July 31, 2014

Walker renews push for mining bill

Governor Scott Walker is calling on lawmakers to act swiftly on legislation that would overhaul the approval process for an iron ore mine in Wisconsin.

The governor made several stops across the state Wednesday, speaking at businesses that could benefit from the proposed mine in Iron and Ashland counties. Gogebic Taconite abandoned plans for the project after the Legislature failed to pass a mining bill last spring that would have streamlined the approval process for the project. Walker urged the incoming Legislature to take up the issue again when they return to the Capitol next week, saying the mine has the potential to create a massive number of jobs in the state.

AUDIO: Gov. Scott Walker (:18)

Speaking in Green Bay Wednesday morning, Walker argued the $1.5 billion dollar Gogebic project has the potential to create thousands of jobs at the mine and in supporting industries.

Walker says lawmakers should pass a bill that parallels what was taken up last session, while making “tweaks” to language that will address some of the concerns that came up during the debate. The governor says it’s possible to pass a bill that makes it easier for Gogebic’s project to get moving, while also addressing the environmental protection concerns.

The governor says it should be easier for lawmakers to find common ground this spring, since one of the major factors he believes derailed the bill last year will no longer be in play. Walker says Democrats were under a lot of pressure to oppose the mining bill last spring because of the recall. He says the jobs the mine would have created could have been seen as a boost for his campaign, and national groups trying to remove him from office did not want that kind of victory on his record.

Republican leaders in the Assembly also announced Wednesday that a mining bill will be one of the first pieces of legislation introduced when the session starts next week, and they will work to make sure it is passed as quickly as possible.

WHBY’s Mike Kemmeter contributed to this report.