Wisconsin’s “prove it first” law on new sulfide mines in the state has moved a step closer to repeal. The Assembly voted 55-38 on Thursday to allow mining companies to apply for permits to mine for copper, gold, silver, and zinc, without having to prove that they’ve done it elsewhere in North America without causing long term damage to the environment.
Proponents of the legislation contend that mining is safer and cleaner now than it was in 1998 when the so-called moratorium passed the legislature and was signed into law by Republican Governor Tommy Thompson. Opponents say ending the moratorium will put the state’s surface and groundwater resources at risk.
Republican Representatives Travis Tranel, Jeff Mursau, Pat Snyder, and Todd Novak joined all Democrats in voting no — and the Assembly made some changes to try and appease senators who are said to remain skeptical. Among other things, no mining could take place where permits are being challenged — and it would be harder for companies to find loopholes to avoid paying taxes.