April 20, 2014

Changes coming to mining bill

Majority Republicans in the state Legislature are expected to announce possible changes this afternoon to a bill that streamlines the permitting process for iron ore mines in Wisconsin. Amendments to the legislation will be detailed at a press conference with the four main sponsors of the package.

Details of the changes have not been released, and it remains unclear how far Republicans will go to try and satisfy opponents of the bill. Those fighting the legislation have argued it will relax environmental standards and puts wetlands and water supplies at risk near a proposed mining site in Iron and Ashland counties.

The current bill has changes to wetlands and water standards. It also removes the ability to challenge DNR mining decisions and sets a 420 day deadline for the agency to act on a mining application.

The Assembly and Senate mining panels are scheduled to vote Wednesday on the legislation. The measure would then go to the full Legislature.