Is there really such a thing as “environmentally sound mining?”

On Tuesday, Republican Gov. Scott Walker called for a mining bill that “streamlines the process for safe and environmentally sound mining.”

“Environmentally sound mining?” That sounds as realistic as the notion of “clean coal.”


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25 thoughts on “Is there really such a thing as “environmentally sound mining?”

  1. ‘Environmentally sound mining’ – ‘Clean coal’ – ‘Legitimate rape’ – ‘Work makes you free’.

  2. Fits right in there with your “category,” heading Zach. Plus we already understand completely the validity of anything passing through Walker’s lips in the form of the spoken word. Streamlines = remove all public interest regulation pertaining to (fill in appropriate legislation or activity). You likely just forgot your category, “Lies,” beyond the tag, “Scott Walker.”

    PS: Stresses the urgency of Justice Roggensack needing to find future employment or her retirement this spring (thinking ahead here a bit on the constitutionality of “streamlining”).

    1. Sorry forgot a key word. …Roggensack needing to find “different” future employment…

  3. Just to share what I think about this, published in Verse Wisconsin 110,


    Wrap your fist around the handle of a butcher knife
    and drive it deep into the flesh,
    into musculature and vital organs.
    Feel the soft resistance as what holds together is torn apart.

    Drive it deep into the flesh,
    then carve an opening until the guts pour out.
    Then scoop it all away.

    See if you can do it without harming the environment,
    tear the wound open with strict environmental regulations.
    Let the deeply buried toxins surface into air and water,
    into matter and spirit…

    see if it turns into god,
    or see which god arises.

    It’s one helluva powerful feeling.

    The pit that is opened is opened.
    What lived in what is now space, empty and laden,
    no longer lives – it is not there anymore.
    What is killed remains killed.

    If this is the best we can do to create a human economy,
    then this is exactly what we will get.

    [margaret swedish]

    1. Very pleased to see the infinitely crucial context of your art brought so succinctly to the fight for our environment and our ultimate struggle for survival as a species. Thank you margaret swedish.

    2. I take it then that you don’t use any products that are derived from mining or do you just like to pretend it doesn’t happen as long as it’s not in your backyard?

      1. Sigh – forgetmyscreenname, anonymous. Of course.

        It’s bold to judge someone’s lifestyle when you don’t know them. And I doubt you would ever live as simply or with as light an ecological footprint as I do. If we all did, the need for mining would be slashed in dramatic fashion. If we recycled more successfully, kept our gadgets longer (I’m typing on a 7-year old laptop and will use it until it dies), and didn’t need screens in every god-blessed room in the house (or small apartment), but, really, I don’t know who I’m writing to, so it doesn’t matter. What I do know is that if we keep using the earth like this, our human future will be short.

        1. Just saying that it’s really easy to come up with overly dramatic poetry like sticking the earth with a butcher knife… but if that’s the case and it’s that serious why do you have ANY gadgets or own a computer at all? It’s like Al Gore living it up in his mansion and flying around the world to collect his environmental awards, while preaching to the rest of us.

          I recycle diligently and keep gadgets quite long and don’t even have some gadgets – if that matters to you. But I think it’s disingenuous to oppose the mine an then turn around and buy ANY products at all as the result of mining. Do you oppose any and all mining everywhere, because if it’s a “butcher knife” here, then it is everywhere else too.

          1. And when are we going to hear something (much less any cutting verse) a bit less dramatic from you? If my water is polluted, my rice beds killed, my air filled with dust and a private company pockets 10’s of $billions that prevents me from even affording my own coffin as a result of allowing this particular mining to proceed, it matters little about my consumer choices I make today.

            That mine, if indeed it ever happens, will be a good place for you to practice your purity trolling. There won’t be any fish. And that is purity as in a pure case of headupyourassiness.

            1. My point is that if you feel so strongly that your water will be polluted and air filled with dust, then stop contributing to the problem with your consumer choices. You can’t scream “no mining” from the rooftops and then use all those products as a result of mining. Where do you think they come from? How can you not see the ridiculousness in that?

              1. The focus on consumer choices keeps us from addressing the essential questions about industrial growth economies and their complete and total unsustainability. Our environmental crises are not a matter of individual choices and behaviors, they are systemic. The human economy on this planet needs to be changed substantively, or we will soon not have a livable planet at all.

