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WI Conservationist: Mining Legislation is Flawed

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Wednesday, May 25, 2011   

MADISON, Wis. - Legislation in response to a proposed mine in Iron County is moving forward quickly, although conservationists say the proposal has serious flaws.

The open-pit mine would be located in a region of the state known for excellent trout streams, parks and national forests. Jennifer Giegerich, Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters legislative director, says the bill, LRB 2035, removes too many hard-won protections of the state's other natural resources.

"Legislators are totally rewriting Wisconsin's mining laws for one out-of-state mining company that's never developed an iron mine. One of the things they're doing is eliminating many of the public-health and natural-resource protections that we have valued here in Wisconsin."

The legislation would allow the iron mining company to use as much water as it wants, without gauging the impact on nearby water bodies and wells. It also allows dumping mining waste on private lands and eliminates the input of Local Impact Committees. Giegerich says it isn't a question of whether there should be mining in Wisconsin.

"The question is whether or not we're going to permit new iron mines, and make sure that they meet the same basic public health and environmental laws that other industries in our state have to meet. Under this legislation, it's clear the public would not be protected."

Supporters of the legislation say it will help create jobs and economic benefits for Wisconsin, but opponents say it would come with too high a price, in terms of risks to the environment and public health. Giegerich adds that this kind of one-company-only legislation sets a bad precedent.

"This proposed legislation would, for the first time, create new laws excepting a single industry from having to meet basic public-health and environmental laws that other industries operating in our state have to meet. There's no need for this legislation, and it's really appalling that we are putting the public's interest in jeopardy for the interests of a single company."

Text of LRB 2035 is online at
thewheelerreport.com.



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