December 19, 2014

Senate committee discusses mining

Wisconsin’s mining laws must change. So says Tim Sullivan, chairman of the Wisconsin Mining Association, as he testifies before the Senate Select Committee on Mining. He says thousands of high-paying jobs are buried under current mining regulations. “In short, those who describe Wisconsin’s current mining statute as ‘job stoppers’ are correct.”

The state’s current mining law needs improvement, Sullivan says, and the permitting process needs to be transparent and involve all stakeholders. Also, he says the state cannot enforce regulations that would contradict federal law.

Poplar Democrat Bob Jauch is on the senate panel. “I’m extremely disappointed with the vagueness of (Sullivan’s) presentation today. I’m delighted that he admitted that the 426 needs improvement; I’m deeply disappointed he didn’t specify what those areas were.”

George Meyer, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, also testifies, saying his organization opposes AB 426 — legislation that failed in the senate earlier this year by just one vote. “I can tell you, if it’s just a modified AB-426, you can’t put enough lipstick on it.”

Meyer says he’s not opposed to mining, if it’s done in an environmentally sound manner.

Richland Center Republican Dale Schultz wants everyone to work together on a new bill, rather than accept the baggage of the previous bill.

The Senate Select Committee on Mining will meet again next Thursday to discuss an alternative to AB 426. That bill would have made numerous changes to state law in an effort to help make it easier for Gogebic Taconite to construct a $1.5 billion iron ore mine in Ashland and Iron counties.

AUDIO: Jackie Johnson report 1:50