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Poll shows majority oppose mining bill

By Mike Simonson

Wisconsin Public Radio

A new poll commissioned by the League of Conservation Voters shows more people are opposing the Republican-sponsored iron ore mining bill than a year ago.

This is the question asked by Public Policy Polling of Raleigh, North Carolina: "Supporters of the bill say that Wisconsin should streamline and eliminate some environmental regulations in order to create more open pit mining jobs in Northern Wisconsin. Opponents say the open pit mining bill is seriously flawed and it would allow mining companies to dump waste into our rivers and streams, exposing Wisconsin families to deadly chemicals like arsenic and lead. Which comes closer to your point of view?"

About 62 percent said they opposed the bill while 29 percent support the bill.

League of Conservation Voters Program Director Anne Sayers says this isn't an advocacy or "push poll."

"It fairly gives the argument on both sides of the issue on each question," she said. "We were really cognizant of that because we wanted to make sure when legislators saw it, they weren't seeing a skewed poll."

Sayers says the trend is in stark contrast from the same poll they commissioned a year ago. Opposition has increased by 20 percent.

"We're seeing the more people learn about the open pit mine and the bill, the more people are opposed to the bill. To me, I feel like, they had a whole other year to improve the bill and sell it to the public and instead of gaining any ground, they actually lost ground."

The poll says 73 percent of Democrats oppose the bill, while 45 percent of Republicans favor it. About 69 percent of people who say they are independent oppose the bill.

The poll surveyed 911 Wisconsin voters Feb. 18-19 and has a 3 percent margin of error.

Today, the Wisconsin legislature's Joint Finance Committee debates and votes on the Republican mining bill. That debate will be carried live on Wisconsin Eye ( and Wisconsin Public Radio stations KUWS 91.3 FM in Superior and WUWS 90.9 FM in Ashland.