The author of the state Senate’s mining legislation says his bill compromises with opponents of the Assembly version. Both bills have a 360-day time-table to review permit applications for iron mines. Republican Neal Kedzie, who chairs the Senate’s special mining panel, says, however, his version allows for 30-day extensions.
Whereas the Assembly approved version automatically grants a permit if the process goes past the deadline, the Senate bill allows for a possible refund for the applicant. The Elkhorn lawmaker says this will keep the DNR “on track” and provide “more certainty” for the applicant.
Kedzie says his bill would also tax mine operators based on how much iron ore they take out of the ground, instead of how much money the company makes “which would have a little more certainty as far as the revenue streams are concerned.”
His bill also brings back contested case hearings where opponents can challenge various DNR decisions. The Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters calls this provision the only improvement. Director Anne Sayers says the Senate proposal still allows for pollution of drinking water and the filling of sensitive wetlands with mining waste.
A public hearing is set for Friday at UW-Platteville. Kedzie says another hearing would be held closer to the proposed mine site in Ashland as early as next week.
Rick Schuh-WHBY contributed to this report