NWRPC has an opportunity to make a difference! 12.25.12 (WE editorial)

This is a reaction to Northwest Regional Plamming Commisison's proposal to produce a comprehensive impact study of the GTac/Walker Penokee proposal to develop a major industrial complex within the boundaries of the Bad River Watershed.

December 28th, 2012

The Northwest Regional Planning Commission has joined the Penokee Hills/Chris Cline/Walker mine discussion.   NWRPC staff presented a proposal to conduct a comprehensive study that will include  “pre-construction impact analysis” to address all the aspects of mining they think are important.  Jason Laumann, NWRPC spokesperson, wants a “proactive versus negative approach” to negotiate long term agreements with federal agencies, the state, and the mining companies. Interesting idea, negotiating long-term agreements, might be, oh maybe, something like treaties you ask? 

NWRPC identified the core area of the primary impact of the Penokee Hills mine. Ashland, Mellen, Hurley, Ironwood, Bessemer, and Wakefield as the areas that need an analysis of land use and zoning regulations as areas of concern.  In fact, already Iron County has learned they will need to change their regulations to comply with the demands of the Chris Cline/GTac Mine. The study is estimated to take a year and may be completed for an estimated $140,000 to $250.000. Nothing bashful about these folks when it comes asking for money to supporting their agency and their jobs.

For NWRPC to begin looking for this $250,000, they have requested letters of support from the communities. NWRPC needs the plausible deniability factor by having requests come for the above-mentioned communities. 

There were other presenters – and now we are once again told “You can have your cake and eat it. ” such a deal – Except that we are not talking about cake – We are talking about water, pristine wilderness, spawning grounds, the Bad River Watershed, wild rice and there is a community involved also. According to the guru from NWRPC this community is not listed in the “core area” or is of concern when giving consideration to “primary impact” communities.  In fact, NWRPC’s proposal is unacceptable. NWRPC has requested local units of government endorse this idea by signing on the dotted line. 

If the news reports are correct, there was no reference to the Bad River Watershed, the Bad River Ojibwe Nation, and the fact that polluted water will violate Bad River’s Water Quantity and Quality Standards. 

WE have requested that NWRPC:

Post their proposal on their web page-

Explain how water will be protected-

Develop a model of the Penokees, the Bad River Watershed, the Kakagon Sloughs, the Bad River and all the tributaries that wander downstream to the Bad River and our big lake, Lake Superior. 

The model should include:

Copper Falls State Park, 

the communities, 

farms, and home sites within the watershed. 

The model needs to include:

The taconite manufacturing facility-

The infrastructure for supplying energy whether it be coal, gas, wood, building a nuke, wind, sun or a combination of fuel sources-

A “blast zone” of the areas that might be affected by the explosions associated with mining-

How waste from all phases of the process, from ground to product will be disposed-

This is a short list – the impact on schools, fire, ambulance, and law enforcement services will make the list longer

Everything that is to be said about the mine project has been said. Ou  governor has spoken he wants to essentially make mining companies exempt from the law. His political opposition wants to tinker with time lines and public input.  This tinkering will provide waivers, exemptions, variances, or just loopholes for the Wall Street investors as they attempt to pocket more money at the expense of Wisconsin’s premier wilderness area, the Bad River Watershed, and at the expense of my friends and neighbors who rely on the water to provide for the fish and the rice on which many depend for food. 

This scene is no different in Brazil, South Africa, Canada, or Bhutan. First Nations under attack! Stange, how we readily see the racism that is built in or codified in law that allows Rain Forests to be destroyed for mac burgers and at the same time allow our state government operate like third world dictators.

Seems as if Mr. Jason Laumann has a grand idea – A proactive approach – WE can think of nothing better that a great big model to take to Madison, the Courthouses, and keep put on display. This will give everyone including Tim Sullivan, Scott Walker, Cathy Stepp, Bob Jauch, Janet Bewley, Chris Cline, Bill Williams, Matt Fifield and anyone else a backdrop from which questions can be asked and the answers scrutinized. No more wild promises of jobs, threats of leaving, and backroom deals. No amount of time spend on studies, scenarios, and have truths, and in some cases a misquided sense of reality poured out as fact. 

More information wil not change the ultimate decision: Do we protect the water and all other of our gifts and pass these along to those who will follow or do we squander their reality for thousands of years.