Sunday, March 31, 2013


From: Sen.Tiffany []
Sent: Tuesday, March 26, 2013 9:15 AM
Feel free to publish it in your newsletter. 
Subject: RE: Mining Legislation Update

Hi—thank you for sharing the letter from Senator Jauch.  Monday March 11th was a very good day for the people of the state of Wisconsin.  With Governor Walker’s signature, we took the next step in putting the miner on the flag of the state of Wisconsin back to work.  For over 40 years, except a brief interlude in the 90’s, mining has not been allowed to help pull the load  in the Badger State.

Act 1 is truly a 21st Century Mining Bill.  Concerns about mining from decades ago are well-founded.  However, our know-how and technology is exponentially better than 50 years ago.  My favorite example is where my excursion boat operates on the Wisconsin River.  The Rhinelander paper mill used to befoul the river 50 years ago with sludge and other toxic pollutants.   Now we showcase loons and eagles and nature’s majesty on that very same stretch of the river.

I believe mining is in a very similar place as the paper industry was 50 years ago.  With advancements in knowledge and technology, heavy industry CAN coexist in a modern economy.

Having said the above, I am not going to dispel every misrepresentation in Senator Jauch’s letter.  I am simply going to point you to a few portions of the bill.  You and your friends decide what you choose to believe.

On page 31 of the Legislative Council memo from January 14th under Groundwater Quality the memo states, “The bill does not modify numerical groundwater quality standards and surface water quality standards”.  In the Legislative Reference Bureau overview they say, “This bill incorporates all of the functional values and criteria that are contained in the DNR rules for water quality standards for wetlands”.  Both Legislative Council and the Legislative Reference Bureau are non-partisan agencies representing the legislature.  They CANNOT take a side in writing and reviewing legislation.

I challenge any of your friends to review Chapter 140 of the natural resources rules that cover groundwater emissions and tell me they do not apply in Act 1.  We put the numerical standards in current law, whether air, surface water and groundwater in Act 1.

The problem in current law can be summed up in a sentence from Page 3 of the previously mentioned Legislative Council memo, “Current law does not provide a deadline by which an application will be considered complete”.  In other words, there is no certainty that an application will ever be deemed complete.  How do we expect any company to consider doing business in Wisconsin if there is no deadline to receive an answer?  That is why we put in a ~3 year process for a permit to be reviewed.

Now to a few of the bombastic claims the good Senator from the 25th leveled at me and others:

 Act 1 will allow adverse environmental impacts.  Yes, I did say that but so does current law.  How can you have a mine without having environmental impacts?   The key is to limit the impacts--which is required under the bill.  Furthermore, if the standard is going to be no environmental impacts, are we going to stop building roads?  Does Senator Jauch propose shuttering the paper industry?  Should the Monona Terrace have ever been built when the good people of Madision decided to fill in 1.5 acres of Lake Monona to build it? 

Gogebic Taconite is an out-of-state West Virginia coal company that has environmental problems at its coal operations in Illinois.  Since there are no mines in Wisconsin, is it surprising that an out-of-state company is seeking  to re-start mining in Wisconsin?  In Minnesota, two of the four companies operating on the Iron Range are foreign interests.  Do opponents of mining prefer we seek out foreign companies for Wisconsin mining? 

Gogebic Taconite’s owners took over an Illinois coal operation that had been shuttered for a few years at the REQUEST of the state of Illinois.  The mine had environmental problems from a PREVIOUS owner.  The company agreed to work with Illinois EPA to resolve the environmental problems that existed PRIOR to GTac’s owners acquiring the mine.  In fact they have sunk dozens of wells to identify the extent of the groundwater contamination and have worked diligently with Illinois EPA to resolve the problem.  Senator Jauch’s nasty allegation tells very little of the real story.  Is it any wonder Wisconsin has had a bad reputation for job creators with such misinformation being disseminated by elected representatives?

I wrote the Iron Ore Mining Bill.  Did I seek information from people involved in the mining industry, yes, but I also met with many groups throughout the process the last two years including environmental groups, regulatory agencies including in Michigan and Minnesota, Indian tribes and many others.  In talking to long time Madison observers, this was one of the most thoroughly debated issues in recent memory.

I understand some are simply opposed to mining.  But, I challenge those opponents to show where Wisconsin’s current numeric environmental standards are changed.  I will be happy to discuss the examples they find.

Finally, I believe in a prosperous society like ours, we have an ethical obligation to produce some of which we consume.  Are we going to continue to out-source our manufacturing to foreign countries that have less stringent environmental regulations than us?  If so, maybe it is time we put giant wind turbines on the West Coast to blow southeast Asia’s emissions back to them.  As a kid, I was encouraged to think globally and act locally.  Act 1 is a perfect example of the people of Wisconsin acting locally to do what is best for our planet.

You are welcome to forward this message to others.  I welcome calls anytime to discuss this issue.

Senator Tom Tiffany

Northwoods Patriots - Standing up for Faith, Family, Country -

No comments:

Post a Comment