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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Open Letter to Wisconsin State Representatives

I am writing as a proud Wisconsinite, father & grandfather. I have tirelessly educated and informed people, in the Great Lakes region and around the world, about sustainability and economic factors referred to as externalities. Sustainability requires us to understand our relationship with the environment, that each action we take leaves a legacy for future generations. The true costs of our actions or inaction can be hard to calculate as they, even more than most potential benefits, often last long after our time here on earth has passed. A toxic legacy that will persist forever, in the sediments of the Fox River, in the lakes on Isle Royale and in the soil we have to grow crops on costs many lives compromises our health and reduces quality of life for many generations going forward. What is the true cost of that?
Wisconsin has a strong tradition of facing ecological problems head-on perhaps because we had made so many mistakes. Now we are facing massive ecological damage that is 100% preventable. I am referring to the proposed changes to our states mining laws. Our current laws have served us well for many years and recent changes in enforcement as well as proposed changes to the laws will allow contamination of hundreds of miles of streams, as well as the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River.
Having lived in several mining districts around the country as a young man, I am uniquely qualified to speak on issues of externalities associated with mining. First and foremost are the societal costs of extraction. Typically, mining is a young man’s job. They come from far away and take what little they might save away forever. They come for the fast money and spend a much larger percentage of their income on alcohol, tobacco, firearms, illicit drugs and prostitution. In addition, whatever ecological ethic is in the population prior to mining, is undermined by having to see, daily, the wanton corruption of the land, air, water and the lives of local people, their families and their children’s opportunities for the profit of those who are too far away to care. Violence to the earth leads to more violence in the general population as individuals with no future but mining become more and more desperate.
The second part of the story is the long-term destruction of both the land and the water. In the case of the proposed mining district in northern Wisconsin, the ore body that they are hoping to exploit contains iron yes but it is also extremely low grade ore. The overburden, which needs to be removed, as well as the ore body itself contains sulfide deposits which inevitably cause acid mine drainage. This, in turn, renders the entire watershed inhospitable to fish, collapsing the aquatic food chain. This condition will remain for hundreds of years, perhaps thousands. Long after the mine owners have gotten what they were after, with the land ruined forever, the citizens are left destitute. The lies and fanciful claims that have been made about how wonderful and lucrative mining will be for our state are not based on any realistic science or experience. In fact the current laws that have served for many years, were arrived at by hundreds of concerned scientists as well as hundreds of thousands of concerned citizens, working together to assure that our state would have reasonable protection for the environment we all share. This is the best way to secure health and a future for the greatest number of state residents. Far more jobs can be created at much less cost in conservation, ecotourism and by recycling the refined iron that has been scattered across the northern tier of counties.
 Immensely concerned, Tony Saladino Director ECO-tours of Wisconsin Inc. one, double four, five Porlier street 54301 (nine twenty) double eight four-triple two four.

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