Passage of failed mining bill likely to lead to lawsuits - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Passage of failed mining bill likely to lead to lawsuits

MADISON (WKOW) -- Republicans are acting more and more confident that they will pass the same mining bill that failed in the last legislative session.

The lame-duck Senate Select Committee on Mining met to discuss developing an alternate mining bill today, but one committee member said they are likely just spinning their wheels.

"We had AB 426 last time, I supported that bill and I am still a fan of that bill," said Sen. Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin).

Sen. Lazich didn't have much else to say to her fellow Senators, who have spent the last four months seeking input on a new mining bill.

And she is very honest on how she feels about that work going forward.

"Its a time-filler. It fills some time, it keeps the issue alive, but that's about all it does," said Sen. Lazich.

"I don't think we're gonna convince Mary Lazich," said Sen. Bob Jauch (D-Poplar), who strongly opposes Assembly Bill 426.  "There are many legislators who unfortunately just follow the WMC, who are just taking the point of view that Wisconsin public law should represent the best interests of an out-of-state mining company."

That company, Gogebic Taconite, has been working with Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce to push the failed AB 426 through next session, so they can begin work on an iron-ore mine in Ashland County.

"I can't imagine that citizens wouldn't fight back if somebody tried to permit a mine with AB 426," said Kim Wright, the Executive Director of Midwest Environmental Advocates.

MEA helps private citizens file environmental lawsuits.

Wright says litigation is almost inevitable if AB 426 becomes law.

"There's many issues.  Groundwater protection, air problems, you know, just about any part of the environment is impacted by this law," said Wright.

"426 would do nothing to promote mining, it will do more to promote litigation.  And that's not in the interest of getting this issue resolved," said Sen. Jauch.

But Sen. Lazich says that shouldn't stop AB 426 from going through in January.

"People are always filing lawsuits.  Whether they have merit or not, that remains to be seen," said Sen. Lazich.

Sen. Bob Jauch represents the area where the proposed mine would go, and admits Republicans have the votes to do whatever they want in the Senate.

He hopes to build public pressure between now and January in order to stop them.
 

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