Economy and Business
Wed June 27, 2012
Mining industry to study laws in neighboring states
The Wisconsin Mining Association has hired a consultant to evaluate mining laws in the neighboring states of Minnesota and Michigan. The industry group hopes the report will restart negotiations on mining legislation.
The report should be finished just before the November elections, but any meeting to discuss its contents will likely wait until January, when it will be clear which party has control over passing any new mining laws. The director of the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, George Meyer, says he's hopeful the discussion will lead to changes that a new legislature might agree to pursue: “If, in fact, after good faith discussions, representatives of the mining industry and representatives of the environmental and conservation communities can come up with a series of improvements to the law that both sides can agree to... [that] I believe will have significant weight.”
But the Republican Senator who blocked the effort to reform state mining laws last session is skeptical. Sen. Dale Schultz of Richland Center says mining is a global industry, and any effort to change state law should include a look at how countries like Finland and Sweden regulate the industry. Schultz is also convinced any effort to change state mining laws that ignore the role of Wisconsin's Indian tribes is doomed to failure: “They are important partners in protecting our water and air resources in the state and the sooner we recognize that and make them partners I think the better it is for everyone.”
Schultz says any discussion of new mining laws should be open and transparent and the tribes whose land may be impacted by new mines along with the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission should be invited to take part.