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We knew it would happen. On Friday, March 8, 2013 the corrupt, crooked Republicans in the Wisconsin legislature passed the mining deregulation bill written at the behest of coal mining magnate Chris Cline. By a 58 to 39 party line vote in the Wisconsin Assembly, the giveaway of our resources to that greedy bastard from West Virginia was a done deal.

The bill will be will be signed into law by Governor Scott Walker Today in ceremonies held at Rhinelander and Milwaukee, far away from the area in northwestern Wisconsin where the claimed jobs from the proposed open pit iron mine would be created. One would think that they would want to exult in their victory and celebrate the purported prosperity that will flourish in Iron and Ashland Counties.

So, why not sign the bill in  Hurley? I'm sure the Silver Street crowd would pour out in adoring numbers. I'll tell you why. It's because the Ojibwas, the  Citizens Concerned About the Penokee Mine, the Bad River Watershed Association and people of good heart from around the region would be there to demonstrate under the banner of Idle No More.
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I have been active in the movement to prevent open pit iron mining in the Penokee Range since the topic erupted several years ago. The question of why here, why now is very interesting. Let's face it, we know what they know. Everybody knows that the Wisconsin Chippewa Tribes have retained certain rights under the 19th Century treaties. It was predictable that environmental, spiritual and enlightened business interests would side with the Bad River Tribe's right to protect their watershed. This is the same type of coalition that thwarted Exxon's plan to dig up a metalic sulfide ore body near the Mole Lake Sokaogon Tribe's reservation at the headwaters of the Wolf River.

So, why here, and why now? I can only conclude that this was a deliberate attempt to divide and conquer the people of the state of Wisconsin. The nefarious Walker administration, corrupt as it is, and the Tea Party dominated Legislature predictably strive to cozy up to the big money interests as represented by the American Legislative Exchange Council. Over $15 million in campaign donations to the Republicans is an easy explanation. The bottom line? It is pandering to the racist pleasures of billionaire psychopaths. Remember, the owner of Gogebic Taconite, Chris Cline, owns a 164 foot luxury yacht called "Mine Games". Sick.

They must be stopped. The time has come for the resistance to kick into overdrive. It won't be easy, but a revolution is at hand. ALEC must be itself thwarted, its tax exempt status ended. We start with a constitutional amendment that revokes the Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission supreme court decision of 2010. To that end, I call upon every township, city and county in Wisconsin to pass resolutions calling for that amendment. We must vote the Republicans out in 2014. Get on the ball here, folks. Time's a wasting. Forward!

LETTER TO THE EDITOR OF THE RHINELANDER STAR JOURNAL BY SUSAN SOMMER OF PHELPS

U.S. Steel was willing and ready to sell the conservation rights on 16,000 acres of land along the Penokee Range through negotiation with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) in 2003, including their mineral rights.

This is the same land Gogebic Taconite (GTAC) wants to mine; the same land for which GTAC has secured an option to obtain the mineral rights from current owners RGGS Land and Minerals (Texas) and La Point Mining Company (Minnesota); the same land that drove the “Mining for Jobs” bill, SB1 and AB1.

In 2003, TNC applied for Forest Legacy Program funds to help purchase the conservation easement from U.S. Steel. Land and Water Conservation funds were to be used to help the Forest Service buy another 6,000 acres. The resulting easements would have maintained the recreational uses and timber production on a total of 22,000 acres along the Penokee Range. Mining would not have been allowed.

Forest Legacy easements commit land to a forest management plan that recognizes and encourages management of the forest for public recreation, scenic beauty, timber production and conservation benefits. The easements are permanent and binding on future landowners.

The 2003 Forest Legacy Project was named “Bad River Headwaters.” Wisconsin DNR records indicate the federal government awarded $3,428,000 toward the purchase of the conservation easements. The state of Wisconsin match funds totaled $1,143,000. The total value of the land interests was $10 million.

The records state that although negotiations had been going well between TNC and the landowners, one of the larger landowners decided to sell their holdings to another party. The new owner was not interested in selling a conservation easement to the state. A state of Wisconsin Final Report dated June 12, 2006, explains that: “[t]he new owners have indicated that they may mine the property in the future.”

The larger landowner was U.S. Steel. The purchaser was RGGS Minerals.
If there is a profitable ore body on the Penokee Range, why was U.S. Steel willing to sell a conservation easement on that land? The easement would have banned mining in perpetuity. Certainly U.S. Steel knew the implications of a conservation easement. Most certainly, U.S. Steel knew the value of its mineral rights on the Range.

The other parties to this transaction also must have known the value of the mineral rights. In fact, the state of Wisconsin was required to obtain an appraisal in order to determine the fair market value of the land interests. (State of Wisconsin Forest Legacy Program, Program Narrative, 424 Application, Fiscal Year 2003, Bad River tract.)

There must be an appraisal of the mineral value in the land GTAC claims it wants to mine. Clearly, all the parties in 2003 knew the value of the mineral deposits. Certainly today’s proponents of a taconite mine on the Penokee Range must also know.

In 2003, one of the largest steel-producing companies in the world was willing to sell a conservation easement for its 16,000 acres on the Penokee Range, knowing that mining would be prohibited. Yet in 2013, our legislators insist there is profit and jobs to be had in those same hills. Facts suggest otherwise. We have been duped. To what end?

Susan Sommer, Phelps

I'll tell you to what end. The powers that be want a revolution so they can declare marshal law, thereby completing the fascist coup in Amerika.

Originally posted to James Richard Bailey on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 06:53 AM PDT.

Also republished by Badger State Progressive and Democracy Addicts.

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