Mining was an issue thrown around during a gathering of business groups Thursday at Madison’s Monona Terrace. During a session with business owners, Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch was asked how they can convince lawmakers to pass legislation which speeds up permitting of iron ore mining. She encouraged the crowd members to visit his-or-her legislators just two blocks away at the capitol.
“Let them know how you feel about this legislation, and this is important not just for the Northwoods of Wisconsin but because this will have a ripple effect all over Wisconsin.”
Kleefisch said a proposed iron ore mine in Ashland and Iron Counties will not only provide mining jobs but bring small businesses to the region and be a boost for Wisconsin manufacturers of mining equipment.
Kleefisch’s remarks echoed statements by Governor Scott Walker who also spoke at the event.
The lobbying day was sponsored by Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, a group in support of AB 426. In a one-on-one interview, WMC’s Environmental Policy Director Scott Manley clarified why they oppose allowance of contested case hearings. These hearings were included in an earlier Senate bill but not in the Assembly version.
AUDIO: Manley summing up contested case hearings (:53)
He also said there is a big misconception the proposal will allow off-site environmental impacts from iron mines.
WMC claims the Assembly bill requires handling of all solid waste to be approved by the DNR and it requires monitoring of neighboring water bodies both before and during the mine’s operation.
However the League of Conservation Voters and critics say aggressive misplacement of earth in the mining process can result in additional lead and arsenic finding their way into surface and groundwater. The legislature’s finance committee is hearing the Assembly bill today.