The controversial rewrite of state mining laws is on the fast track in the Assembly, with the Assembly Committee on Jobs Economy and Small Business is set to vote on the controversial bill. Representative Louis Molepske, a Stevens Point Democrat, says the legislation should have been in the Natural Resources Committee, “The committee has the expertise to deal with the issue,” he says. Molepske contends the bill has received too little public input, given the scale of the proposed open-pit iron ore mine, and says it may be setting up unrealistic expectations. “It’s one thing to say you’re going to be up and running in a year, when really that’s not the case. Even under the proposed bill (AB 426) it’s looking at a five or longer year window, with everyone signing off: state, tribes and federal government.”
Tuesday’s committee action is expected include action on an amendment which would increase the amount of tax revenues to be allocated to local governments near the mine site in Iron County. to clear the way for a vote by the full Assembly on Thursday. “We’re talking about the largest mine proposal ever in the state. Phase One alone is more than six square miles of open pit, and mine waste, with something to the effect of seven or eight million tons every year coming out of the ground for thirty years,” says Molepske.