State lawmakers will not be acting on mining legislation this week. The state Assembly was tentatively scheduled to be in session on Tuesday, to consider sweeping changes to the state’s surface mining law. “The ‘Walker strip mine bill’ guts our laws so much more than Michigan and Minnesota, there’s been so much issues raised, they almost need to go back and start from scratch, it’s such a bad bill,” says Madison Democrat, Representative Brett Hulsey.
Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald has defended the legislation, which he says will bring much needed jobs to northern Wisconsin. “We’re not all here to say that we want to rape and pillage the state of Wisconsin,” he says. “I think you’re going to hear a lot of that demagoguing. They’re calling it ‘strip mining,’ they’re calling it whatever, to say that we’re just trashing the environment.”
Fitzgerald’s office said Friday that the bill’s amendments still needed work. Gogebic Taconite wants to open a massive iron ore mine in Iron County, and proponents say the state’s mining laws need to be rewritten in order to accommodate that. The Assembly is now expected to take up the bill on January 26th.