Sunday, February 19, 2012

Silicosis and unity with a twist. Hungry guy blog posting #250

Silicosis is a form of fybrosis, a chronic often fatal disease of the lungs, often associated with mining.  I only mention this because today's posting is all about mining, and mines, and sulfur dioxide runoff and of course, liability and legislation.  I was in Platteville Wisconsin again earlier this week preparing for a discussion on the extremely controversial bill AB- 426.  Then Scott Fitzgerald and some other members of the GOTea cancelled the public meeting because they couldn't find anybody in the state who supported the legislation....literally.

And so as my plans changed and I was preparing for a return to Madison the GOTea flip-flopped again, and the meeting was on, only on Saturday this time.  Political activism and protecting democracy sure does require extensive travelling lately. There aren't too many cities or towns in the state of Wisconsin that I haven't been to at some point in the last year.

I would like to state quickly that I am not anti-mining, mining is very necessary.  I use products of iron and steel myself.  We must have it, but not at any cost.  Just like Wisconsin needs jobs, especially right now but absolutely not at any cost.

So I arrived early at the University of Wisconsin at Platteville yesterday (Saturday) and prepared myself for a four hour marathon of angry rhetoric and fist shaking.  I had good reason to expect this I figured after Fridays discussion at the state capitol in the Joint Committee on Finance on AB 426.  Dozens upon dozens of geologists, mining experts, treaty rights representatives and citizens of the badger state waited for hours and hours to express views on the legislation in general and the Penokee taconite mine specifically.

What was fascinating about Fridays meeting was the GOtea, now running very scared, actually had to feign interest in science and public opinion to avoid even more backlash against the legislative shenanigans they had been intending to pull.on Wisconsin citizens.  Basically they wanted to remove almost all normal scientific inquiry into whether a companies plan to exploit a mine would be safe to the land and the water table as well as those who live around and would be affected by the mining techniques to be used.

This legislation which would affect the entire state of Wisconsin and all current and future mining ventures was written solely for the sake of the Penokee mine.  The mine would have been huge, truly monstrous and the GOTea had been paid under the table as well as through more legal ways, to allow what is normally a four to ten year exploration period to okay the start of major mining activity to be rushed through in just under one year.  The legislation intended to do this in a few ways, namely removing any scientific exploration of the techniques to be used and to disallow exploration into how to get rid of toxic mining waste as well as by removing 99% of the liability of the mining company in case of a disaster caused by the mining company.

The Penokee strip mine has already devalued all of the land for miles around it, even without the project actually physically starting.  It would take some of the last original and most pristine of northern Wisconsin forests and turn them into a giant, steaming, toxic crater.  For every ton of iron ore removed from the mine it would produce one ton of sulfur dioxide.  The GOTea wanted to let the mining company just dump, I mean literally just dump millions and millions of gallons of highly fatal and toxic sulfur dioxide liquid on site.  From that point on the toxic waste would then travel in two directions.  About half would leach its way into the underground water table poisoning all water supplies in a roughly hundred mile circle.  The rest would flow away from the mine destroying everything in its path as it heads through Native American tribal wetlands, destroying the states valuable wild rice production and wildlife as it enters Lake Superior.  Once there the environmental impact would be devastating with the potential to kill of most species inside the lake within a short period of years.  Sulfur dioxide in the lake would then go into the artesian springs and extensive network of underground water tables where it had the potential to poison most of the entire state of Wisconsin's water supply.

The health risks associated with this are beyond catastrophic.  The disrespect to sacred Native American lands is just morally inconceivable to any type of rational human being.  The intentional violation of federal law and the treaties that the United States government signed with the soveirgn nations under different circumstances would lead to a declaration of war.  It would also be a international disaster as Canada which shares half of the border along Lake Superior would be horribly effected leading to Wisconsin and the United States federal government being sanctioned and fined and forced to pay tens of billions of dollars in restitution as well as billions that would have to be spent on clean up efforts.

