeing mining corporations from responsibility for their operations a major issue that impacts us all.
Taconite Mining is deadly to miners and the community. 8% of babies born in the the Lake Superior Region iron-mining region have toxic levels of mercury in their bodies (.pdf):
February 2012 research released from Minnesota Department of Health showed that 8% infants born in the Lake Superior region (including areas in Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin) have toxic levels of mercury in their bodies, above the federal EPA limit of 5.8 micrograms per liter. Some of the tested infants had levels as high as 211 micrograms per liter.4 Both mercury exposure and lead exposure have been linked to health issues for older children, teens and adults, including problems with infertility, autoimmune disease (such as rheumatoid arthritis) and increased risk of heart attack and stroke.Media Matters, progressive research and information center, has more in an important article titled, "Wisconsin State Journal Buries Health And Environmental Risks In Mining Bill Coverage."
Among the concerns Media Matters documents, and that Lee Enterprises/Wisconsin State Journal ant the rest of Wisconsin' media-echo chamber mislead about, are contained in a 2-page factsheet about last year's mining bill -- the starting point for this year's push -- AB 426/SB 488: Iron Mining Bill
Previous Taconite Mining Legislation In Wisconsin Would Have Rolled Back Environmental Protections. From a Clean Wisconsin fact sheet describing dangerous provisions in an Iron Mining Bill (AB 426/SB 288):
Rolls back commonsense environmental protections
The fact sheet has much more -- all information that Lee Enterprises, Journal Communications, Gannet, Associated Press, and Clear Channel do not want you to know. Please download and share and don't trust anything you read about this in your local newspapers.
- Allows mining corporations to dump toxic mine waste into sensitive wetlands and floodplains. (p. 23)
- Allows mining corporations to draw down water levels from rivers, lakes, streams and groundwater. (pp. 31-33)
- Significantly weakens wetland protections. (pp. 28-29)
- Allows iron mining law to supersede all other environmental regulations, unlike current law which gives deference to existing environmental laws, and unlike laws all other industry is subject to. (p. 18)
- Allows DNR to provide an exemption for a mining corporation from any requirements it sees fit. (p. 15)
Despite what Scott Walker and the Wisconsin media echo-chamber want you to believe, there is nothing "moderate" about their approach to mining.