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Bipartisan committee to revise mining rules

A bipartisan legislative committee will be announced soon to figure out how to streamline Wisconsin's iron ore permitting process. Gogebic Taconite is proposing a $1.5 billion iron ore mine four miles long on the Ashland and Iron County line, but...

A bipartisan legislative committee will be announced soon to figure out how to streamline Wisconsin's iron ore permitting process.

Gogebic Taconite is proposing a $1.5 billion iron ore mine four miles long on the Ashland and Iron County line, but put those plans on hold until the state passes new mining legislation.

This committee is expected to be called soon by Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald.

Democratic State Sen. Bob Jauch, D-Poplar, represents the mining area. He expects to be on the committee, which he says will have a one vote Republican majority.

"But that isn't as important as making sure that those of us who are appointed are willing to commit ourselves to a transparent process so that the discussion is being held in the public view, not behind closed doors," Jauch said.

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A draft mining bill never saw the light of day last spring after a firestorm of protest that it wouldn't protect the environment.

"I don't know of any legislator who wanted to be associated with the draft (bill). It contained lots of things not to like. So therefore, I would hope that the committee would use this transparent process, public dialogue with public hearings."

Clean Water Wisconsin Program Director Amber Meyer-Smith says she's encouraged that a bipartisan committee would be formed. She's not encouraged about talk that this bill would be passed in the fall session.

"Trying to get something through by the end of the fall session would be nearly impossible unless you're not interested in having full public input," she said.

A representative from Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, which supported last spring's draft mining bill ... won't comment until the committee is appointed.

Related Topics: ASHLAND COUNTY
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