Recently, I looked at the front page of the Journal-Sentinel and saw an interesting headline, “Compromise on Mining Proposed.” The headline makes you think this is a good thing, and that the proposal is an attempt to work together to attract iron mining to Wisconsin.
I think a more appropriate headline would read, “Two State Senators Seek Political Cover With New Mining proposal.” This bill would be the worst passed since Walker became governor. Although, in fairness it has been a very good period of progress with not much to complain about.
The reasons for supporting the mine are obvious. The mine would create jobs in an area of Wisconsin that would have little chance of creating any other well paying jobs. The jobs would include 600 to 700 permanent jobs and many tempoary construction jobs. Also, in our area we have many jobs dependent on firms that build mining equiptment and companies like Caterpillar would have a good chance to build some equiptment for this mine. Neighboring states, that are not known for being lax on enviromental issues, like Minnesota, already have mining in their states, so it not true that allowing some mining would be a disaster for the enviroment.
I would think that if unions could have a chance to organize the mine workers, they would pressure Democrats to support the mine. Maybe it is because these would be private sector jobs not funded by government or maybe there are not enough jobs for them to care about.
I am not surprised that the Democrats are unified in opposing job creation. If they cared about jobs, they would not be pushing the recall elections that create uncertainty. They do not want Walker to get credit for anything and all that matters is their special interest master, the public employee unions. Although you would think the state Senator representing the area Caterpillar is located would act in the best interest of his own district, but I guess keeping Walker from getting credit is more important than needs and best interest of his district.
This brings us to the two State Senators seeking cover to allow them to stop the mine while appearing to be supporting the mine. Democrat Bob Jauch is the Senator in the area the proposed mine would go. He knows his voters want the mine so he needs to appear to be working to get the mine. Dale Schultz, a Republican, also wants to appear to support the mine for his voting base. I assume Jauch also needs to help the Democrats be unite against Walker to prevent any success. Whatever the reason for their opposition, the changes proposed are designed to prevent the mine from being built. They are seeking political cover by either allowing them to vote for a bill labeled as a mining bill or allowing them to claim that they tried to offer a proposal that the mine supporters refused.
Three major provisions were added or changed to stop the mine. One was allowing contested case hearings so people outside of regular process can disrupt and delay the process. This needs be removed. A second issue is changing the time limit from 360 days to 540 days for review by the DNR and allowing timeouts that make that timeline meaningless. If they were supportive of the mine, the timeout provisions would be removed then the extended timeline might still work. The third poison pill in the bill is the $5 million per year tax for the first five years of operation and $5 million upfront tax. Some tax may be justified to cover some expenses to taxpayers, but too much upfront costs with other risks will prevent the mine from being built.
Bob Jauch and Dale Schultz lack integrity, they need to be honest with voters and state their case against the mine instead of looking for political cover to appear to support iron mining while they really oppose the mine. I have more respect for the Democrats that are making the argument against the mine; at least they are honest that they could care less about creating good jobs in Iron County.
It is bad enough these Senators are trying to fool voters, but it is even worse that much of the media is working to help them instead of holding them accountable and exposing them. Instead they write and talk about them as if trying to find some great compromise. The reality is the supposed great compromisers are the key people blocking the mine and need to be seen as the main obstacles not the heroes.