Wisconsin’s Mining Moratorium Under Attack
Al Gedicks and Dave Blouin
The Flambeau Mine near Ladysmith, Wisconsin before reclamation. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources recently completed an investigation of water quality at the Flambeau Mine site and recommended that “Stream C,” a tributary of the Flambeau River into which Flambeau Mining Company has been discharging polluted runoff from the mine site since 1999, be included on its list of “impaired waters” for 2012 for “acute aquatic toxicity” caused by copper and zinc.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and the mining industry have begun a major lobbying effort to overturn Wisconsin’s landmark Mining Moratorium Law. The law, also known as Wisconsin’s “Prove it First” law, was developed to address the problem of acid mine drainage from metallic sulfide mining.
The law requires that before the state can issue a permit for mining of sulfide ore bodies, prospective miners must first provide an example of where a metallic sulfide mine in the U.S. or Canada has not polluted surface or groundwater during or after mining. So far, the industry has not been able to find a single example where they have mined without polluting water. A recent study of metallic sulfide regulation in the Great Lakes region by the National Wildlife Federation called Wisconsin’s “Prove it First” regulation an exemplary law.
Tim Sullivan, chairman of the Wisconsin Mining Association, is leading the effort to repeal the law. Sullivan is the governor’s special assistant for business and workforce development and a past director of the National Mining Association. He is a former president, CEO and director of Bucyrus International, the largest mining machinery company in the world, now owned by Caterpillar Corporation. He recently told a Wisconsin Senate Mining Committee that Wisconsin’s Mining Moratorium was an obstacle to new sulfide mine proposals, including Aquila Resources’ gold and copper sulfide deposits in Marathon and Taylor counties in north central Wisconsin.
Mining lobbyists have cited the “success” of the partially-reclaimed Flambeau metallic sulfide mine in Ladysmith, Wisconsin, which Kennecott/Rio Tinto operated from 1993-97, as a reason for repealing “Prove it First” legislation. However, there is no scientific evidence to support such claims.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) recently completed an investigation of water quality at the Flambeau Mine site and recommended that “Stream C,” a tributary of the Flambeau River into which Flambeau Mining Company (FMC) has been discharging polluted runoff from the mine site since 1999, be included on its list of “impaired waters” for 2012 for “acute aquatic toxicity” caused by copper and zinc. These illegal discharges of toxic metals are why U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb recently ruled that FMC violated the Clean Water Act on numerous counts.
Wisconsin is now under a well-funded mining industry attack on the grassroots environmental, sportfishing and tribal movement which mobilized tens of thousands of Wisconsin citizens to successfully oppose Exxon’s destructive Crandon mine at the headwaters of the Wolf River and enact Wisconsin’s landmark Mining Moratorium Law. That citizen movement also supported the sovereign right of the Mole Lake Ojibwe Tribe to protect itself from any mining pollution upstream from the tribe’s sacred wild rice beds. In 2003, BHP Billiton admitted defeat of the Crandon mine project and sold the mineral rights to the zinc and copper deposit to the Mole Lake Ojibwe and the Forest County Potawatomi Tribe.
Veterans of the 28-year Crandon mine battle were among those who mobilized public opinion against Gogebic Taconite’s (GTac) proposal for a giant open pit iron mine in the headwaters of the Bad River watershed adjacent to the sacred wild rice beds of the Bad River Ojibwe Tribe on the shore of Lake Superior. GTac wrote legislation that exempted itself from critical environmental protections and excluded the public and the tribes from the permitting process. Strong criticism of the Iron Mining bill led to its defeat by one vote in the Wisconsin Senate last spring.
With new GOP majorities in the Wisconsin Legislature, Governor Walker, along with the WMA and Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, has made passage of the Iron Mining Bill and repeal of Wisconsin’s Mining Moratorium Law their top legislative priority in 2013.
Many of the new Republican legislators are unfamiliar with the Crandon mine conflict and the ongoing pollution at the closed Flambeau mine. How else can one explain the disregard for the sovereign rights of the Bad River Ojibwe Tribe, whose sacred wild rice beds and way of life are threatened by mining pollution from GTac’s proposed open pit mine?
The tribe has sovereign authority, under the Clean Water Act, to protect its wild rice from mining pollution. They also have the right to be consulted about any legislation that would affect their treaty rights. So far, these rights have been ignored. Legislators rushing to accommodate the wishes of powerful corporate actors may be in for a painful reminder about the power of engaged citizens and tribes.
Live in Wisconsin? Tell your state legislator to oppose attempts to repeal the sulfide mining moratorium, and to oppose the Iron Mining bill.
Al Gedicks is the executive secretary of the Wisconsin Resources Protection Council, one of the plaintiffs in the successful lawsuit against the Flambeau Mining Company. He is also the author of Resource Rebels: Native Challenges to Mining and Oil Corporations.
