The Idea Formerly Known As Wisconsin

The Walker administration continues its program of reducing Wisconsin to the squalid and inequitable status of a typical red state. Dan Kaufman explains a particularly alarming environmental development in an opinion piece in the New York Times.

Wisconsin’s admirable history of environmental stewardship is under attack. … 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. … 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 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. … Most distressing to many native Wisconsinites, including me, was the way the bill violated a bipartisan, reform-minded civic tradition called the Wisconsin Idea. For more than a century, the Wisconsin Idea had encouraged the use of scientific expertise to inform public policy, but the mining bill dangerously ignores geological reality.

So a rare example of an American state that governed itself responsibly, generously and competently, vanishes. The beacon of reason that used to shine from a charming corner of the upper midwest fades from the scene.

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