Bill sets timelines for permitting process without rolling back environmental standards

MADISON  — Senators Bob Jauch (D-Poplar) and Dale Schultz (R-Richland Center) released a new bipartisan mining bill yesterday that would set timelines for permitting mines without rolling back environmental standards.

“This bill helps bring certainty to the mine permit process by establishing timelines without rolling back commonsense environmental protections and eliminating accountability for mining companies,” said Amber Meyer Smith, government relations director at Clean Wisconsin. “Although we oppose changing current law, we applaud Senators Schultz and Jauch for reaching across party lines and trying to balance the interests of developing a mine with the need to protect Wisconsin’s residents and the environment.”  
 
The 13-page Wisconsin Way Mining Reform Act unveiled yesterday starkly contrasts the 186-page mining bill passed by Assembly Republicans in December. That bill includes significant environmental rollbacks, would reduce opportunities for public input by removing contested case hearings from the permitting process, and eliminate accountability for mining companies by prohibiting citizen lawsuits.
 
“The Assembly Mining Bill was written by the mining company, for the mining company, and at the expense of the health and safety of Wisconsin residents,” said Smith. “The Wisconsin Way Mining Reform Act sets a clear timeline for the mine permit process while leaving protections for Wisconsin’s residents and environment in place.”  

The new mining bill comes after a surprise move by Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald last week to dissolve the Senate Select Committee on Mining and announce he would move forward with the Assembly Mining Bill. At legislative hearings held in West Allis, Hurley and Madison over the last few months, opponents of the Assembly Mining Bill significantly outnumbered supporters. Even many supporters of the mine testified that they could not support such a far-reaching bill at these hearings.

“Over the last few months, Wisconsin residents have made one thing clear: They oppose the Assembly Mining Bill as well as any bill that rolls back environmental and health standards,” said Smith.