State Sen. Rob Cowles, the Green Bay area Republican who for many years has been a voice of reason on environmental issues, faces a critical test as the Legislature takes up a mining bill promoted by Gov. Scott Walker and out-of-state corporate interests.

The legislation, as it is now written, would allow for the destruction of wetlands in one of the most ecologically sensitive regions of the state.

There is no question of the threat — not just to the environment and public health but to the northern Wisconsin tourism industry, which would be devastated by damage to the lakes and streams of the region.

For Cowles, this should be a simple choice.

As the legislation is currently written, no one who has the slightest concern for the environment can vote for the bill.

Nor can anyone who understands and respects the conservation concerns of sportsmen and women who hunt and fish in northern Wisconsin.

Nor can anyone who recognizes that the tourism industry requires protection of the environment.

The only "yes" votes for this legislation will come from legislators who are more loyal to the governor than to the environment or smart economic development.

We certainly hope that Cowles, who for so many years has identified environmental protection as one of his chief concerns, will join responsible legislators of both parties in voting "no" to the legislation as it is now stands.

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(6) comments

Lynne4300
Lynne4300

Who has been polluting the water in Northern Wisconsin for years?

http://projects.nytimes.com/toxic-waters/polluters/wisconsin

witness2012
witness2012

Lynne, leave it to you to bring up the propaganda piece that the MacIvor Institute has been circulating over the past few days which states that Bad River is polluting the watershed with unacceptable levels of ecoli in their waste water.

There have been no problems for over four years. Bad River self-reported the waste water problem to the EPA and put significant money into renovating their waste water facility once they knew there was a problem. They worked with the EPA and are now in compliance.

Btw, any waste water issues were extremely minor compared to what this mine would create. I'm certainly happy to know that now Lynn and the other MacIvor Institute followers finally care about the water quality in Wisconsin.

bookman21
bookman21

If Cowles were to vote his conscience he would vote against open pit mining. The GOP gave up its conscience when they chose to replace "What would Jesus do?" with "What would Ayn Rand do?"

witness2012
witness2012

If Robert Cowles would vote no on this bill and vote his conscience, he would support from his constituents and help across the state in getting re-elected. My hope is that his support would be bipartisan and we can try to take this state back from the extremists and support moderates.

Dale Schultz has shown them the way- let's hope someone else has his courage. I'm also looking at Luther Olson, Mike Ellis, Neil Kedzie, and Sheila Harsdorf to show similar good sense and get a better deal for the citizens of the state.

hankdog
hankdog

I have known Cowles since college. He was at one time the environmental conscience of the senate republicans. Somewhere along the way he lost his spine and his will to stand up to the bullies and non-thinking far right. Last year he should have been standing shoulder to shoulder with Dale Schultz to make sure the mining bill had reasonable environmental controls. Instead he hides and doesn't say a peep. Word is that Cowles has been told by the party heads that if he doesn't toe the party line and vote in lock step with the boss that there will be a primary challenger next time with more money to spend than Cowles. Rather than show some independence, Rob took the low road and has become a back-row legislator. What a shame and squandered career.

RichardSRussell
RichardSRussell

You know, there are Republican state legislators who are sensible on certain selected issues: Cowles on the environment, Mike Ellis on campaign-finance reform, Dale Schultz on agriculture, Scott Krug on prison reform, and so on. The problem is that there's usually only one of them per issue, and on all the other issues, they're perfectly happy to line up with the Glenn Grothmans, Alberta Darlings, and Roger Rivards. And there's constant pressure to toe the line by being a good soldier and supporting their party's nominal leader, Scott Walker. It's always a crapshoot whether party loyalty or common sense will triumph on any given issue.

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