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Fox guards henhouse in state mine law

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According to state Sen. Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, Wisconsin mining and environmental laws under Gov. Scott Walker’s watch have been written by Gogebic Taconite. G-Tac is proposing a 22-mile open pit taconite mine in the Penokee hills of northern Wisconsin.

Given the irreparable damage that a taconite mine would do to the Penokee-Bad River watershed, which provides pure drinking water for thousands of people and nourishes the wild rice of the Kakagon Sloughs. The public needs to know the kind of person who is behind this scheme.

According to the Dec. 15 article by Wisconsin Citizens Media Coop, a group of citizen journalists, legal action is pending against G-Tac’s President, Bill Williams, for causing arsenic contamination in the groundwater while overseeing the Cobre Las Cruces mine in Seville, Spain. Williams started work as director of Cobre Las Cruces in January 2006, and seven months later, began extracting clean water and re-injecting wastewater back into the aquifer without the inspection certificate for the project (one of many violations).

One result of the unauthorized operation was contamination of a local aquifer with arsenic-tainted water, including flooding wells at a nearby farm. Similar contamination (and loss of well water altogether) is anticipated for farmers and residents of northern Wisconsin, should G-Tac prevail.

Williams left Spain in 2010 to begin work for G-Tac and according to their now defunct website, he “managed all facets of the Cobre Las Cruces mining operation ...” In July 2011, at a presentation in Ashland, he referred to mine in Spain as a successful example of mining. While claiming that new (still-not-revealed) technology would save the Bad River Watershed from the negative impacts of mountaintop removal, he was fully aware of the impending legal action against him for severe environmental damage.

Williams has exhausted three appeals in Spain and according to Ecologistas en Acción, is expected to be served by the courts as soon as the trial date is set.

Williams misled Wisconsin by failing to disclose the circumstances in Spain and lied by saying that the mine was a success. Along with lobbyists Bob Seitz and Tim Myers, G-Tac denies verifiable scientific evidence; discredits experts who warn of environmental disaster; hired an illegal (un-permitted) paramilitary to frighten citizens legally accessing managed forestland; and has bought off legislators in order to pass mining laws written by the company itself. Bill Williams and G-Tac have demonstrated criminal intentions and should not be allowed in the state.

We are hopeful the people of Wisconsin care enough about their water and land that they will take action to repeal mining laws that have been put in place by what can only be termed eco-terrorists. For detailed background on this story, please access: http://wcmcoop.com.

Editor’s note: This letter was submitted with more than 100 signatures, including Bayfield Mayor Larry MacDonald, Washburn Mayor Scott Griffiths, and business owners and residents from Illinois, Minnesota, Michigan and throughout Wisconsin.

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