Senate to Vote on Bills to Weaken Standards for Mining, Toughen Regulation on Wind Farms

, By Clean Wisconsin

MADISON — The Wisconsin State Senate is scheduled to vote on a bill today that would reduce the development of clean, renewable wind farms by making the suspension of the wind siting rule (PSC 128) permanent, on the same day it will vote on a bill to significantly cut environmental protections for mining.

“Senate leadership is rolling out the red carpet for environmentally destructive mining corporations while slamming a door in the face of clean, renewable wind energy companies,” said Amber Meyer Smith, government relations director at Clean Wisconsin. “Why weaken environmental protections for mining, an environmentally destructive industry, but toughen regulations on clean wind energy companies that want to build in Wisconsin?”  
Last year, the Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules (JCRAR) voted on party lines to suspend PSC 128, a set of rules created by the Public Service Commission to replace a chaotic patchwork of local ordinances for permitting wind farms with sensible, statewide standards. Citing regulatory uncertainty, a number of wind energy companies pulled the plug on several proposed projects slated to create hundreds of jobs following that suspension. Today, the senate is expected to vote on a bill that would make the suspension of the wind siting rule permanent.
 “It just doesn’t make sense,” said Smith. “Our legislative leaders are bending over backwards trying to eliminate commonsense environmental protections to give mining companies ‘certainty’ in the permit process, while voting on a bill proven to kill jobs by driving clean, renewable wind energy companies out of the state.”

The open-pit mining bill up for a vote would significantly roll back environmental protections for mining and create a timeline for the DNR to review iron-mining applications. Proponents of the bill have argued that the bill is necessary to create jobs.
“Unlike the mining bill which aims to create jobs at the expense of the environment, ending the suspension of the wind siting rule would create jobs and help protect the environment,” said Smith. “Permanently suspending the wind siting rule is a lose-lose that should be rejected by our senators.”