November 26, 2014

Moving forward on mining

Two key state Senators believe there may be a way to move forward on the contentious issue of mining in Wisconsin. Democrat Bob Jauch and Republican Dale Schultz met with Governor Scott Walker recently, and Jauch says they found themselves in agreement. “There’s nothing but a sincere commitment to work on this issue and get it resolved,” Jauch said. Legislation which would have rewritten Wisconsin’s existing mining regulations failed to pass the state Senate in March, when Jauch and Schultz raised concerns.

Former DNR Secretary George Meyer, and Wisconsin Mining Association president Tim Sullivan have been asked to work on the issue. “I think it is fully possible that by the start of the next legislative session we could have reached a consensus,” said Schultz. “Hopefully we’ll see more interest in mining in Wisconsin in a number of areas.” Jauch agreed with that potential. “If the right individuals who represent diverse viewpoints put together a good package, it can be a blueprint that we can support.”

Schultz said that in retrospect, it was a mistake to not involve the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa in discussions about rewriting the state’s mining laws to allow for an iron ore mine near that tribe’s lands. He said not finding a way to involve the tribe a substantive way “was a big mistake.” Bad River chairman Mike Wiggins voiced concerns about a proposed mine in the environmentally sensitive Penokee Range when he delivered the 2011 State of the Tribes address. Schultz believes all the state’s tribes ought to be involved in any future discussions. Schultz said the most recent State of the Tribes address by Ho-Chunk chairman Jon Greendeer showed the tribes are looking to work with the state.