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1. Stay Informed<p>A first order of business in pet evacuation planning is to understand and be ready for the possible threats in your area. Visit <a href="https://www.ready.gov/be-informed" target="_blank">Ready.gov</a> to learn more about preparing for potential disasters such as floods, hurricanes, and wildfires. Then pay attention to related updates by tuning <a href="http://www.weather.gov/nwr/" target="_blank">NOAA Weather Radio</a> to your local emergency station or using the <a href="https://www.fema.gov/mobile-app" target="_blank">FEMA app</a> to get National Weather Service alerts.</p>
2. Ensure Your Pet is Easily Identifiable<p><span>Household pets, including indoor cats, should wear collars with ID tags that have your mobile phone number. </span><a href="https://www.avma.org/microchipping-animals-faq" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Microchipping</a><span> your pets will also improve your chances of reunion should you become separated. Be sure to add an emergency contact for friends or relatives outside your immediate area.</span></p><p>Additionally, use <a href="https://secure.aspca.org/take-action/order-your-pet-safety-pack" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">'animals inside' door/window stickers</a> to show rescue workers how many pets live there. (If you evacuate with your pets, quickly write "Evacuated" on the sticker so first responders don't waste time searching for them.)</p>
3. Make a Pet Evacuation Plan<p> "No family disaster plan is complete without including your pets and all of your animals," says veterinarian Heather Case in <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9NRJkFKAm4" target="_blank">a video</a> produced by the American Veterinary Medical Association.</p><p>It's important to determine where to take your pet in the event of an emergency.</p><p>Red Cross shelters and many other emergency shelters allow only service animals. Ask your vet, local animal shelters, and emergency management officials for information on local and regional animal sheltering options.</p><p>For those with access to the rare shelter that allows pets, CDC offers <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/emergencies/pets-in-evacuation-centers.html" target="_blank">tips on what to expect</a> there, including potential health risks and hygiene best practices.</p><p>Beyond that, talk with family or friends outside the evacuation area about potentially hosting you and/or your pet if you're comfortable doing so. Search for pet-friendly hotel or boarding options along key evacuation routes.</p><p>If you have exotic pets or a mix of large and small animals, you may need to identify multiple locations to shelter them.</p><p>For other household pets like hamsters, snakes, and fish, the SPCA recommends that if they normally live in a cage, they should be transported in that cage. If the enclosure is too big to transport, however, transfer them to a smaller container temporarily. (More on that <a href="https://www.spcai.org/take-action/emergency-preparedness/evacuation-how-to-be-pet-prepared" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">here</a>.)</p><p>For any pet, a key step is to establish who in your household will be the point person for gathering up pets and bringing their supplies. Keep in mind that you may not be home when disaster strikes, so come up with a Plan B. For example, you might form a buddy system with neighbors with pets, or coordinate with a trusted pet sitter.</p>
4. Prepare a Pet Evacuation Kit<p>Like the emergency preparedness kit you'd prepare for humans, assemble basic survival items for your pets in a sturdy, easy-to-grab container. Items should include:</p><ul><li>Water, food, and medicine to last a week or two;</li><li>Water, food bowls, and a can opener if packing wet food;</li><li>Litter supplies for cats (a shoebox lined with a plastic bag and litter may work);</li><li>Leashes, harnesses, or vehicle restraints if applicable;</li><li>A <a href="https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/emergencycare/pet-first-aid-supplies-checklist" target="_blank">pet first aid kit</a>;</li><li>A sturdy carrier or crate for each cat or dog. In addition to easing transport, these may serve as your pet's most familiar or safe space in an unfamiliar environment;</li><li>A favorite toy and/or blanket;</li><li>If your pet is prone to anxiety or stress, the American Kennel Club suggests adding <a href="https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/home-living/create-emergency-evacuation-plan-dog/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">stress-relieving items</a> like an anxiety vest or calming sprays.</li></ul><p>In the not-unlikely event that you and your pet have to shelter in different places, your kit should also include:</p><ul><li>Detailed information including contact information for you, your vet, and other emergency contacts;</li><li>A list with phone numbers and addresses of potential destinations, including pet-friendly hotels and emergency boarding facilities near your planned evacuation routes, plus friends or relatives in other areas who might be willing to host you or your pet;</li><li>Medical information including vaccine records and a current rabies vaccination tag;</li><li>Feeding notes including portions and sizes in case you need to leave your pet in someone else's care;</li><li>A photo of you and your pet for identification purposes.</li></ul>
5. Be Ready to Evacuate at Any Time<p>It's always wise to be prepared, but stay especially vigilant in high-risk periods during fire or hurricane season. Practice evacuating at different times of day. Make sure your grab-and-go kit is up to date and in a convenient location, and keep leashes and carriers by the exit door. You might even stow a thick pillowcase under your bed for middle-of-the-night, dash-out emergencies when you don't have time to coax an anxious pet into a carrier. If forecasters warn of potential wildfire, a hurricane, or other dangerous conditions, bring outdoor pets inside so you can keep a close eye on them.</p><p>As with any emergency, the key is to be prepared. As the American Kennel Club points out, "If you panic, it will agitate your dog. Therefore, <a href="https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/home-living/create-emergency-evacuation-plan-dog/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">pet disaster preparedness</a> will not only reduce your anxiety but will help reduce your pet's anxiety too."</p>
Evacuating Horses and Other Farm Animals<p>The same basic principles apply for evacuating horses and most other livestock. Provide each with some form of identification. Ensure that adequate food, water, and medicine are available. And develop a clear plan on where to go and how to get there.</p><p>Sheltering and transporting farm animals requires careful coordination, from identifying potential shelter space at fairgrounds, racetracks, or pastures, to ensuring enough space is available in vehicles and trailers – not to mention handlers and drivers on hand to support the effort.</p><p>For most farm animals, the Red Cross advises that you consider precautionary evacuation when a threat seems imminent but evacuation orders haven't yet been announced. The American Veterinary Medical Association has <a href="https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/emergencycare/large-animals-and-livestock-disasters" target="_blank">more information</a>.</p>
Bottom Line: If You Need to Evacuate, So Do Your Pets<p>As the Humane Society warns, pets left behind in a disaster can easily be injured, lost, or killed. Plan ahead to make sure you can safely evacuate your entire household – furry members included.</p>
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