Sierra Club urges Wisconsin lawmakers to repeal Gogebic mining law

Wisconsin Gazette

The Sierra Club on March 30 renewed its call for the Wisconsin Legislature to repeal 2013 Act 1, the measure written by Gogebic Taconite to enable its now-abandoned proposal. The measure gutted environmental protections to ease the way for the project.

The Sierra Club in a statement issued on March 30 said the measure should be repealed in its entirety.

Said the environmental advocacy group: the iron mining law is based on the scientific falsehood that iron mining cannot cause acid mine drainage caused by the presence of sulfide minerals. Numerous independent geologic studies have proven that there are significant quantities of sulfide minerals in the Penokees at the proposed Gogebic Taconite (GTac) mine site. This fact proves that the reductions of environmental protections along with severe limits on the public’s right to participate and challenge permits were unjustified.    

“GTac has abandoned its proposal after demanding certainty in permitting that only this law could give it. That fact gives the Legislature a rare opportunity to fix the huge mistake it made when it approved such damaging legislation based on false information. GTac lied to the public and the legislature to get its way and made a lot of promises it couldn’t keep.  Let’s fix this law now before the next fly-by-night company shows up,” said Dave Blouin, Sierra Club John Muir Chapter mining committee chair.

The ferrous mining law was overwhelming opposed at each public hearing held by the state. And more than 75 statewide, local and national conservation and environmental organizations — the Sierra Club, Wisconsin Resources Protection Council, Trout Unlimited, the Wisconsin Association of Lakes, the Izaak Walton League of Wisconsin, the River Alliance of Wisconsin, the Penokee Hills Education Project, the Mining Impact Coalition of Wisconsin, Clean Wisconsin, the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters and the Natural Resources Defense Council — opposed the legislation.

Polling showed a majority of state residents opposed the law, which established broad and comprehensive reductions in environmental protections and citizen involvement to enable the mining proposal. The law, for example, established that the destruction of wetlands through mining and for dumping wastes into, was presumed necessary.

The law also reduced protections for lakes, streams, groundwater and air.