ACTION ALERT: CALL YOUR LEGISLATORS NOW

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Bad River girls. Photo: Rebecca Kemble

UPDATE: The Water Privatization Bills (AB 554 and SB 432) have moved out of committee and will be headed for a full vote in the Assembly and the Senate. Contact your Senator and Representative and tell them to vote NO! NO MORE FLINTS!

Find your elected officials Wi Legislature  http://maps.legis.wisconsin.gov/

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With our hearts in Flint, the world is watching the nightmare of privatized water and corrupt politicians in Michigan. Over 200 of children have been permanently damaged by lead poisoning due in large part to the privatization of the water systems. Now children in other major cities in Michigan are also testing high for blood-lead poisoning.

Now, today, a bill is rapidly moving through the Wisconsin legislature that would make it nearly impossible for We the People to stop the privatization of our water.

Assembly Bill 554 which will create the same privatization of Wisconsin water supplies that led to the Flint disaster, has passed the State Assembly and is in the Senate Workforce Development Committee. That committee is made up of 3 Republicans and 2 Democrats, and is poised to pass their version of this legislation, Senate Bill 432.

Some backstory: in 2009, the City of Milwaukee was exploring the possibility of privatizing its municipal water. Here is a contemporary Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal article about it, and a later story from Food and Water Watch after the idea was scuttled. Basically, local residents rose up against the proposal and fought it; the Milwaukee Common Council stopped its study of the proposal.

The current legislation would make it nearly impossible to do what the citizens of Milwaukee did in 2009. Rather than being able to stop privatization while it is still an “idea,” citizens would need to collect signatures and put a referendum on the ballot to stop the process in-progress: time-consuming, expensive, and subject to the special interest money bound up in today’s elections.

According to an aide at the office of Rep. Tyler August(R-Lake Geneva), the proposal’s lead author, another aspect of the bill will allow private entities to “buy into” county-owned water supplies, thereby gaining control over area water. For example, a corporate farm could purchase water rights from the county and gain control over how the local water is used.

Please pass this on to as many people as you can and tell them to contact the members of the Workforce Development Committee and express their opposition to SB432.

Tell them NO MORE FLINTS!

Rep. Tyler August (608) 266-1190 Rep.August@legis.wisconsin.gov, sponsor
Senator Roger Roth (Chair) (608) 266-0718 Sen.Roth@legis.wisconsin.gov
Senator Richard Gudex (Vice Chair) (608) 266-5300 Sen.Gudex@legis.wisconsin.gov
Senator Duey Stroebel (608) 266-7513 Sen.Stroebel@legis.wisconsin.gov
Senator Chris Larson (608) 266-7505 Sen.Larson@legis.wisconsin.gov
Senator Julie Lassa (608) 266-3123 Sen.Lassa@legis.wisconsin.gov

Our very lives depend on it.

nomoreflints

Overpass Light Brigade Photo: Lisa Moline

This weekend the Overpass Light Brigade did a photo shoot to raise awareness about the proposed legislation and asked the public to contact the members of the Workforce Development Committee to inform them of citizen opposition to the bill.

Adapted from badscience original article here.

Deadline Sept 30 to weigh in on CAFO planned for Lake Superior

On February 13, 2015, the Department of Natural Resources received a final Wisconsin Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (WPDES) permit application for Badgerwood, LLC, a proposed Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) in Bayfield County. WPDES permits are water quality protection permits designed to ensure proper storage and handling of manure from larger-scale livestock operations. The WPDES permit program does not have authority to address odor, noise, traffic or other issues not related to water quality.

The operation would house approximately 7,500 sows, 18,750 pigs, and 100 boars. This is equal to 6,162 animal units. Structures at the site would include three barns with concrete manure storage structures located under each barn, to provide more than 180 days of liquid manure storage. Manure would be removed from storage and land applied according to an approved nutrient management plan.

Based on review of the WPDES permit application, the department has determined that theapplication was incomplete and requested additional information [DNR FTP] on March 17, 2015. Aspects of the proposal may change when the application is complete.

EIS process

The department decided, pursuant to s. NR 150.20(4)(b), Wis. Adm. Code, to use the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process as the best approach to achieve WEPA compliance for the proposed Badgerwood swine operation. This allows citizens to have input.

