Governor Thompson of Wisconsin signed the Sulfide Mining Moratorium Bill today.
An announcement to our friends around North America and the world:
Governor Tommy Thompson of Wisconsin signed the Sulfide Mining Moratorium Bill at 1:30 pm today, Earth Day, in Shawano, next to the threatened Wolf River. The Republican Thompson has been a pro-mining governor, and this signing is a move made under heavy pressure from a strong grassroots environmental movement. The movement united Native American nations with white sportfishing groups, environmental groups with unionists, and many others.
The Bill prohibits the state issuance of permits for new metallic sulfide mines unles one such mine in North America is certified by the Department of Natural Resources to have operated for 10 years and been closed for 10 years without causing pollution. It is particularly directed at stopping the Crandon zinc-copper mine near the Mole Lake Chippewa Reservation, proposed by Toronto's Rio Algom Corporation. The Bill does not stop the mine directly, but adds the new criteria at the end of the permit process. We are on guard that the DNR does not weaken the bill through its rule-making authority. We are also asking the Governor to stop opposing Wisconsin tribes' applications for enhanced environmental authority under the federal Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act.
This has been a major victory for Wisconsin's environmental movement, rooted in its history of populist politics and environmental ethics. The mining industry journals are now expressing fears that this moratorium concept, and the concept of a new multiracial, rural-based environmental movement, will spread in a "contagion" beyond the state's borders.
WISCONSIN GOVERNOR ANNOUNCES HE WILL SIGN MINING MORATORIUM
CRANDON MINE OPPONENTS URGED TO E-MAIL RIO ALGOM
Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson has announced that he will sign the Sulfide Mining Moratorium Bill (SB3) in April. The bill will require companies to provide one example of a sulfide mine which has operated for ten years (and been closed for ten years) without polluting the surrounding environment, before any company can get a mine permit.
"The Moratorium does NOT stop the permit process for Rio Algom's proposed Crandon mine, but does add a seemingly insurmountable hurdle at the end of the process-- proof that a safe sulfide mine exists," said Zoltán Grossman, a Madison spokesperson for the Wolf Watershed Educational Project and Midwest Treaty Network. Grossman noted that Thompson is also backing down on his insistence that Wisconsin tribes trade gaming rights for their environmental and treaty rights--at least until after the November election. He added, "Moratorium backers should be on guard against any future attempts to undermine the letter or spirit of the new law."
In February, the bill passed the State Senate 27-5 and the State Assembly 91-6, before the normally pro-mining Republican Governor said in a March 20 statement that he would sign it into law, under heavy political pressure from a strong grassroots environmental movement. Alice McCombs, president of EarthWins, a Shawano- based international group that supports activism against unsafe mining, said that a mining lobbyist effort to weaken the bill had earlier been reversed by a one-vote margin in the Senate, after initial success in the Assembly.
Wisconsin has a long history of strong environmental consciousness, as demonstrated by the teachings of John Muir, Aldo Leopold, Chief Oshkosh, Hilary Waukau, and Evelyn Churchill (the originator of the sulfide mining moratorium). Passage of the Moratorium is due to the efforts of an historic grassroots alliance of environmentalists, Native American nations, sportfishing groups, unionists, students, and others around the state. They oppose the proposed Crandon mine (and a planned Northern Wisconsin mining district) for its threat to fish in the Wolf and Wisconsin rivers, the tourism economy, and Native American cultures.
The Crandon zinc-copper mine site is one mile upstream from the wild rice beds of the Mole Lake Sokaogon Chippewa Community, five miles downwind from the Forest County Potawatomi Community, and about 40 miles upstream from the Menominee Nation (via the Wolf River). Wisconsin tribes and sportfishing groups have been in conflict over treaty-backed fishing rights, but have joined forces against the mining threat to the fishery. Polls show that a majority oppose the Crandon mine, which has become the number one environmental issue in the state.
Opposition to the proposed Crandon mine is not limited to Wisconsin. On January 28, Michigan Governor John Engler sent a letter to Governor Thompson challenging Wisconsin's Great Lakes water diversion for a proposed 38-mile mine waste pipeline to the Wisconsin River. New York Governor George Pataki also raised concerns about the precdent-setting diversion. McCombs said, "Governor Engler's letter is a strong indication that opposition to the proposed Crandon mine is also growing within the Great Lakes region and the continent." Exxon originally headed the Crandon mine project, but in January sold its interest its Toronto-based partner Rio Algom, Ltd., which put its new subsidiary Nicolet Minerals Company in charge of the project, currently undergoing state and federal permit processes.
