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Friday, 04 April 2014 08:15

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker Is an "Eco-Terrorist," as He Permits World's Largest Open-Pit Iron Ore Mine

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ascottwalkerEco-terrorist Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (Photo: DonkeyHotey)The other day BuzzFlash at Truthout ran a commentary that pointed out that it is those industries who are destroying the Earth who are committing acts of eco-terrorism. The just-released United Nations report on the dire future of the planet due to climate change should be pulling the fire alarms in nations across the world, but it's not. The White House is pretty much ignoring it, and Congress will probably be revisiting the farcical debate over Benghazi soon.

It is, therefore, not just the fossil fuel industries who are eco-terrorists, it is also those politicians who support the plundering of the earth, its pollution, and backing industries that one way or another are involved in a process that leads to a faster rate of Earth's destruction.

Take Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin, for example.  He is allowing the construction of the "world's largest open-pit iron ore mine" in a pristine wilderness in the northern part of the state. As described by Dan Kaufman in a recent Sunday New York Times (NYT) op-ed, Walker is going to allow a project that will cause state-sanctioned toxic pollution:

The $1.5 billion mine would initially be close to four miles long, up to a half-mile wide and nearly 1,000 feet deep, but it could be extended as long as 21 miles. In its footprint lie the headwaters of the Bad River, which flows into Lake Superior, the largest freshwater lake in the world and by far the cleanest of the Great Lakes. Six miles downstream from the site is the reservation of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, whose livelihood is threatened by the mine.

To facilitate the construction of the mine and the company’s promise of 700 long-term jobs, Gov. Scott Walker signed legislation last year granting GTac [the mining company] astonishing latitude. The new law allows the company to fill in pristine streams and ponds with mine waste. It eliminates a public hearing that had been mandated before the issuing of a permit, which required the company to testify, under oath, that the project had complied with all environmental standards. It allows GTac to pay taxes solely on profit, not on the amount of ore removed, raising the possibility that the communities affected by the mine’s impact on the area’s roads and schools would receive only token compensation.

Futhermore, as an article about the negative impact on climate change of iron ore processing in Australia notes, for every 2.5 tons of the mineral processed, 4 tons of CO2 are released into the atmospere.  In addition, the clearing of trees to create the mining operation reduces acres of forest that absorb CO2.

Last year, indigenous residents protested the first stages of construction of the pit and were met with a paramilitary force. Kaufman discusses the importance of the area to the Bad River Chippewa Tribe:

The Bad River and several other tribes assert that the state has no right to permit the enormous mine without their agreement since the site lies in “ceded territory,” an area covering a large portion of Northern Wisconsin where tribal members maintain special hunting, fishing and harvesting rights enshrined in federal treaties....

In the Chippewa tradition, a decision is made based on how it will affect people seven generations forward. By contrast, the company’s optimistic estimate for the life span of the first phase of the mine is 35 years.

Meanwhile, other experts claim that the mining operation will also cause the release of sulfides (that cause acid rain and pollute clean water), and one geologist claims that he discovered the presence of asbestos in GTac site sampling.

Walker, of course, is trying to sell his eco-terrorism with the promise of more jobs for the Badger State, but this is the same justification used for every Earth-destroying fossel fuel and mineral project.  Jobs will be of little value if many of the residents find that the legacy of their work is either terminal illness or a planet that they and their children and grandchildren cannot inhabit.

As BuzzFlash at Truthout has noted in earlier commentaries, federal and some state legislation has been passed that allows the jailing of people who protest environmental destruction and animal abuse under severe "eco-terrorism" laws in a wide number of circumstances.

However, the people who must be held accountable are not the advocates for the future health of the planet; they are the politicians like Scott Walker who are speeding up the demise of life as we know it.

Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.