Gov. Walker signs mining bill - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Gov. Walker signs mining bill

The governor has signed the contentious mining bill into law, but the fight is far from over.

Governor Scott walker signed the bill this afternoon in Rhinelander. He says this will help create thousands of jobs.

The signing took place at the Oldenburg group in Rhinelander. That's a company that makes mining equipment.

The governor talked about what the mines will do for the economy. But those against the mine say they're not satisfied.

"What they're going to do is ruin the water up in the Penokee Hills water shed in the ceded territories Bad River Indian Tribe," Roberta Retrum of Eagle River said.

"Some people just don't want any mine under any circumstance. We've streamlined the process so we could be safe and environmentally sound mining in Wisconsin," Walker said.

Now that Governor Walker has signed the bill, what's next? The future will probably include a battle in court.

The signing of the mining bill into law is more than two years in the making, and comes with plenty of critics. But in the end, Governor Scott Walker says it's the right move.

"We're going to do this in a way that's both economically and environmentally sound," Walker said.

The bill essentially loosens regulations for mining companies. It was designed to attract a Florida company that wants to dig an iron-ore mine, south of Lake Superior. Walker says that mine will bring thousands of jobs.

"Once we get going, it sends not only a powerful message about the jobs related to this site, it sends a powerful message to anyone else around the country and around the globe that Wisconsin is indeed open for business," Walker said.

But the proposed mining area is also home to the Bad River Band Chippewa Tribe.

"This is our ancestral homeland as tribal people," Bad River Band Chippewa Tribe Chairman Mike Wiggins Jr. said.

Tribal leaders say they'll fight this mine in court.  Governor Walker responded to the possibility of a lawsuit.

"I think the courts will uphold it, but ultimately, the way it's set up, it allows the state DNR to work with the U.S. government in terms of the EPA. It allows us to do so in a timely basis, where we can protect both our environmental and our economic interests without one offsetting the other," Walker said.

But democratic State Representative Mandy Wright thinks this law will end up costing the state.

"There will be a lot of people fighting this in the courts and that's very expensive for taxpayers," Wright said.

As for the proposed mine, Governor Walker wouldn't give an exact timeline about it. But now that the bill is law, he says the permit process can begin.

Tribal leaders said they plan to start raising money for a lawsuit. But again, Governor Walker says he's confident the law will hold up in court.

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