Familiar Arguments Repeated at Hearing on Mining Moratorium Repeal

As expected, many environmental groups testified against lifting the mining moratorium at a public hearing before the Assembly Labor Committee Friday; countered by assurances from others testifying that  mining under the new legislation would still uphold environmental standards, and be done “safely and responsibly.”

The bill’s Senate author, Tom Tiffany, began the hearing reiterating that lifting the moratorium won’t compromise any environmental standards, and also discussed that mining could be beneficial in relation to Foxconn facility planned for Southeast Wisconsin:

“Silver can be used to maximize Foxconn, you have to have raw materials to do it…”

“…There are no changes in numeric environmental standards. Any company that seeks a permit here should live by those rules and achieve high standards. We don’t propose any change in environmental standards, and we don’t take away local control.”

 

Along with concerns around how lifting the bill could affect the environment, the topic of finding Uranium and how the new legislation would handle it was also a point of debate. While Rep. Ohnstad said that he was not convinced they would be able to do it safely without the “prove it first law,” Senator Tiffany responded:

“Any company will have to go through a rigorous process, if uranium is found, they will have to deal with it appropriately. If there are problems companies will have to rectify it immediately.”

 

How the new legislation would affect the Northeast Wisconsin tribes was also a major concern at the public hearing. The chairman off the Menominee Indian tribe Gary Besaw spoke of his concerns and of his opposition to the bill:

“We understand that mining brings jobs, but sulfuric mining has not proven to be safe. If you pass this bill you’re saying the people of northeast Wisconsin don’t matter. Let’s wait for technology to get better. Please don’t take a risk with our world.”

 

Representative Romaine Quinn responded to Besaw by pointing out that while groups won’t support lifting the moratorium and mining resources here, they seem okay getting the resources from other places. He questioned, “How is it okay for us to say we don’t want it here because we can’t prove it, but we are okay to get it in other places?”

Besaw was also questioned by by committee chairman, Rep. Bob Kulp, if there were any other mines that he could say he approved of,  to which Besaw responded, “not the sulfide, maybe other types of mining that technology allows. This type has not met that standard yet.”

Besaw joins other mining opponents in essentially conceding that there is no regulation they would approve of that would allow for sulfide mining.