Mining in Wisconsin
WNPJ Mining Pages:
Click the image below for a larger map
Native American Voices (multimedia)
- SB278, 600-foot blackout zone around iron mine sites (passed)
- Info on SB632, the revised Frac Attack bill (failed so far)
- Resolution against Frac Sand Mining and SB349 (failed "Kneecapping Local Communities" bill)
- 2013 Act 1 Analysis (passed)
- Proposal from Senate Select Committee on Mining Jobs (12/6/12)
- Analysis of AB426 (the failed mining bill similar to Act 1)
- The Story of Wisconsin's Sulfide Mining "Prove It First" Law, from The Buzzards Have Landed by Roscoe Churchill and Laura Furtman (copyrighted material, posted with permission)
Defend the Bad River Watershed from Open Pit Mining!
Wisconsin faces a number of threats to our water, air, and culture from mining. WNPJ played a pivotal role in defeating an attempt to rewrite the state's mining law in 2012 to facilitate a massive open-pit iron mine. Unfortunately, after a change in the makeup of the legislature, the bill was re-drafted and passed as Act 1 in March of 2013, removing a number of environmental protections and citizen involvement stages from the iron mine permitting process. The bill was primarily written by a lobbyist for Gogebic Taconite, the company planning the mine, and first drafted in January, 2011, despite the company's denial at that time that they would seek to change the state's environmental laws. The mine would be near the headwaters of the Tyler Forks and Bad Rivers, upstream of the Bad River Ojibwe Reservation and the Kakagon Sloughs, the largest and ecologically richest wetlands complex on Lake Superior. WNPJ continues to organize support for the Bad River Ojibwe and other communities that would be impacted as they resist mining through research, writing, protesting, fundraising, and the Harvest and Education Learning Project. You can donate to Bad River's Legal Defense Fund on the Tribe's website.
Mining companies are also interested in sulfide deposits in Oneida County, along the Michigan border, and near Wausau. These projects recently suffered setbacks, but Wisconsin's unique mining moratorium law, which has kept out dangerous sulfide mining since 1998, is on the industry's wish list for repeal. In Minnesota, state agencies are considering a permit application for Polymet, the first-ever sulfide mine in that state, which would add massive amounts of acid runoff and mercury to the St. Louis River and Lake Superior.
Stop the Frac Attack!
In western and central Wisconsin Frac Sand mining is turning much of our rural countryside into quarry pits, contaminating the air with silica dust and pumping out massive amounts of groundwater, to provide a product necessary for the dangerous fossil fuel extraction process called hydrofracking. A petition in 2011 by ten citizens, supported by over 80 medical professionals, asking the DNR to regulate silica dust from sand operations as a hazardous air pollutant was rejected by the agency, despite silica dust being known to cause lung cancer and silicosis. In early 2012, the DNR released a Silica Study which concluded not enough research had been done to consider silica dust hazardous, but it did not undertake any new research and did not assess the long-term or cumulative impacts of the burgeoning sand mining industry. While some communities have passed moratoriums on new sand mining, the number of mines has skyrocketed to over 130 permitted facilities. In 2013, WNPJ spearheaded a petition and resolution signed by 78 groups calling for a ban on frac sand mining in the state, and co-sponsored a rally against legislative attacks on local regulation of sand mining. By working with a diverse group of people and organizations from around the state and across the political spectrum, we helped beat back two attempts to remove local control over sand mines.
Photo courtesy of the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism
Listen to the Tribes
Image courtesy of Midwest Environmental Advocates
Mining companies and their supporters claim that mining is good for economic development, but real-world data on mining economies paint a different picture. In addition to perpetual environmental problems, mining damages the cultural lifeways and livelihoods of indigenous people. In Wisconsin, Native American tribes were instrumental in fighting off sulfide mining in Wisconsin and passing the state's landmark mining moratorium law in 1998. They have taken an out-front position against the proposed Penokee Mine.