August 27, 2014

Mining vote coming Monday

The state Legislature’s finance committee will vote Monday on a bill overhauling Wisconsin’s mining regulations. The measure is aimed at streamlining the approval process for a proposed iron ore mine in far northern Wisconsin, although critics argue the bill puts the environment at risk.

The Joint Finance Committee is expected to endorse a Republican package that would set deadlines for the approval of state mining permits and relax certain environmental rules.

Monday’s vote would most likely send the bill to both houses. Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) expects the Senate to take up the bill next Wednesday.

Republicans want to help Gogebic Taconite create jobs by developing what would be the largest mine in state history in parts of Ashland and Iron counties. Democrats and environmentalists are concerned about possible pollution in the region and ending public challenges to DNR mining decisions.