ACTION ALERT: Ashland County Zoning meeting seeks public to testify on sulfide mining

On Friday, March 8, 2019 at 9 AM the Ashland County Zoning committee will be meeting to move a new set of sulfide mining ordinances out of committee and on to the full board. Zoning Committee Chair Joe Rose Sr. is asking for the public to step up and testify in favor of the new ordinances. The meeting is being held in the Ashland County Board Room.

Tyler Forks, Penokee Hills, Wisconsin

Background: After Gogebic Taconite (GTac) was driven out of the state in 2015, the Wisconsin legislature, dominated by Republicans, overturned the decades-old “prove it first” Wisconsin sulfide mining law. The old law prevented companies that had a proven record of pollution from doing business in Wisconsin. After that law was overturned, the entire state became vulnerable to possible devastating environmental damages that would be caused by such a mine.

Sulfide mining focuses on copper, gold, silver and other precious metals. According to Save the Boundary Waters:

The sulfide-ore copper mining industry has a disastrous track record. A peer-reviewed report prepared by Earthworks studied fourteen sulfide-ore copper mines representing 89% of current U.S. copper production. Of those fourteen mines, all had experienced some sort of pipeline spill or other accidental release. Thirteen of the fourteen (92%) had experienced water collection and treatment failures that resulted in significant impacts to water quality. The tailings dam failure at the Mount Polley Mine in British Columbia in August 2014 shows the catastrophic potential for such failures (Earthworks 2012).

Read about the possible devastation of sulfide mining here. 

Please come to the Ashland County Board Room and speak up in defense of the water.

Yellow mine waste water from the Gold King Mine is seen in San Juan County, Colorado

ACTION ALERT: Sign petition asking President Obama to continue John Doe II investigation

SIGN THE PETITION requesting President Obama re-open the John Doe II investigation that the Wisconsin Supreme Court closed on July 16, 2015.

We need 100,000 signatures by August 18 to escalate our plea to the President. Please sign the petition here:

July 19, 2015

Dear President Obama,

walker (1)

Scott Walker. Photo: Michael Matheson

We the People respectfully request that the US Department of Justice continue the John Doe II criminal investigation of Gov. Scott Walker’s 2012 recall election campaign, as well as an investigation into Wisconsin Supreme Court Justices Michael Gableman and David Prosser and their possible conflicts of interest in the case. On July 16, 2015 the Wisconsin Supreme Court voted on party lines that the case be closed and evidence destroyed.

This ruling has national consequences, as it sets a precedent for other state supreme courts to give a free pass to politicians (regardless of whether they’re Democrats or Republicans) who become embroiled in corruption scandals.

In a poll conducted by the Green Bay Gazette, 76% of Wisconsinites also think the investigation should not have been closed. The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign has condemned the decision as well.

Included in the case were Wisconsin Club for Growth (WiCFG) and Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC), among others. There was ample evidence that their network intended to collect and distribute campaign funds on Walker’s behalf and under Walker’s control. In fact, the parties involved did not deny that they did indeed coordinate. The court ruled, however, that Wisconsin campaign laws are too strict in the post-Citizens United world.

The case also unearthed a pay-to-play revelation involving mining company Gogebic Taconite (GTac) that secretly gave $700,000 to help WiCFG buy two state senate seats and pass a deregulation bill, which GTac was allowed to write.

Justice Michael Gableman has denied motions asking that he step aside from cases involving an attorney who represented him, calling these requests “neither justified nor warranted.” Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism/Lukas Keapproth

Justice Michael Gableman has denied motions asking that he step aside from cases involving an attorney who represented him, calling these requests “neither justified nor warranted.” Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism/Lukas Keapproth

WiCFG and WMC have spent over $10 million since 2007 to re-elect the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s Republican majority. In 2008, WMC spent $2.25 million in dark money to get Justice Gableman elected. In 2010-2011, WMC gave over $1 million to WiCFG and $3,685,000 for Justice Prosser to win his 2011 election. After opponent JoAnne Kloppenburg won, 14,000 votes were mysteriously discovered two days later by former Prosser aide and Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nicholas which resulted in a state-wide recount. Evidence of fraud abounded at the recount, but Prosser was declared the winner.

Gableman has a history of ethics violation. He received free legal counsel for two years beginning in 2008 from the Wisconsin law firm of Michael Best & Friedrich, which represented the state in defending the Act 10 law in 2011. It was a blatant conflict of interest: He owed money to a firm that got his vote in this and other cases. And still he refused to step aside.

