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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

State senators introduce bipartisan amendment to mining legislation

Two senators announced a bipartisan amendment Tuesday to the Assembly bill that would ease mining restrictions and streamline the development of a contentious iron mine proposal.

Assembly Bill 426 is meant to pave the way for Gogebic Tacobite's proposed $1.5 billion open pit mine in northern Wisconsin.

The legislation has been held up due to concerns over the costs taxpayers could shoulder and the project's potential impact on the surrounding environment.

Sens. Dale Schultz, R-Richland Center, and Bob Jauch, D-Poplar, released an amendment to the mining bill they say "strikes the balance between job creation and environmental regulations."

The proposal would reinvest all mining revenue into the area around the mine, either in payments to reimburse taxpayers or investments in local infrastructure.

Additionally, $5 million would be required from mining companies up front in the place of property taxes. The sum would be paid to the community over the first five years of operation.

The amendment also establishes deadlines for when the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources must publically present environmental impact statements and act on mining permit applications—which would not be accepted without holding the environmental impact meetings.

"In this legislation, I believe the voice of the Northwoods-indeed, all of Wisconsin-was heard loud and clear," Jauch said in a statement.

Assembly Republicans responded Tuesday, saying that the proposed amendment would meet opposition in their chamber.

"Tax increases and legal red tape that will deny Wisconsin thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in revenue are non-starters in this house," Reps. Jeff Fitzgerald, R-Horicon, Scott Suder, R-Abbotsford, and Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said in a statement.

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