A northern Wisconsin lawmaker says public input is vital in any decision on mining. State Senator Bob Jauch represents the region of northwestern Wisconsin where Gogebic Taconite is exploring the possibility of an iron ore mine. Jauch said Gogebic Taconite overstepped when it had a bill drafted earlier this year. “When the company wrote the bill it was promptly rejected by Republicans, Democrats across the state as being one of the most anti-environmental pieces of legislation in the state’s history,” said Jauch. “Republican leadership has stated that there won’t be any discussion on a mining initiative until at least this fall, if not later.”
Jauch said there’s no question the area is hungry for jobs. “That isn’t the dispute. The real question is, what should be the process by which the Department of Natural Resources and the public have chance to review the applications by the company to get permits to mine the iron ore.” Jauch said the mining company had wanted to write public input through contested case hearings out of the process – something he calls unacceptable. “You’ve got to allow citizens to have the opportunity to influence the regulatory process. You can’t just leave it up to the regulators and leave it up to the company.” He’s hopeful a bipartisan approach can be taken to review existing mining law and modify it as needed.