Letter: The nature of the beast | AspenTimes.com

Letter: The nature of the beast

Woody Allen purportedly said that “Ninety-eight percent of life is showing up.” Down here at the grass roots, it is important to show local opposition to Thompson Divide by showing up with letters to the editor and speaking on public TV and radio. Publicity can change the political climate. Sometimes, we can lose, as we shall see below.

Every level of government has some degree of discretionary power. The industry lobbying firms have deep connections to all officials and legislators who can tilt the evidence either way. The corporations can afford to wait for a favorable political climate. Their law firms never sleep at crafting more pro-business phrasing of regulations and, farther upstream, legislation. The story below illustrates the nature of the beasts that we lovers of the wilderness have to fight.

I am an enrolled member of the White Earth Band of Minnesota Chippewa Indians on my mother’s side. My father was enrolled in the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. The Bad River Band is about to become a poster child of industry rolling over local opposition. My young second cousin, Philomena Kebec, is a lawyer for the Bad River Band.

The situation was reported in The New York Times (March 29), “The Fight for Wisconsin’s Soul,” by Dan Kaufman. If you go online, you can paste this address and read the 2,000 word article itself on The New York Times website: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/30/opinion/sunday/the-fight-for-wisconsins-soul.html?_r=0.

A corporation called Gogebic Taconite has been preparing for a decade to spend $1.5 billion to develop a huge, open-pit iron mine in the headwaters of the Bad River. Gogebic Taconite’s political moment arrived with Gov. Scott Walker’s survival of a huge recall movement in 2012, despite a protest movement that was the nation’s largest since the Vietnam War.

Below is an appetizer from Dan Kaufman’s report:

“Gov. Scott Walker signed legislation last year granting GTac astonishing latitude that 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.”

The struggle for Thompson Divide is part of a generations-long struggle between the preservationists and those who would rape the land. Here in Colorado, the wider public will be affected; in Wisconsin, a small Indian reservation will be the victim. It shows what industry will do if it can.

Let’s be the mouse that roars. To learn when and where to show up to help save Thompson Divide, contact scott.d.hanley@gmail.com.

David Bentley