UPDATE: Failed mining bill likely coming back in January - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

UPDATE: Failed mining bill likely coming back in January


MADISON (WKOW) -- The mining bill Governor Scott Walker (R-Wisconsin) wants to see passed next January will need some improvements first.

That's what Wisconsin Mining Association Chair Tim Sullivan told the Senate Select Committee on Mining Thursday afternoon.

But Sullivan also made one other thing very clear.

"Wisconsin's mining laws need to be changed now," said Sullivan.

Sullivan testified that the laws are simply outdated to the industry's current technologies and that they're also too ambiguous.

"There is no mandate for the state to complete the environmental review in a timely manner.  In fact, the environmental review process is entirely open-ended and prone to delays in decision making," said Sullivan.

But when it comes to Assembly Bill 426, which failed in March, Sullivan recommends proceeding with caution.

"That bill can be improved," said Sullivan.  "That bill in its current form needs improvement."

"I think there's still probably some more minor changes that can be made, but we just don't see a good reason to delay at this point," countered Scott Manley, the Director of Environmental Policy for Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, a group committed to seeing AB 426 passed.

And the political reality is that Republicans won't necessarily need the blessing of the WMA to go forward with AB 426.

"I don't think there's any point in taking up a bill unless the people who want to mine in Ashland and Iron counties say, "'we like this bill,'" Sen. Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend) told Sullivan.

Gogebic Taconite is the company that wanted AB 426 to pass so they could begin work on an iron ore mine in those counties.  But, they rejected a compromise bipartisan bill put forth by Sen. Dale Schultz (R-Richland Center) and Sen. Bob Jauch (D-Poplar).

Sullivan is optimistic his agency could help work out a bill that would make everyone happy.

"If engaged, and we hope we'll be engaged, we'll give it a try," said Sullivan.

"I think at the end though, what we need to have is a process that is clear, well-defined, has a timeline that allows investors like Gogebic Taconite that wants to be here, gives them the assurance they need," said Manley.

In March, AB 426 failed to pass the Senate by just one vote due to environmental concerns.

But with a three vote Senate majority starting next year, Republicans seem confident that will not happen again.


MADISON (WKOW) -- One day after Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wisconsin) urged state legislators to approve a new mining bill in 2013, the bi-partisan Senate Select Committee on Mining met to hear testimony from the head of the Wisconsin Mining Association.

WMA Chairman Tim Sullivan is expected to speak to the committee this afternoon.

On Wednesday, Gov. Walker emphasized his hope that a new mining bill could get done soon to lure Gogebic Taconite back to establish an iron ore mine in northern Wisconsin, near Mellen.

A mining bill that would have streamlined the permitting process for G-Tac died in the State Senate in March over environmental concerns.

Capitol Bureau Chief Greg Neumann is at today's hearing and will have the latest on 27 News at 5 and 6.


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