New mining bill raises same concerns
Mining bills working their way through the Wisconsin Legislature look eerily similar to Assembly Bill 426, which concerned environmentalists and was narrowly voted down last year, writes Mike McFadzen in his Pro-Resource Alert enewsletter. The previous bill was written with considerable input from Gogebic Taconite, which has proposed an open-pit mine straddling Ashland and Iron counties in northern Wisconsin, 4.5-mile long, 1.5-miles wide and 1,000 feet deep.
The latest legislation has Mike Wiggins Jr., chairman of the Bad River Band of Chippewa, worried. "Senate Bill 1 was obviously written by and for an out-of-state mining company and will be rushed through the legislative process without formal meetings with tribal leaders and adequate public hearings."
Other critics note that the legislation remove removes wetland protections, allowing the filling in of
lake beds and streams, and eliminates the public's ability to challenge information presented by the mining company and undermines the Department of Natural Resources' ability to enforce environmental laws concerning mining operations.
The bill that narrowly passed the state Senate on a nearly party-line vote February 26 "differs somewhat from last year's bill and does not roll back as many environmental protections, but opponents nonetheless contend the bill goes too far," the Wisconsin State Journal reported.
The Republican-controlled state Assembly is expected to pass the bill by a wide margin.
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