September 1, 2014

Walker to pitch mining jobs agenda

Wisconsin’s governor will use the first business day of the New Year to rally support from industries, for more relaxed mining laws in Wisconsin. Republican Governor Scott Walker will speak at businesses in Green Bay, Schofield, and Milwaukee to highlight what he’s calling a “Mining for Jobs” agenda. Walker plans to have state legislators at his side, as he makes a pitch to create mining jobs.

A bill that would have streamlined Wisconsin’s approval process for mining proposals was defeated in the last session of the legislature, after one Republican state Senator joined with Democrats who opposed the relaxation of environmental standards, and the elimination of public challenges to parts of the approval process. Democrats used a short-lived majority in the final months of last year to produce their own package for the new session which begins next week. That proposal calls for a two-year time limit for the state Department of Natural Resources to approve new mines while preserving environmental protections, and allowing opponents to challenge the proposals through what are known as in contested-case hearings.

Gogebic Taconite – the firm which last year scrapped plans to construct a massive iron ore mine near Hurley – is against the Democratic bill, as is Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, the state’s largest business lobby. Governor Walker recently said he wants a bill that both creates jobs, and protects the environment.