A big turnout is expected at a public hearing on a bill which conservationists say is a “backdoor” attempt to ease regulations on mining. Although the special session bill does not mention “mining,” outdoors groups say the proposal is meant to fast track a project in Northern Wisconsin.
George Meyer, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, says AB/SB 24 curtails stakeholders’ power to prevent polluters. Under current law, if a developer wants to build along a shoreline, neighbors can contest the permit application. Meyer says this legislation cuts the DNR’s review time period from 30 days from 20 days, regardless if all information is provided on the permit application. Rather than the applicant having to prove their project follows environmental regulations, the party who complained would have to prove there is a violation, he says.
Meyer calls the jobs bill, a “jobs killer” because it allows pollution of wilderness areas which would hurt Wisconsin’s vibrant tourism industry.
Lori Grant with the River Alliance of Wisconsin says it will “undercut” protections for air-and-waterways, “but the first to benefit will be the mining industry.”
The governor’s office denies the proposal is a tailor made mining plan saying the plan is part of overall DNR reform in the works since January.
The bill receives its only public hearing today before the Senate/Assembly Natural Resources Committee.
AUDIO: Brian Moon reports (1:09)