July 28, 2014

Walker signs mining bill (AUDIO)

Governor Scott Walker says new mining law means new jobs for Wisconsin. Walker signed a bill, which rewrites the state’s mining laws, Monday at Oldenburg Group, a mining equipment manufacturer in Rhinelander.

The Republican governor conceded that new law will be challenged in court, but that would be the case regardless of what the bill ended up looking like. “There are some people in the state – and I respect that – that just don’t want any mines, under any circumstances,” Walker said. The Bad River Band of Chippewa is vehemently opposed to a proposed open-pit iron ore mine in Ashland and Iron Counties, as are environmental groups. And recent polling has found public opposition. “That’s because all they’re hearing is the scare tactics,” Walker said.

AUDIO: Walker Q&A 6:15

Walkers predicted that courts will ultimately uphold the new law. “The way it’s set up, it allows the state DNR to work with the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers . . . in a timely basis where we can protect both our environmental and economic interests, without one offsetting the other,” he said. The legislation passed the Wisconsin state Senate and Assembly without a single Democratic vote.

Walker signed the bill Monday at Oldenburg Group, a mining equipment manufacturer in Rhinelander. The bill is seen as clearing the way for the iron ore mine to be developed by Gogebic Taconite. “When you’ve got a company like this that’s willing to invest a billion and a-half dollars in the economy, they want to know that if they follow the rules . . . that the rules aren’t going to change on them,” said Walker. He predicted that jobs would be developed even before permits for the mine are issued. “They’ll start making incremental investments.”