Stop the Penokee Mine!

Info courtesy of Al Gedicks and Laura Gauger of the Wisconsin Resources Protection Council

Many of you may have heard about AB 426 …  a terrible iron mining bill that is being fast-tracked in the State of Wisconsin by Governor Scott Walker and Assembly Republicans.


But what you may not know is this:  AB 426 includes provisions to undermine Wisconsin’s Mining Moratorium Law (Wis. Stat. 293.50). It also silences the voice of the public by eliminating a citizen’s right to sue for illegal environmental damage caused by a mine and denies citizens the right to a contested case hearing on any decision made by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources under the iron mining laws. AB 426 is made to order for the mining industry.

Here is a link to the actual wording of the bill and a summary of its major flaws:

According to the Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau:

Under this bill, if there is a conflict between a provision of the iron mining laws and a provision in another state environmental law, the provision in the iron mining laws controls.

In addition, according to the Wisconsin Legislative Council:

The bill amends the sulfide mining moratorium law, making it applicable only to nonferrous mining. In particular, it modifies the definition of “sulfide ore body” to mean “a mineral deposit in which nonferrous metals are mixed with sulfide minerals.”

In terms of the 4-5 mile long open-pit iron mine proposed for the Penokee Hills in northern Wisconsin, there are documented but unknown quantities of sulfide minerals (pyrite or iron sulfide) in the rock that will need to be stripped away to get to the ore body. Taconite mining in Minnesota (Dunka Pit) and Michigan (Dober and Buck Mines) has resulted in acid mine drainage from the presence of sulfide minerals in the waste rock, and the consequences have been grave. According to a special Sierra Club report on taconite mining, “The Dober and Buck mines killed aquatic life in 7 miles of the Iron River and damaged 10.5 miles of the Brule River” If the same thing happens with the new mine proposed for the Penokee Hills, with its hundreds of millions of tons of waste rock and tailings, the Bad River and Lake Superior are certain to be harmed.

The Mining Moratorium Law normally would not allow the mining of a sulfide ore body unless there was proof that it could be done without the ore or waste rock polluting the environment. No such “example mine” exists. Now, though, in the stroke of a pen, AB 426 throws out all consideration of Wisconsin’s mining moratorium law, even if the ore body and its waste rock are known to contain sulfides. Yes, AB 426 neuters the very law for which we, and many others who have since “walked on,” fought so hard.

So what can we do about AB 426?

  1. A wide range of concerned people are in the process of organizing several “anti-mining events” to be held at or near the State Capitol in Madison, Wisconsin. Tentative dates are January 25th and 26th. (Click here for  current event listings).  AB 426 is just one more example of Scott Walker’s  poisonous agenda. He is holding the people, the air, the water, and the lands of Wisconsin hostage, telling us “Drink this poison and then you can have a job.” No more! Details of the anti-mining events are being worked out, and we will let you know when plans are finalized. For now, keep those dates open on your calendar!
  2. Please sign an on-line petition against AB 426
  3. Contact members of the Wisconsin Senate Select Committee on Mining Jobs and tell them to KILL THE ASSEMBLY BILL if and when it is forwarded to the Wisconsin Senate. Here is the link with the names and contact information for the committee members.
  4. Join us in solidarity at the State Capitol in Madison! Come in large numbers, come with your stories and take your turn at the podium to help us build a regional movement to weed out corporate aggression that stands to rob us of our right to clean water.  We are all in this together, and together we will overcome!
For more information: 

Check out upcoming actions to oppose the mine at