In February 2015, John Doe II Special Prosecutor Francis Schmitz asked that Gableman and Prosser step aside in the case. They refused. New rules, written by WMC and adopted in 2010, stated a campaign contribution alone would not require recusal. Another rule change the Republican majority wrote that year allowed judges to vote in cases where they had received election contributions from lawyers or parties who might benefit from the outcomes, and hear cases where they had received support from the parties themselves.


Justice David Prosser. Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism/Lukas Keapproth

Under the U.S. Supreme Court’s Caperton decisionthe failure to recuse in this case could be a due process violation.

We have the evidence of the corruption but there simply is no justice available. We can’t even vote them out: election fraud in Wisconsin is rampant:

  • An out-of-state company Command Central controls the hackable voting machines in much of state. Before the Walker recall election in June 2012, they illegally offered clerks a chance to swap out their old Optech Insight Scanner (with paper ballot) for two hackable DRE Touch Screen models with no verifiable paper trail, at no charge.
  • The right-wing majority gerrymandered the state and required legislators sign secrecy agreements;
  • The voter suppression was such a huge issue, Hillary Clinton filed a voter-access lawsuit accusing a Republican-led state of trying to suppress the vote.
  • Fake absentee ballot applications with erroneous information were sent out by the defendants in John Doe II.

As a result, extreme right-wing Republicans now control every entity in state government: Senate, Assembly, the governor’s office, highway patrol, and the Supreme Court.

The scope of corruption that Wisconsin is experiencing, however, stretches beyond just election systems. One must akin the entirety of the election, judicial, legislative, and media fraud with which we are being assaulted to a nonviolent war: all levels of our culture are under attack—economic, educational, environmental, communities of the elderly and disabled, political—as those perpetrating the fraud instigate a hostile takeover of our government.

Waging this nonviolent war against the citizens of this state and nation amounts to treason. As they use their power to collude to enact laws that directly undermine the US and Wisconsin constitution and opposed by We the People, they provide direct proof that they are traitors. No metal detector at the airport will protect us from this kind of terrorism.

So where do citizens go to for help? We need heroes in every level of government to stand up for We the People.

President Obama, will you be one of the heroes who acts to help restore justice to Wisconsin and the nation? Our very lives, and the life of the republic depend on it.

Please sign the petition here:


ACTION ALERT: Sean Duffy Attacking Wisconsin’s Water

October 27, 2014

Rep. Sean Duffy and his Tea Party extremists are trying to take away our protection.

Rep. Sean Duffy and his Tea Party extremists are trying to take away our protection.

Rep. Sean Duffy (WI-R-7) is in a hotly contested race with Kelly Westlund of Ashland for the Congressional seat representing District 7, which includes the Penokee Hill and Bad River watershed. Duffy recently co-sponsored two bills that passed in the House that take aim at the Treaty Rights of the Lake Superior Chippewa, as well as all of the waters of Wisconsin.

The bills—HR 5078 and HR 4854—are co-sponsored by Tea Party Republicans and Southern Democrats in mining states and are based on a corporate manifesto written by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), an organization funded in part by David and Charles Koch. They are designed to severely limit the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers from implementing the Clean Power Plan.

The bills passed the House in September and are part of ALEC’s “model legislation” based on the Tea Party ideology found in “U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Assault on State Sovereignty.” Portraying the power of the EPA as dangerous federal overreach, the manifesto aims to protect mining interests across the country from being held accountable for their impact on the environment.


We need people power before the election to help educate the state on the truth. We need people writing Letters to the Editor to your local papers, sharing this information with your family and friends, and forwarding the link to people who might be undecided about who to vote for.

The truth is if Walker, Duffy and Ryan get re-elected, they will continue to bring the Koch Brothers and the influence of all their corporate money has here in Wisconsin. If Walker, Duffy, Jamey Francis, Dane Deustch and their Tea Party friends prevail, they will dismantle any protections we have from mining.

Remember how we were told over and over, “If the mine would pollute, the EPA won’t allow it.” This is the same lie they told us in January 2011 about not wanting to change the Wisconsin State mining laws. GTac knew when they told us that that the new bill was already in progress.

Find your local newspaper here. Write a letter. Support Kelly Westlund. And then get out the vote and let’s elect people not paid for by the Koch Brothers: Kelly for Congress, Beth Meyers for Assembly, Susan Happ for Attorney General and Mary Burke for governor on November 4, 2014. If you live outside of District 7, find out who in your district supports We the People and clean water.

Help others learn the truth and get out the vote on November 4th.

Your very life may depend on it.


