July 31, 2014

Senator says mining bill not being rushed

The state Assembly is expected to take up and approve the mining bill on Thursday, less than two months after it was introduced at the Capitol. Despite a fast moving timeline, one lawmaker denies it’s being rushed through the process.

State Senator Rick Gudex (R-Fond du Lac) says he understands why people may have that impression, but argues the current bill is an enhanced version of legislation that was voted down last session. He says all the time and preparation that went into that bill saved a lot of effort this time around, since “a lot of the leg work was already done.”

The bill was approved by the state Senate last week on a 17-16 vote. If the governor signs it into law, Gudex says it will still take nearly two years for a proposed mine in northern Wisconsin to go through the permitting process.

Gudex says the bill strikes a balance in helping the economy and protecting the environment, while adding much needed jobs in the North Woods. He also hopes it will have an impact on other manufacturers in the state by helping them “grab a piece of that business.”

Critics of the bill argue it weakens environmental protections and only sets the state up for potential lawsuits, which could delay the creation of any jobs by years.

Bob Nelson, KFIZ