Happy Groundhog Day, early. Celebrate with Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s latest mine propaganda.

We’re locked in the Wisconsin edition of the film Groundhog Day. Assuming you haven’t seen the film, allow me to summarize it briefly: Bill Murray portrays a weather man mysteriously doomed to live and relive the same day – Groundhog Day – in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Eventually that weatherman makes it out of the trippy trap but he can’t see his way out of it and in the middle he goes kinda nuts.  His reports from the town’s festival  get stranger, and bleaker as the days wear on.


Brace yourself.  There is some bleakness in today’s post, dear reader.  But know that I also have faith we will get out of this repetitive bullshit story someday just as Bill Murray did.

As we all know, the Wisconsin legislature has submitted again essentially the same open pit iron mine bill from last year. And as all who pay the slightest attention understand, this bill was written by the mine company that proposes the project – Gogebic Taconite. We knew that because we saw this video from 10 months ago in which Scott Fitzgerald says “…The corporations started building that bill…” He acknowledges it. They did build that bill.

Moving right along, allow me to show you exhibit B – the latest Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article:
Mining firm Gogebic Taconite has role in drafting bill by Lee Bergquist (MJS is a newspaper which I’ve heard still has THE greatest circulation in the state of Wisconsin.)

The paper was forced to pull back the curtain on the mine machinations ever so slightly due to the fact that One Wisconsin Now released drafting records for the mine bill. The records reveal how deftly the corporation carved its wishes into our state’s legislation.
MSJ doesn’t let it slip that it’s One Wisconsin Now that revealed the docs. ’til close to the end of the piece.


In reading the article, I was struck by this terse sentence floating in white space.

At first I took it as some Orwellian proclamation intended to make the citizen peons give up. I also take it as strong medicine to counteract the next sentence:

Gogebic is proposing a $1.5 billion open pit iron ore mine in Ashland and Iron counties but not until lawmakers write laws that the company sees as more favorable to iron mining. 

The reader must be reassured that her or his representatives are for the people and by the people instead of threadbare puppets with corporate hands jammed so deep up their hollow centers.


Next we read this:

In addition to changes in language affecting the environment, Gogebic is pushing for more regulatory certainty to ensure that the state Department of Natural Resources will move decisively on a mining permit.”

Here the paper is using the language of public relations firms found from Australia to British Columbia to Wisconsin and wherever else mining PR firms ply their wares. (I googled it.).

Next we see this crucial nugget:

The entire process could take several years. Language in the bill calls for the DNR to act on a permit in 420 days, although records show that an aide to Sen. Tom Tiffany (R-Hazlehurst) told bill drafters that the issue of timelines could be amended after the bill is introduced.

That’s only part of the truth. I read the “records” MJS mentions.    I recognize that newspaper writers might not be scientists nor are they likely to be DNR attorneys.* However, MJS could have revealed more.

* It appears the mine company requested some subjective language  where testing is concerned- which looks like legal wriggle room to escape testing of leached mine waste.

* It also appears that the mine company requested discretion when it comes to setting the separation between test sites, specifically the minimum distance between test sites.  All the better to enable cherry picking where toxins will be sampled.

The remainder of the article is standard tit for tat and C.Y.A. for the newspaper.  But this tidbit near the end of the article is a stand-out for manipulation. If it were in the propaganda Olympics, we’d give it a 10 in the twist category:


“You didn’t see any members of the public, you didn’t see Republican leaders asking environmental groups how the bill should be stronger,” said Scot Ross, executive director of One Wisconsin Now.

But Sen. Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend), a member of the Senate panel that will take up mining first, said he’s heard from only one environmental group – the Wisconsin Wetlands Federation – and only after a constituent asked the group to contact the senator.

“If something that the environmental groups think is such an environmental disaster, you would think that they would have come in to talk to me,” Grothman said. “I’ve been waiting to hear from them.”


Scot Ross’s point is that the Republican leaders did not approach environmental groups.  He didn’t say environmental groups were supposed to approach the Republicans, and he sure as heck didn’t say they were supposed to consult with the hardest right wing nut in the state, Kwanzaa freedom fighter Glenn Grothman.

They don’t have that kind of time to waste.


About Those Documents….

Here are all of the drafting documents and emails shared by One Wisconsin Now. 

Below are the portions that I reference.

I welcome you to review what I read and comment at this post.  The easily understood bit that I reference in this post is extracted from this email to Becky Tradewill from Larry Konopacki. Konopacki refers to Jen Esser who is Tom Tiffany’s aide.  Senator Tom Tiffany is the legislator who introduced the 2013 mine bill:


This is the #15 of the instructions his email refers to:


Here’s instruction 28

Important note here:
Another narrative behind the curtain exists. More folks now understand that the bill reduces regulations that protect the environment in the entire state AND that there’s gold in them there hills by Wausau. If curious, see this letter from Aquila, and this information on depth of gold deposits, and here’s a map from Aquila:

*I’m not an attorney, I am not with the DNR, and I am not a scientist.

FINAL note:
Because some of what MJS put in this piece is so ballsy, I took screen captures and have parked them below. I did this just in case the article gets altered later – something that happens at newspapers on occasion.


Wisconsin Citizens Shut Out While Out-Of-State Mining Company Helps Draft Bill to Develop Massive Open Pit Mine – ONE WISCONSIN NOW PRESS RELEASE
January 29, 2013


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