Wednesday, February 13, 2013

From Wisconsin Citizens Media Cooperative: Ashland Listening Session sends strong message: "There Will Be No Mine"

By Barbara With and Rebecca Kemble
Posted Feb. 12, 2013, on Wisconsin Citizens Media Cooperative
Text reprinted in part with permission

A sign at the Feb. 9, 2013, Ashland Listening Session on SB1/AB1, the Wisconsin Republican mining bill. (Photo © and courtesy Rebecca Kemble. Reprinted with permission.)

ASHLAND, WIS. -- A microcosm of the global struggle for clean water and land played out in northern Wisconsin last weekend at a listening session held in Ashland concerning SB1/AB1, the new Republican-sponsored (Wisconsin) mining bill. Impassioned testimony on behalf of the water and Lake Superior was given for ten hours, with only five people speaking in favor of what could be the largest open pit mine in the world. (See this YouTube channel for video testimony of selected individuals, or IndianCountryTV.com YouTube channel for longer, more comprehensive coverage of the entire event.)

The testimony of nearly one hundred people revealed an overwhelming opposition to the bill, as well as a clear rejection of a proposed 21-mile long, 1,000 foot deep mountaintop removal iron ore mine in the headwaters of the Bad River watershed.

The listening session was opened by Idle No More drumming and dancing from members of the Bad River and Red Cliff bands of Lake Superior Chippewa. Esie Leoso Corbine, Edith Leoso and Denise McCutcheon-Cloud are seen dancing while band members drum. (Photo © and courtesy Rebecca Kemble. Reprinted with permission.)

Sponsored by Sen. Bob Jauch (D-Poplar) and Rep. Janet Bewley (D-Ashland), the session was also attended by Rep. John Lehman (D-Racine), Sen. Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee),
Rep. Stephen Smith (D-Shell Lake), Rep. Nick Milroy (D-Superior), Sen. Tim Cullen (D-Janesville), Sen. Dale Schultz (R-New Richmond), Sen. Mark Miller (D-Monona), Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton).

At the end of the Listening Session, Wisconsin legislators, from left -- Sen. Stephen Smith, Sen. Nick Milroy, Rep. Janet Bewley and Sen. Bob Jauch offer final comments. (Video clip by Rebecca Kemble. Republished with permission.) Click here for more videos of the Listening Session on YouTube.

Other than Schultz, Republican legislators boycotted the session, which many construed as a part of their continuing rejection of democratic process in favor of their corporate sponsors. Of the nearly $1 million in campaign donations to 20 Senate and Assembly mining committee members by interests backing mining deregulation, over $450,000 went to committee member Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) and $74,000 to committee chair Sen. Tom Tiffany (R-Hazelhurst).

Of the 265 people who registered at Saturday’s listening session, 240 were opposed to the bill, while only 25 registered in support, with 94 speaking against, and only five in favor. The pro-mining speakers spoke in favor of jobs, but when faced with the facts of the damage a mine would do, refused to acknowledge the scientific, historical and economic evidence that a mine will bring no benefit to anyone other than lawyers, the mining company and their cronies, and area medical facilities. ... Click here to read the rest of this article on the Wisconsin Citizens Media Cooperative Web site.

UPDATE: See also this article by Barbara With and Rebecca Kemble, posted Feb. 14, 2013: "Amidst Controversy, Superior Days Promotes Mining Legislation."

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