Controversial mining bill moving forward - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Controversial mining bill moving forward


Eau Claire (WQOW)- A controversial mining bill has cleared another hurdle. 

On Monday, the Joint Finance Committee approved the GOP's mining bill.

The bill would overhaul the state's mining regulations.  The legislation would help clear the way for a company to build an open-pit iron mine near Lake Superior.  Republicans say the bill would be an economic boost, creating hundreds of jobs.  Democrats have concerns about the impact on the environment.

"The present legislation for the first time will allow the re-routing of streams, the filling in of small lakes and it's not clear what that's going to do for this state," says Representative Dana Wachs.  "I think it is a dangerous proposal in many respects.  We are not against mining.  But we are against this particular form of mining.

"We have very strict environmental standards.  The air quality standards, the surface water quality standards, the safe drinking water standards, all of those are protected.  You cannot fill in lake beds.  You can't fill in lakes," counters Representative Scott Suder.  "Anyone that is saying this is being rushed through either hasn't paid attention or doesn't know the facts."

Last year, a similar bill failed in the State Senate, but Republicans hold more seats this time around.  The senate is expected to take up this bill on Wednesday.  The State Assembly is expected to follow next week.  Governor Walker has touted the bill as his signature job creation plan.

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