Wisconsin lawmakers introduce bill to relax mining rules
Aug. 18, 2017
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Two Wisconsin lawmakers have introduced legislation to repeal a law that requires mining companies to prove they've operated without polluting before they can mine in the state.
Republican Sen. Tom Tiffany of Hazelhurst and Republican Rep. Rob Hutton of Brookfield introduced the bill Thursday, the Wisconsin State Journal reported .
"People want to make things in America again," Tiffany said. "Our neighbors, Minnesota and Michigan, have placed their shovels in the dirt of America's future. It is Wisconsin's turn to do the same."
The 1998 law they want to repeal requires companies have 10 years of mining without creating acid pollution and another decade of no pollution after the mine closes.
The law aims to protect the state's waters from sulfide material that is often unearthed by metallic mining. Sulfide can combine with air and water to create an acid that can destroy aquatic life and pollute water.
Tiffany said the Flambeau copper mine near Ladysmith operated safely and is an example of why the restriction isn't needed. The mine operated for four years before closing in 1997.
A federal judge ruled in 2012 that the mine released a minimal amount of copper into the state's waters, but an appellate court reversed that ruling in 2013.
The Sierra Club and the Wisconsin Resources Protection Council have recommended rejecting the bill. Officials with the environmental organizations said that about 50 other state, regional and national groups oppose the repeal of the 1998 law.
Tiffany was also behind a bill that passed in 2013 and relaxed the state's iron mining regulations.
Information from: Wisconsin State Journal, http://www.madison.com/wsj