GOP Strip Mining Bill Threatens 18,000 Wisconsin Families and Business Owners
By Rep. Brett Hulsey
Though Governor Walker and the GOP’s strip mining bill has now passed the Assembly, its becoming clearer every day that its elusive authors have pushed through a bill that threatens Wisconsin families and business owners around the state.
Just yesterday, I heard from David Stearett, Chief of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Floodplain Management Branch. He informed me that the parts of the mining bill would exempt strip mines from state floodplain rules. This would put Wisconsin out of compliance with Federal law. These rules are in place to protect our flood-vulnerable homes and businesses, and if Wisconsin doesn’t meet them, the Federal government can’t provide any flood insurance or flood disaster relief for anyone in our state.
There’s no alternative to flood insurance provided by the Federal government; there is no way for private insurance companies to profit by selling flood insurance, and they don’t offer it. Flood insurance provides 18,000 policies to Wisconsin families and businesses on property worth $3.1 billion dollars.
Suspension of our flood insurance would make our state vulnerable to a multi-billion dollar disaster at a time when the occurrence of flooding across the state is at an all-time high. The lucky among us only saw the pictures of devastation caused by severe flooding in 2007, 2008 and 2010 – and unfortunately, thousands of Wisconsinites experienced the destruction first hand as victims of these disasters.
Those disasters would have had an even greater cost if the strip mine bill had been in place then. According to a 2009 FEMA memo, only limited Federal disaster assistance can be provided to states who aren’t participating in the insurance program. Without federal assistance, Wisconsin flood victims would have received $267 million less in disaster aid in the last 5 years. That’s money our families and business owners desperately needed to recover.
This is only the tip of the iceberg – analysis by the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau shows that the bill passed by my GOP colleagues in the Assembly goes much farther than any neighboring state in removing protections for our drinking water and clean lakes. But considering implications for our flooding assistance alone, the fact that Governor Walker and Assembly Republicans would jeopardize the mortgages and livelihoods of almost 18,000 families and businesses with this Strip Mine Giveaway bill shows how desperate they are to pay back the wealthy special interests and the out of state mining company that sponsored their 2010 campaigns.
Let Governor Walker and your Senator know that you don’t want our families and business owners threatened by floods.