December 18, 2014

Walker confident mining bill will renew interest in project (AUDIO)

Governor Scott Walker says he has no doubt that Gogebic Taconite would come back to the state, if the Legislature passes a mining bill early next year.

Gogebic abandoned plans for an iron ore mine in northern Wisconsin last spring after the Legislature failed to reach a compromise on a bill that would streamline the approval process for the project. Governor Walker says he’s confident the company will revisit that decision once a similar piece of legislation is signed into law.

AUDIO: Gov. Scott Walker

Republicans will return this spring with a stronger majority in the chamber, most likely preventing another situation where a swing vote by GOP state Senator Dale Schulz (R-Richland Center) derailed final approval of the a bill. Walker has made pursuing a similar piece of legislation, which he says simply gives the company certainty about the regulatory process, a goal for the spring session of the Legislature.

The proposed mine would have stretched across Iron and Ashland counties, employing up to 700 people and possibly creating thousands of supporting jobs in the surrounding area.

The governor says the earlier lawmakers can get to work, the sooner Wisconsin can see the benefits of a mining project. He says passing a bill early would allow Gogebic to start coming in and making the investments needed to begin work on the mine. If there’s a delay though, Walker warns the company could miss out on valuable construction time and delay the project.

Walker says the state “shouldn’t let that opportunity slip away.”

AUDIO: Andrew Beckett reports (1:08)