                  1. Actually, that’s not scientifically, socially, culturally, historically, or biologically true. Your choices and behaviors are profoundly affected and conditioned by all your connections with everything else that surrounds you, all that has been, the culture into which you were born, the biology of which you are a part, the influences of the people among whom you were raised, historical conditions, cultural influences (now dominated by corporate advertising). Research shows that our choices are conditioned by a thousand influences of which we are even mostly unaware – until we get out of our trap of individualism – and BECOME AWARE.

              2. Nobody missed your point the first time, repeating it two more times isn’t rendering it any more validity. Attacking art, claiming anyone can easily do it, and throwing in your other two straw men to distract from the original post question (can mining be done in an environmentally safe manor especially in the case inferred, the Penokee Hills?) simply reinforces my prior statement.

                Seems your screen name is not all you forgot. Do an online search for purity troll and straw man arguments. That can be done with the feature titled Google, likely visible someplace on you monitor. Sheesh.

                1. I wasn’t attacking art. I’m just saying it’s easy to act high and mighty making up poems or holding up protest signs or screaming “no mine”, but if you don’t follow through by not creating a demand for the very raw materials that you detest being mined, well then it’s kind of a farce.

                  To answer the question, yes I think mining can be done in a safe manor. If you disagree and stand by your principles, turn off your computer now. Or first you might want to google where your electricity comes from.

  4. Yes, any Scott Walker proclamation is cause for concern. Unfortunately, it’s usually our bee keeper blowing smoke. So what do we do? We put on our masks and watch carefully. Even suburbs are environmentally damaging, so we establish parks, make sure there is adequate sewage, protect wetlands, ect. With any mine, we control the damage by spending the time and money necessary to do all that’s possible. “Streamlining” is way down on the priority list.

    1. Your comments beyond your statement in the first sentence are pretty sketchy. Put on our masks and watch carefully? What watch the mining commence and pray for no bad outcomes, or watch the legislators carefully while they push this giveaway of public resources to private interests and forever negatively affect our clean water interests?

      Existing suburbs are not comparable at all to the Bad River system, a near pristine watershed, one of the last in the state. Are you suggesting mining on that watershed is OK? Are you saying we can control the certain environmental degradation if mining there proceeds?

      Your last sentence, please, whose priority list, yours? Eliminating regulations and castrating the permit requirements are step one for these legislators. Number one on their priority list.

      Not trying to be difficult or offensive to you, here, but your statement is highly unintelligible.

  5. I sincerely apologize to any other readers of this thread for feeding the troll. Admittedly, I am occasionally drawn in by a red herring (January 19, 2013 at 12:53 pm) by a gratuitous statement attacking art (January 19, 2013 at 2:22 pm), the blatant denial of said behavior followed by attacking the artist (January 20, 2013 at 11:20 pm), by purity fallacies, by sweeping generalizations and the presentation of false dilemmas.

    Fortunately, one view of the answer to the original question, is there environmentally sound mining, was ultimately ascertained (January 20, 2013 at 11:20 pm), though unfortunately, preceded by spurious assumptions and trailed by equally supercilious further demands formulated around patent circular logic.

    Zach, thanks for the venue and the opportunity to indulge some mental gymnastics concerning your initial question.

    Though a bit off topic, I was inspired by the above diversion to think of a solution to two problems. We could rightfully deny any mining in this particular location by confiscating and melting down all semi-automatic weapons, both long and short, re-purpose the casings, powder and projectiles, and likely have the raw material necessary (while preventing considerable human anguish and expense on several fronts [both emotional and financial]) and savings, to direct to more socially positive ends.

    1. Believe it or not, criticism does not constitute an attack.

      If the above poem’s words “rap your fist around the handle of a butcher knife
      and drive it deep into the flesh” were instead defending a vegetarian/veganism, I would not expect to find that person in McDonalds, even if it was “only” once a week. (Or wearing leather shoes as super Id points out above). So much for your purity fallacy.

      The real red herring and fallacy is the question itself. You could just as easily ask if there is such a thing as environmentally sound driving of a car. Is turning on the light switch environmentally sound? Using plastic bags? Owning a TV, computer, cell phone? None of those things are ‘environmentally sound’ either. Is there such a thing as a “safe” abortion?

