Column: Lawmakers advance responsible ore mining legislation
Given the Wisconsin Legislature's focus on economic development and encouraging job creation, our priorities continue to center on building upon last session's improvements in our business climate. One proposal that is part of our jobs agenda is legislation to update and modernize Wisconsin's laws relating to iron ore mining.
Working from legislation that was considered and debated by the Legislature last session, Senate Bill 1 proposes changes to the process for permitting iron ore mining. I am pleased that SB 1 includes improvements we made to the bill last session, as well as several amendments adopted this year based upon the input provided at public hearings held on this issue.
SB 1 establishes a multi-year permitting process that ensures the opportunity for public input to the Department of Natural Resource on the proposal. The bill also allows citizens to challenge an approved application through a contested case hearing in front of an administrative law judge.
SB 1 does not approve iron ore mining, but rather outlines the requirements and responsibilities of those submitting mining applications. The legislation also establishes the process to be followed by the Department of Natural Resources in reviewing and considering applications.
While much attention has been given to a proposed iron ore mine in northern Wisconsin, SB 1 does not approve the operation of any particular mine. Those seeking to establish a mine in northern Wisconsin would be required to complete the application process and earn approval by the DNR and federal agencies, including the Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency.
I voted for SB 1 as it was passed last month by the State Senate, due to my belief that this legislation establishes a responsible mining process that takes into account Wisconsin's strong environmental standards and heritage. SB 1 will enable us to join our neighboring states of Minnesota and Michigan in attracting jobs and investment as we position Wisconsin to take advantage of the global economy.
SB 1 heads to the State Assembly for consideration.
Sheila Harsdorf, R-River Falls, can be reached at 715-232-1390 or firstname.lastname@example.org.