One of many undocumented streams and waterfalls of the Bad River watershed. Photo: Maureen Matusewic

Citizens Successfully Challenge Mining Laws

February 21, 2014 by Rebecca Kemble

On February 16, 2014 two groups set out from opposite directions on Highway 77 to demonstrate their opposition to a law written by and passed for GTac that prohibits public access to managed forest land around mining activity sites. Nearly 100 people marched to the Moore Park Siding for a press conference, and several dozen breached the “Forbidden Zone” to enjoy the gorgeous, sparkling winter day in the Penokee Hills.

There were no arrests and no visible presence of law enforcement officials.

EDITORIAL: This is a peaceful action

photo: Ros Nelson

photo: Ros Nelson

Last week, charges were filed against a woman for allegedly assaulting a GTac employee near LCO Harvest Camp and the site of the core drilling taking place in the Penokee Hills. According to the report, about $2500 worth of damage was done to vehicles and personal property and she was charged with three misdemeanors and a felony.

The group that allegedly perpetrated the act was welcomed at Harvest Camp, as all visitors are. According to sources involved, however, the group did not inform the creators of camp of their intention to cause damages, as alleged.

As can be expected, media propaganda immediately began associating the group’s action with Harvest Camp. After the incident was resolved, the Penokee Hills Education Project and LCO Harvest Camp reiterated their policies of education and non-violence. In an interview with Rob Thomas, entertainment reporter for the Cap Times, I was asked if the people who took part in the direct action were associated with the Harvest Camp. My response was that the anarchists[1] who took the action were not acting on behalf of the camp, and that the camp did the right thing to assist law enforcement with finding the perpetrators.

Peaceful hikers going to visit the drill site. Photo: Ros Nelson

Peaceful hikers going to visit the drill site. Photo: Ros Nelson

Much like the Madison police who refused to become the palace guard for Walker during the 2011 uprising, we have allies in our local law enforcement. One of my neighbors said it best: After a long walk to the drill site she reported, “Their bodies are on one side of the yellow tape, but their hearts are on the other.” They are working together with us to protect the community they serve, not the corporation.

These are stressful circumstances for everyone. We are all suffering from shock and awe. The elected officials who support corrupt legislation are traitors to the Wisconsin Constitution. They sold out our resources to their corporate sponsors, passed unjust and dangerous laws and continue to lie about it.

We know the mining company wrote the law. We know it is an unjust law. It leaves the door open for not only the Bad River Watershed but all of Wisconsin waters to become a “sacrifice zone.” The pollution a 22-mile open pit mountaintop removal iron ore mine would rain upon our area would turn us into another West Virginia. Our economy, our agriculture, our children, our environment, our health, our infrastructure—everything would suffer.

Ashland County Zoning Committee holding a public hearing for the new Metallic Mining Zoning Ordinance, which passed 18 to 1.

Ashland County Zoning Committee holding a public hearing for the new Metallic Mining Zoning Ordinance, which passed 18 to 1.

Because this is a just cause, and because those who live here have a rich history of standing together in nonviolent-direct action, we are making important headway. This coalition of community leaders, local and state activists, law enforcement and ordinary concerned citizens have produced what I personally consider a miracle. Ashland County, which rushed through a “Responsible Mining Resolution” two years ago, just passed their new metallic mining zoning ordinance last week. Iron County is about to do the same. It is no guarantee of safety by any means and we fully anticipate Gtac will continue their assault. These steps do, however, herald the turning of the tides of our deepening relationship to our neighbors in Hurley and Iron County, and our faith that we can change the hearts of our neighbors and elected officials with education, nonviolence and a commitment to doing what is best for the whole.

vistaMany people have never been to Lake Superior. They have no idea what it’s like to live near such clean, clear water, with friends and neighbors who support you and what’s best for the entire community. I have always believed the good people of Iron County have been misled, and that if they knew the truth, they would join us. This is proving to be true. You simply cannot fit a theoretical idea of aggressive direct action such as damaging property over our area and think it will work.

With the new budget in place, more and more people will be waking up. We must be prepared to welcome them, not damage their property.

For those who are inclined to break the law, please remember, there are laws that ensure the people’s right to the protections of their person and property. These laws are not unjust. If you choose to break them, be prepared to serve the time.

Better yet, if you want to help preserve the Penkoee Hills and the Bad River Watershed, join us in our peaceful commitment to doing what is best for the good of the whole. Work with us, not against us.

Standing up to the corporate takeover of our government will take everyone acting for the good of the whole. Many paths, one goal.

Choose wisely.

The Penokee Hills Education Project is a non-profit educational organization whose mission is public education, networking, and grassroots organizing on the environmental, health, social, and economic issues of mining in northern Wisconsin.

[1] a state of society without government or law.