And the clean up effort no matter how well it was executed could really amount to no more than putting a bad aid on a third degree burn.  The 17 republican senators would be willing to do this, who are trying (and failing horribly) to do this came dirt cheap.  They were willing to destroy, quite literally, the land and health and ultimately the lives of untold numbers of Wisconsinites.  They were willing to break state, federal and international law.  They were willing and eager to break treaty rights and unleash devastation upon Native American tribes.  But like Scott Fitzgerald was overheard saying at the capitol "What do I care, I ain't fucking no squaws"

It is horrible beyond horrible to even consider these things, it is far, far worse to have to fight it to a halt.  But that is what Wisconsin citizens are doing right now, every day and every night and they are winning and victory is almost completely completely assured.  Of course eventually the federal government or the Canadian government through the United Nations would shut it down but the damage done by then would already be utterly catastrophic.

All this just for some small campaign contributions and some hookers provided to Vos and Ellis and a few others recently (there is video of them discussing this) and some fairly substantial payments after they leave office and the state.  And I am sure that once they receive payment they will be leaving the state.  All that just for money, for the sake of greed.  That and to make a last ditch effort to help the man behind all of this Scott Walker.  Scott Walker who promised hundreds of thousands of jobs, but instead cost us tens and tens of thousands of jobs.  Just so they can say that they tried to create jobs but the democrats and the unions and the citizens of Wisconsin would not let them.  Lies upon lies upon lies once again for the sake of nothing worth pursuing in the first place.

All of last year the GOTea stopped all democrat efforts to create jobs, all last year the GOTea held "job creation meetings" at the Capitol.  All that the repugs did at these meetings was create legislation to destroy health care, to allow hunting of endangered species, to remove sex education from classrooms and dictate dress codes for female teachers.  Not once last year did they ever discuss or create laws or plans to create jobs, they only stifled the efforts of others to create jobs.

And now they try and lie to us again saying that science is all wrong, saying that they consulted the Bible and each other and cant possibly see how toxic waste can be hazardous to the environment.  That God told them that sulfuric acid in drinking water cant harm children.  Nobody is buying it, not in the least.

And that was very clear at the mining discussion in Platteville yesterday.  Scientist after scientist, tribal member after tribal member, farmer after farmer, citizen after citizen addressed the panel of senators Jauch (D) Cullen (D) and Schultz (R).  These people brought up the scientific matters as well as many other very fine points.  A career mining supervisor even spoke about how the wording of the bill would turn over the power, all the power, to the mining company and that once that occurred nothing would stop them from doing as they pleased without thought or concern for the actions they had taken.  He had seen it before, just as others who spoke had seen the devastation and long term damage of irresponsible mining in the neighboring state of Minnesota.

And the panel listened, they listened in unity.  They listened to the people who spoke in unity, against this horrible piece of legislation.  They listened as tribal members explained their religious views concerning the ties that they have to the land.  They listened as farmers discussed the concerns that they had, the concerns of mothers for the health and safety of their children.  They listened as it was explained that only God can make a tree, that after the soil and the water and the trees had been destroyed that nothing could bring them back.  A favorite quote I heard was that "reclamation is real (once again a band aid on a third degree burn) but restoration is impossible."  Another good one was "it is they're mine, but it is our water"

After all had given their testimony the event was wrapped up with summary speeches by Jauch (articulate yet long winded as is his norm) and the republican Senator Dale Schultz who said spoke of the absurd haste with which the bill was written and said "fast legislation tends to be very bad legislation' and that the republicans were "kicking the can (economically and environmentally) down the road"  I was rather happy to hear him say these things as well as his statement that he would not vote for this bill.  That means that unless a democrat senator turns traitor, the bill can not pass.

The twist is that Schultz even though he will vote against this as the lone republican hold-out, just as he was with Walkers Act 10, the so called Budget Reform Bill, has also voted with the radical Walker agenda on everything else as well as signing the oath of non-disclosure on the illegal redistricting effort.

At the end of the day if my notes are correct and I believe that they are, twenty six people had spoken against the legislation (AB 426), two loosely supported it on the basis that it would be reworded and sent back through the legislature.  Nobody, not one single person supported the bill, unity in Wisconsin.

I would like to wrap this up, and it has been long, by thanking everyone, each and every person who has sacrificed they're time and effort in fighting to save Wisconsin from AB 426.  Your efforts are working and your tactics are paying off.  Thank you all from me and keep up the fight for Wisconsin.  Solidarity.

On Wisconsin!    FORWARD!!!!

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