There's a point at which "campaign donations" become bribes, so I'm just calling it what it is.
We're now well on our way to rendering obsolete any pesky environmental protections that would interefere with an open pit mine here in FitzWalkerStan. It cost mining interests $15.6 million over 2 years to make their profit-driven dream into a reality.
As documented by the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, special interest groups that support the mining bill “have contributed $15.6 million to the Republican-controlled legislature and GOP Governor Scott Walker” between 2010 and June 2012. They also found that mining deregulation interests outspent opponents of mining deregulation by 610 to 1.(bolding is mine)
Walker, who has traveled around the state pushing the mining bill as a solution to Wisconsin’s dismal job numbers, received over $11 million from those special interests. Senator Alberta Darling, one of the co-chairs of the powerful Joint Finance Committee through which the mining bill had to pass, has personally received almost half a million dollars. The Committee to Elect a Republican Senate is also on the list of top recipients of pro-mining dollars, receiving $313,413. Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald received $262,735. The list of candidates getting over $50,000 from special interests that support mining deregulation includes Senators; Terry Moulton, Sheila Harsdorf, Leah Vukmir, Jerry Petrowski, Tom Tiffany, Luther Olsen, Frank Lasee, Robert Cowles, and Glenn Grothman.
Dropping coins into coin-operated politicians is nothing new, but mining interests dropped in some pretty major coin to get things their way. Taxpayers, of course, will be ponying up plenty more in the decades to come to try to mitigate the environmental damage that will be done.
The bill just passed our Wisconsin State Senate 17-16 with every single Democrat and 1 lone Republican (Dale Schultz) voting in opposition. The bill will be similarly rammed through the Wisconsin State Assembly which, thanks to gerrymandering, contains so many Republicans that Democrats don't even have to show up for a quorum. In fact, as soon as it was passed by the State Senate, the Assembly Speaker, Robin Vos (R - ILoveMiningCash) slated it for a vote on March 7.
Then, it's on to the desk of Governor Scott Walker who has been shilling for and lying about this mine for over 2 years. Yes, he'll be grinning from ear to ear when he puts his John Hancock on the bill which strips out any of those pesky environmental restrictions that will impede open pit mining or cost the mining company a buck to ensure that our air, water, and land aren't fouled in perpetuity.
Scientists testified last year that millions of gallons of sulfuric acid could be produced if the proposed open pit iron-ore mine was approved. That sulfuric acid would unavoidably leak into the ground water and nearby streams, and would eventually make its way to Lake Superior, the largest freshwater lake in the world. These concerns, based on the geological facts in the ground, have been largely overlooked by proponents of the bill, who say that the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will make the final decision about the environmental impact. But opponents point out that the bill is stripping power from the DNR and shortening their time frame for investigating and ultimately approving any proposed project.Concerns of Native American tribes that would directly be affected by the open pit mine were dismissed, a violation of their treaty.
Tribal leaders from the Bad River and Red Cliff Bands of the Lake Superior Chippewa warn that under federal law it is required that they be consulted regarding any project that could affect their tribal land and water, and their input was not taken into account in the language of this bill. The tribes are considering their legal options.I'm hoping they'll make a federal case out of this since their testimony and protests have been completely ignored (the avalanche of nearly $16 million tends to drown out the voices of people).
Most people incorrectly think that this bill only affects the far northern part of our state, however, it doesn't have any limits:
But the bill’s impact is bigger than one mine. It speeds the approval of new mines across the state, and lessens the power of citizen and community input in the permitting process. Anne Sayers of the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters warns that the bill is “a threat to our safe drinking water, flowing trout streams, and tourism economy.”(bolding is mine)
The bill passed quickly despite protests in the Capitol and shouts from the visitors gallery where recording devices, cameras, T-Shirts with messages, signs, and even hats are prohibited under the tyranny of the Republican majority rules (guns are OK). People in the gallery reported the massing of a huge police presence in the gallery to quickly remove opponents.
After the bill was passed, there were loud calls from the gallery. This tweet from @occupyphoenix describes the scene:Life isn't good here, but we won't give up.
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.
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I don't want to leave you with a bummer, so let me cheer your day with a local reporter "telling the truth" about our foot of snow(preview: "It's snowing and it sucks"). Sorry, the stinking thing won't embed.
Yes, it went out live. To cheers.