Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Voices of Opposition Unreported - Jim Tripp Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor,

Three people were quoted in's September 8th article Winneshiek County Zoning Commission Recommends Approval of Revised Zoning Ordinance, all giving high praise and gratitude for the work of the P&Z.  I think decorahnews readers would appreciate knowing that a few people raised serious concerns about what the passage of this ordinance would mean for our county.

One person pointed out that the greatest fine a mining company would endure if they violated the ordinance is $750 (state law maximum). She followed saying that for multi-million dollar corporations, this is simply "a cost of doing business" and likely not to be taken seriously.

A young Decorah woman who had traveled through Wisconsin on a "frac sand tour" last year, recalled an eye-opening conversation she had had with a local resident affected by this type of mining. She quoted him as saying "I wish we'd never let them in. Because once they get a foothold, you'll never get them out."

I also spoke that evening. I made clear that this ordinance would LEGALIZE frac sand mining, in the face of what could be the most unpopular proposed industrial activity this county has ever seen. I also mentioned that many county residents are of the opinion that this issue is first and foremost a civil rights issue, not a land use issue. A bold and creative response from our Board of Supervisors is in order when corporations have more say than a community majority.

Jim Tripp

(published a

Friday, September 4, 2015

What do you do?

What do you say to a Board of Supervisors who, except for one (Thank you Supervisor John Beard for being open-minded and educating yourself about our lack of real local decision-making power), will not even consider a fresh approach to local law-making? Frac sand mining is being forced on us. As are CAFOs.

The overwhelming majority of citizens are saying "We don't want this here! Here's why and here's how we might be able to keep it out." The response from Supervisors Thompson, Logsdon, Ashbacher, Kuhn: "Our hands are tied. There's nothing we can do about it. Sorry. Try contacting your state representative."

Other elected officials have taken a deeper look at our fixed regulatory system and decided there IS something we can do. Pittsburg PA and Mendocino County CA have successfully banned unwanted hazardous industry, along with nearly 200 other communities across the nation.

Threats are high, but actual legal challenges by industry and state are well under 10% of all adopted rights-based ordinances. Why so low? Because it's a hard argument to sell in America... that community majorities do not have a right to decide their fate or that of the natural systems they depend on.

So what do you say? What do you do? It's clearly time to elect some folks who are willing to step outside of the box-of-allowable-harm and stand up to this madness.