Gov. Scott Walker signed a controversial iron ore mining bill which streamlines the permit process into law Monday, more than a year after the legislation was first introduced.
The bill, supported solely by Republican legislators, will allow Gogebic Taconite LLC to create the largest open-pit iron ore mining operation in the world, according to a statement from the Wisconsin John Muir Chapter of the Sierra Club.
Walker said in a statement he was grateful to legislators statewide for moving forward a bill that will be deadline-oriented and environmentally friendly. He signed the legislation into law in Rhinelander and later in Milwaukee.
“Wisconsin’s seal and the state flag both depict mining in our great state,” Walker said. “In light of our mining tradition, I’m thrilled to sign legislation into law protecting environmental safeguards, while providing certainty to the mine permitting process.”
The governor added he is optimistic his endorsement of the bill will create thousands of private sector jobs in the future.
However, Sen. Bob Jauch, D-Poplar, criticized Walker in a statement for signing the bill at Oldenburg Group Company and P&H Mining Engineering manufacturing plants because both locations are more than 100 miles away from the proposed mining site.
Jauch said it is “quite puzzling, but not surprising” Walker chose to celebrate the bill’s approval miles away from where citizens will be most affected.
“One would think if the Governor were so proud of the bill, he would choose to sign it in Hurley or Mellen, two communities most economically impacted by the project,” he said. “Apparently, he thinks it is good politics to talk about the mining bill everywhere except in the location where the mine project would occur.”
Hurley Area Chamber of Commerce Chair and Wisconsin Mining Association member Bill Stutz’ perspective differed. He said the legislation is nearly universally supported in Hurley, where the mine could be built.
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