MADISON (WFRV)–Democrats and environmentalists are speaking out against the mine bill which passed through the State Assembly Thursday evening.
Yeses across the board from Republican leaders as Assembly members voted to pass the mining bill yesterday 58 to 39. But that decision is receiving a lot of back lash from Democrats and environmentalists.
Democrat Rep. Penny Bernard-Schaberof Appleton said, “Each time I feel like my suggestions and my recommendations have been ignored and that is worrisome because we’re supposed to be legislators what work for all of Wisconsin.”
The bill will make it easier for mining companies to open in Wisconsin. Specifically, Gogebic Taconite which wants to open an iron mine in Ashland and Iron Counties.
Republican Rep. John Klenke of Greenbay said, “There will be tremendous opportunities for jobs, hundreds of family supporting jobs with $70-$75,000 with benefits and thousands of other ancillary jobs, restaurants and hotels.”
While Republicans argue the mine will bring jobs to an area where unemployment is in the double digits, Democrats worry it would severely impact the environment.
Bernard-Schaber argues, “When you break up the waste rock and you put it somewhere else for storage it’s going to be exposed it has the opportunity to create sulfuric acid drainage.”
Bad River Band of Lake Superior Tribal members are also furious the bill passed.
The proposed mine would vastly affect their land which is home to over 7,000 members.
Bad River Band Tribe Chairman, Mike Wiggins Jr., said “We have nowhere to run, nowhere to relocate to if ground water contamination occurs or heavy metals and other toxicities come down our waterways.”
But Republicans assure they’ll ensure the mine is built within current laws.
“The environmental protections that are in current law will follow over to this bill. These things will continue on,” said Klenke.
Governor Walker is expected to sign the bill Monday.