Contact: Zoltán Grossman (608) 246-2256
Alice McCombs (715) 524-5998
For other phone numbers, see http://treaty.indigneousnative.org/speakers.html
OPERATION HORNETS' NEST
With the passage of the Sulfide Mining Moratorium, and growing local opposition to the proposed Crandon mine, the days of Rio Algom, Ltd. in Wisconsin are clearly numbered. Help the company quickly understand the message by e-mailing, calling, or writing its headquarters in Toronto. Let Rio Algom know that its "charm offensive" is not working, and that this is a good time to prevent further financial losses. Extend the momentum from the moratorium passage to actually halt the proposed Crandon mine, located in the headwaters area of the pristine Wolf River.
To Rio Algom, Ltd. :
Despite a million dollar PR campaign and intense pressure by mining lobbyists, Wisconsin has passed the Sulfide Mining Moratorium Bill. The bill requires companies to provide one example of a sulfide mine which has operated for ten years and closed for ten years without polluting its surrounding environment before any company can get a mine permit.
Wisconsin has a long history of strong environmental consciousness, as demonstrated by the teachings of the late John Muir, Aldo Leopold, Chief Oshkosh, Hilary Waukau, and Evelyn Churchill. The passage of Churchill's Moratorium is due to the efforts of an historic statewide alliance of environmentalists, Native American nations, sportfishing groups, unionists, students, and others who have clearly shown their opposition to sulfide mining:
*40,000 Wisconsin citizens signed a petition supporting the Moratorium; *99 counties, cities, villages, and towns have passed resolutions and/or legislation or have gone on record in opposition to the Crandon Mine, its proposed waste pipeline to the Wisconsin River, or sulfide mining in general; *At least 76 Wisconsin municipalities and organizations back the Moratorium; *A poll conducted in October 1997 by Chamberlain Research Consultants for Wisconsin Wildlife Federation showed that 52.5% oppose the proposed mine. *Local town boards that have backed mining have been ousted by voters.
People are not fooled by glitzy propaganda and junk science. With the recent Moratorium passage, and escalating opposition to the proposed Crandon mine, it should be obvious that the days of Rio Algom, Ltd. in Wisconsin are numbered. The longer Rio Algom stays in Wisconsin, the more the concept of a mining moratorium will spread to other states and provinces, and the larger the spotlight will be shown on Rio Algom mining practices throughout the Western Hemisphere.
Rio Algom should gracefully exit this doomed project now, in the interest of its shareholders.
Please do not send any message that you would not want printed in a newspaper. In particular, remember that Canadian mining companies are no better or worse than U.S. mining companies, and that many Ontario uranium miners and Native peoples have been victims and opponents of Rio Algom. Our argument is with any multinational corporation that tramples on democracy in any country, by bringing in a mine against the will of the local people. We want Rio Algom to be "Rio Allgone".
For information on the track record of Rio Algom, see http://treaty.indigneousnative.org/track-1.html For information on the proposed Crandon mine, see http://treaty.indigneousnative.org/exxon10p.html
Please circulate this message to any friends in Wisconsin, the U.S., Canada, or elsewhere in the world. To fight a multinational corporation, we need a multinational movement. Thank you!
Wolf Watershed Educational Project
c/o Midwest Treaty Network,
P.O. Box 14382, Madison WI 53714-4382 USA
Toll-free Hotline: (800) 445-8615
Tel./Fax: (608) 246-2256
Web page: http://treaty.indigneousnative.org/wwep.html
Web links: http://www.earthwins.com
The Midwest Treaty Network (MTN) is an alliance of Native and non-Native groups founded in 1989 to support indigenous sovereignty and treaty rights in the western Great Lakes region, particularly around spearfishing, mining, sacred sites, and cultural respect. For more information on regional Native/environmental issues, see the web site at http://treaty.indigneousnative.org. Tax-deductible contributions can be made to "MTN/PC Foundation".