Go here for more information on how to give input into the EIS deadline September 30, 2015:
http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/AgBusiness/CAFO/Badgerwood.html

Visit Farms not Factories for a comprehensive analysis of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations.

Thank you for standing united in defense of the water.

GTac sends message to investors: Penokee Hills unmineable.

March 28, 2015

GTacOn March 27, 2015, Gogebic Taconite (GTac) sent a letter to the Wisconsin DNR withdrawing their pre-application for a mining permit. Earlier, they had announced that the Penokee Hills of northern Wisconsin were “unmineable” due to wetlands, and said they would be closing their Hurley, WI offices and abandoning the idea of investing in an open-pit mountaintop removal mine here.

This victory for northern Wisconsin and concerned citizens everywhere was due to a combination of circumstances that ultimately proved once and for all that the boom and bust of the mining industry is too great a risk to the economy, environment and democracy of the region. Some of the factors for GTac’s failure to mine include:

The manner in which GTac conducted business

GTAC armed security forces in northern Wisconsin. Photo: Rob Ganson

GTAC armed security forces in northern Wisconsin. Photo: Rob Ganson

Besides the $700,000 pay off to Scott Walker, the use of an unlicensed private paramilitary company to guard the mine site, the smear campaigns against scientists conducted by extreme pro-mining propaganda organizations, the death threats against concerned citizens, and being allowed to author the new mining legislation created great risk for the region.

Many never believed GTac was a real mining company. Organized as an LLC in only 2010 and having no previous iron ore experience, GTac did not behave like a mining company. Authentic taconite mining companies don’t:

· Hire an official wanted for crimes against the environment in Spain;
· Claim to know the deposit with only a few hundred core holes, when thousands are necessary;
· Hire a public relations person who only makes people angry and appears totally ignorant of mining issues and technology;
· Bulk sample using loose rock in an old hole with no knowledge of its origin;
· Put forth a mine plan which shows a pit diagram which misses much of the deposit;
· Tell blatant lies in public legislative sessions—lies which contradict their own previous statements;
· Deny the existence of minerals in the deposit that have been documented to be there for over 100 years;
· Have only a handful of employees on a project which would require hundreds;
· Use an economic study based on laws and conditions in a different state and that shows only half the picture;
· Put forth a mine plan which does not show any water storage pond/facility, when tens of millions of gallons are needed every day;
· Say they plan to dry stack their tailings, when this method has never been used in a wet climate, and propose a pile hundreds of feet high when 35 feet is pretty much a limit;
· Say they will dry stack, which is the most expensive method of tailings disposal, and at the same time say that they will be cost efficient.
· Not publish their test results (Aguila, Copperwood, Highland Copper, Eagle Mines—all published their core test results either online or in the local papers);
· Not know the extent of wetlands before performing expensive core drilling and bulk sampling;
· Contradict their own consultants while in meetings with the ACOE, DNR and EPA, resulting in those regulators telling them to come back when they get serious;
· Drill only a handful of water monitoring holes, when hundreds would be required, and never bother to install instrumentation in those that they did drill;
· Propose to convey and handle wet materials (tailings) 24 hours a day, 365 days a year in a climate in which the temperature goes below -35F;
· Say they are pulling out of Ashland County, leaving almost 1/3 of the ore in the ground, because the local county board chair is “mean”;
· Get caught bribing the governor to the tune of $700,000;
· Suggest that they are going to file a permit soon, when years of investigation are still required;
· Promise 700 jobs but not be able to produce a single job description …*

This list could go on and on, but this is more than enough to know now that they were never serious about mining iron ore.

SOS

Residents of the Lake Superior basin gather in Winter 2014 to spell out “SOS Protect Our Water” with their bodies on the ice. Photo: David Doering

The power of the people
Lake Superior has always been special to those who live near her. The Lake Superior Chippewa Bands have for generations cared for the resources, particularly water and air. Natives and non-native alike living in the basin joined together to stand united in defense of the water. The new mining law, ignoring the voice of the people and putting all resources at risk, could not usurp the power of so many individuals working together on so many levels to protect the water.