      Interesting idea about melting down guns. Would your trained unicorns be capable of confiscating them from gang bangers, criminals, and terrorists? I wonder what “socially positive end” you would repurpose the raw material for? Not to mention that confiscating anything signals a society that is no longer free.

      Maybe I am the one who has now been sucked in by a “troll.” Have a good day!

  6. There would be a much greater chance of environmentally sound mining in Wisconsin if our near-perfect existing mining statute were left in play. Any change to that law which doesn’t in fact strengthen it would make environmentally sound mining less likely. It is certain that the bill once again being considered in our legislature will allow for extreme degradation of our pristine northwoods air and water. More specifically, it is scientifically impossible to mine the iron ore sequestered in the Penokee Range. No amount of semantic games can belie the fact that the overburden is laden with sulfides. Claiming that iron mining does not create acidic runoff is, in this case, just a word game. Fortunately, the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians takes its role as guardian of Mother Earth seriously, and they have the legal power to back that up.

  7. You cannot come up with an environmentally safe mountain top removal iron ore mine anywhere in the world. In fact, here are the FACTS:

    We can however come up with several independent studies, one done by the 1997 Mining Impact Committee who studied the influence of Flambeau Mine. Results showed there was absolutely no economic advantage to the counties around the mine, not in per capita income, or unemployment. In fact, Rusk county had the worst unemployment records of the entire state for the time when the mine was in operation.

    However, we were TOLD by people like Walker and Tiffany back then, that there would be thousands of jobs and bring new economic prosperity to the region. These were some of the same lying players in this current corporate mining cartel’s attempted takeover of the north. WMC told people back then how great it would be for them and how they would not pollute. Funny, Flambeau Mining Company was found guilty of 11 counts of polluting the waters.

    In 1995, UW Madison issued “The Socioeconomic Impacts of Mining in Wisconsin,” a report written by an interdisciplinary team of eight University of Wisconsin-Madison students with assistance from Professor William Freudenburg. The report was presented to the Wisconsin State Legislature, Assembly Natural Resources Committee, 1995:

    “Predicting economic impacts of a mine on a nearby community is complicated and by its very nature laden with uncertainties. The predictions used to assess economic impacts are often just ‘shots in the dark.’ The literature has shown that the margin of error in the past commonly reaches 100%.”

    So please, honestly, you are the ones with no proof whatsoever of your case. You cannot show us one open pit iron ore mine that has not polluted. And in fact, when people start using less of what mines offer, there will be fewer mines. I was asked if I drive a car, as if that is proof I am a hypocrit. I drive a 1992 Honda. How many new cars do you people need? And what about weapons of war? How much of this ore would be shipped overseas to make weapons that would then be used on the US?

    And I ask you, what did you make your coffee with this morning? Brush your teeth? It’s called WATER and I challenge you to live without water as much as you want me to live without my 20 year old car.

    SO please, show me some pristine mines. Show me how this pit, as deep as three football fields that will displace billions of cubic kilometers of rock containing pyrite, which has sulfides, won’t damage us forever up north. We will never get back our precious clean air, clean water and quiet solitude, the beauty, gone forever.

    4 miles is just the start, They can go as big as 22 miles. Three football fields deep in the middle of the watershed that serves the entire region.

    I will not even mention treaty rights and how they are violated, or how the Army Corp of Engineers wrote a letter about this bill saying its flawed and it will cause delays in permitting among other things, like, how Bad River has federal rights to monitor the ceded territories. And if you want not up on treaty rights, remember if you think they should be removed, then we have to give back the land to them.

    Wise up.

    1. Your links are very bias.

      Travel up to Virgina Minnesota where there are several active taconite mines operating within regulation and a new one opening next month. See for yourself.

      Or stop using products that derive their raw materials from mining.

    2. “We will never get back our precious clean air, clean water and quiet solitude, the beauty, gone forever.”

      Funny, I could say the same thing about those noisy wind turbines that pollute my view of the “pristine” countryside. And try to live by one.

      1. Not only that but wind turbines require raw materials, especially steel and copper. How do you make steel? Iron ore. So no mining, no wind turbines.

        Perhaps the question posed here instead should be “Is mining of raw materials ok so long as it happens somewhere else far, far away?”

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