Tue January 1, 2013
Walker Says He's Open To Democratic Ideas On Mining Bill
Governor Scott Walker says he's open to incorporating some of the ideas from a Democratic-controlled mining committee into a bill the legislature considers this year.
A mining panel chaired by Janesville Democratic Senator Tim Cullen met for hours on end in 2012, hearing testimony from geologists, environmentalists and mining industry representative including Walker administration consultant Tim Sullivan. At the end, Senator Cullen unveiled a plan that would set a two-year permitting process for mines with a chance for pauses in between.
Governor Walker says when the legislature reconvenes, it should still start with a Republican bill that already passed the powerful Joint Finance Committee last session. But from there, Walker says he's open to changes.
"I'm not saying that should be the final version," Walker says. "I think what they could do is take some of the things that Senator Cullen's committee looked at. Take some of the things that Tim Sullivan has talked about and the mining association and others have talked about and maybe incorporate that into amendments or adjustments to the bill."
Walker says the ultimate goal is still to get a company to build a mine in an iron range in Ashland and Iron Counties.
"It ultimately has to meet the final objective, which is to lead to a mine," he says. "Because just calling a bill a mining bill if it doesn't lead to the thousands of jobs that would come from a mine really is kind of a waste of time for everybody."
One big difference between the Republican bill from last session and Senator Cullen's is that Cullen's leaves environmental protections largely untouched while the GOP version relaxed several environmental laws within a mining site. Neither version has the endorsement of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, who worry a miles long pit in the Penokee Hills will damage their watershed and their culture.