A bill to repeal the state’s so-called “mining moratorium” is ready for a vote by the state Assembly. It passed out of the Assembly Labor Committee on a 6-3 party line vote, with criticism from Democrats including Milwaukee Representative Christine Sinicki.
“This is a bill . . . that is going to decimate our environment,” Sinicki said. “It’s going to effect generations to come.”
Republicans argue environmental safeguards will remain in place, even if the bill becomes law. “I think what we’re doing here is not going to decimate anything,” said Representative John Spiros of Marshfield.
Under the 1998 “moratorium” law, a mining company must point to a sulfide mine in either the U-S or Canada that has operated for 10 years, and be shut down for another 10 without polluting ground or surface waters, before a new mine permit would be issued. The law is also refered to as “prove it first.”
Kenosha Democrat, Representative Tod Ohnstad, pointed out that the 1998 legislation enjoyed bipartisan support. He said then-Representative Scott Walker was among the 90 members of the Assembly to vote for the measure, which was then signed into law by Republican Governor Tommy Thompson.
“There’s always going to be risks to everything we do,” said Representative Romaine Quinn of Birchwood. “Just philosophically, it’s hard for me to sit here and say no that we should never mine in our area, because we don’t want any of the risk.”
The bill will be taken up by the full Assembly on Thursday.