Tiffany, committee hear testimony on mining moratorium repeal; Walker noncommittal on supportSubmitted: 09/07/2017
Ben Meyer
Ben Meyer
Managing Editor / Senior Reporter

Tiffany, committee hear testimony on mining moratorium repeal; Walker noncommittal on support
WISCONSIN - In Wisconsin, miners last dug into deposits of copper, lead, and zinc 20 years ago.

That's when the open-pit Flambeau Mine in Ladysmith closed.

Nineteen years ago, the state put into place a partial mining moratorium, making opening that kind of mine much more difficult.

State Sen. Tom Tiffany (R-Hazelhurst) wants to pull back some of those mining restrictions. Tiffany hosted a public hearing of the Senate Sporting Heritage, Mining and Forestry Committee in Ladysmith on Thursday.

"Anyone, anyone who actually cares about our planet and our environment should be clamoring to have these materials mined here," testified Lucas Vebber of Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce.

"I do not want this bill to be passed, because it will greatly increase the chances of water pollution in many areas of our state," said Rusk County farmer Al Manson.

The hearing lasted hours, and featured several speakers on both sides of the issue.

"I really think that we have gone back and listened," Tiffany said. "Of course, that's why we're here today, to hear people's perspectives."

The bill would get rid of the current law on sulfide mining. The law requires companies interested in mining minerals called sulfides--most commonly, copper, lead, and zinc--to show examples of similar American or Canadian mines that have operated without causing surface or groundwater issues.

Gov. Scott Walker wouldn't say whether he supported a repeal of the mining moratorium. We spoke with him in Three Lakes on Thursday.

"If there's any state in the nation that should be able to do safe and environmentally sound mining, it should be the Badger State," Walker said. "We have a proud tradition when it comes to mining. It's a key part of why we're such a strong manufacturing state. It would do well to continue to improve the economy in northern Wisconsin. But we also need to make sure it's done in a way that's both safe and environmentally strong."

Tiffany's mining bill is still in its early stages. It wouldn't impact proposed iron ore mines, like the one in the Penokee Hills. A 2013 law already removed the moratorium from those mines.

Click the link below for the original, more in-depth, story on the proposal.

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Tiffany seeks repeal of state's mining moratorium law

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