Senator Tom Tiffany has introduced a sweeping Mining Give-Away Bill that removes Wisconsin's prove-it-first protections, undermines our wetland laws and sidesteps many of our existing safeguards. As our Mining Chair put it, "These giveaways to the mining industry are nothing more than direct subsidies that reduce operating costs while putting Wisconsin's sustainable tourism and agriculture at risk from pollution."
The Mining Give-Away Bill:
- Removes the prohibition on approvals for high capacity wells if groundwater withdrawal would result in the detriment of other user’s rights – a provision that would violate the Public Trust Doctrine that requires the state protect public water rights.
- Relaxes standards and streamlines permitting deadlines and guts wetlands protections for mining.
- Repeals the requirement that mining companies post bonds for long-term cleanup and contingencies – meaning taxpayers are likely to foot the cleanup bills
- Eliminates fees for dumping mining wastes that save the industry millions of dollars destined for the Environmental Fund in the state budget.
- The mining company trying to open the controversial Back 40 mine just across the Menominee River in Michigan is the direct beneficiary of Tiffany’s bill. Aquila Resources has two deposits it wants to mine here in Marathon and Taylor Counties (“Reef” and “Bend” respectively).
- Mandates permitting timelines that make review and analysis more difficult for the DNR and which curtails the public’s right to know and comment
Metallic mining proposals, whether for iron, base or precious metals, are the largest and most complex and destructive land uses considered for the state. Nearly all of these ore deposits in Wisconsin are bound up in metallic sulfides that inevitably cause toxic acid mine drainage to surface and groundwater. Before the Moratorium Law was approved, the mining industry was challenged to give one example of a mine in metallic sulfides that had been safely operated and closed without polluting the environment. To this day, the mining industry has not documented a single proven example.
For more information about mining and the mining bill, check out our series of blogs regarding mining.