Legislators introduce bipartisan mining reformA bipartisan iron ore mining bill was unveiled Tuesday at a Madison news conference.
By: By Mike Simonson/Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
A bipartisan iron ore mining bill was unveiled Tuesday at a Madison news conference.
Bad River Tribal Chairman Mike Wiggins complained at a recent mining bill hearing about a wall separating Democrats and Republicans over the mining issue. That wall may be coming down.
Republican Sen. Dale Schultz of Richland Center and Democratic Sen. Bob Jauch of Poplar announced a moderate iron ore mining bill addressing environmental and economic concerns of the Assembly bill passed last month.
On the Common Ground of the Capitol Rotunda, the two legislators introduced the Wisconsin Way Mining Reform Act.
“Using Wisconsin’s existing metallic mining laws as a starting point, this piece of commonsense legislation not only provides certainty for both the mining permit applicants and the potentially impacted communities, but it does so without sacrificing our state’s treasured land ethic,” Schultz said. “There are only a few places in this state where viable iron deposits exist, and my district happens to be one of them. That’s a golden rule I’ve tried to keep in mind throughout this process. Could I defend this legislation if it came to Sauk County? With the Wisconsin Way Mining Reform Act, I believe I could.”
Schultz and Jauch were on the Senate Select Committee on Mining Jobs, a committee appointed by Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald in September, but dissolved last week. Fitzgerald said the Senate committee was not functional and wouldn’t meet an end-of-the-session deadline to pass a mining bill.
“From the first moment this hugely controversial issue came to the Capitol, my goal has been to create responsible iron mining reform in a responsible process,” Jauch said. “This is the culmination of months of public input. In crafting this legislation, we called upon the expertise and opinion of a diverse lineup of stakeholders, ranging from our Senate and Assembly colleagues to local leaders from northern Wisconsin, and from the Bad River Band to Gogebic Taconite, and various conservation groups.
“It truly was a collaborative process and I am incredibly proud of the product we came up with.”
On Saturday, Jauch and Schultz will hold an informational session 1-3 p.m. in the Morse Town Hall. Morse and nearby Mellen is the area of the Penokee Range where a $1.5 billion iron ore mine has been proposed by G-Tac.
The Superior Telegram contributed to this report.