All across the state, people became educated about the Penokee Hills and GTac. Frank Koehn from Save the Waters Edge and the Penokee Hills Education Project (PHEP) traveled the state with others giving presentations to local communities. Bad River potlucks became meeting grounds for action planning. The Harvest Education Learning Project (HELP) opened in the hills near the mine site and hosted thousands of visitors from all over the world.

Downstate, Madison Action for Mining Alternatives (MAMA) was formed to unite the north and the south in efforts to protect the water, not just from iron ore but sand frac mining overtaking central and southern Wisconsin. Educational events were held in Milwaukee, Madison, Wausau, Eau Claire and all across the state to raise awareness and unite concerned citizens.

As we reached out to our friends and neighbors about the vital issues of Lake Superior and Bad River water, we also increased awareness about the growing global water shortage.

Falling world iron ore prices and divestment of fossil fuel
International iron ore prices continue to fall. When the Wisconsin legislature first introduced GTac’s mining bill, prices were considerably higher. In 2014, they dropped by 49%.

According to scientists familiar with the iron ore in the Penokees, it is a low-quality formation and would have taken much more effort and expense to extract the ore from the ore body. Add to that the cost of mitigating the abundant wetlands, and it does not make a profitable investment.

The Work Continues
We must continue to stand strong together united in defense of the water. Mining won’t go away, and there are new threats to the water by way of tar sands pipelines, Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO), sand frac mining. According to NASA, California has about one year of fresh water left. This global crisis will reach everyone at some point. So be inspired to do something to help your local community to protect the water. Attend county board meetings, educate your neighbors, become involved with a local citizen group and continue to stay apprised of what is needed to stand united in defense of the water.

* written by Richard Theide, Iron County.

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.

READ THE FULL STORY HERE

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.

tylerforks

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

ACTION ALERT: Send Letters of Support to Stop Mining in the Penokees

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Photo: Rebecca Kemble

On August 21, 2014, the six tribes of Wisconsin’s Chippewa Federation will meet with the Environmental Protection Agency officials to urge them to stop mining activity in the Penokee Hills. Tribal leaders sent a letter last May requesting the meeting and asking the EPA to invoke a section of the Clean Water Act in order to prevent the devastation of a proposed 22-mile open pit mountaintop removal iron ore mine from destroying the Bad River watershed:

“CWA§404(c) authorizes the EPA to restrict, prohibit, deny, or withdraw the use of an area for the disposal of dredged or fill material, including mining wastes, when it is determined that discharge will have unacceptable adverse effects on fisheries, wildlife, shellfish beds, municipal water supplies, or recreational areas.”

We need your help in standing united in defense of the life-supporting waters of the Bad River Watershed. Let’s send a clear message to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in support of initiating the 404c Process.

Use this form to tell the EPA how mining discharge would affect you:

EPA Letter Campaign

Using a copy of the pre-addressed letter, please sign and add a brief statement based on your own experience that tells how you/your family/your business would be affected.

The entire stack of completed letters will be presented to the EPA on August 21, so please add your personal message, sign it, and either email your online version to:

CommDir@badriver-nsn.gov
(715) 682-7107 ext. 1531

Or mail hard copy to:
Mark Rolo
Bad River Legal 
Department
PO Box 39
Odanah, WI 54861.

We are asking that you include additional contact information so we can contact you for follow-up activities.

Here are a few points to help get you started:

• I am a member of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa…

• My family has lived/conducted spiritual practices/farmed/harvested wild rice/hunted/fished/hiked/in the Bad River Watershed area for — generations…

• I live (fish, hunt, gather, hike, bird watch, kayak, canoe…) in/my business is located in/ the area drained by the Bad River Watershed…

Mining waste discharge from GTAC’s proposed taconite mine in the Penokee Hills will disperse known harmful contaminants throughout the water-rich environment of the Bad River Watershed from the Bad River’s headwaters in the Penokee Range to its endpoints throughout the western Lake Superior Basin, thereby adversely affecting /the health and well-being of our human, plant and animal communities for years to come/ my community’s drinking water/the plants and animals I depend on for subsistence/the vitality of our fish and other aquatic species/our wild and unspoiled natural recreational areas/…

You can also find more info on the website protectpenokeehills.org.

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Top: The Penokee Hills now. Bottom: What the Penokee Hills would look like if a mine was allowed to be built.