MADISON (WSAU) Majority Republicans say they’ll hold only one public hearing on their bill to encourage new mining in Wisconsin – and that hearing is set for Wednesday in Madison. Folks in Ashland and Iron counties wanted legislators to come to the place where Republicans are trying to encourage Gogebic Taconite to revive its plans to build an iron ore mine in Ashland and Iron counties.
Attorney Kimberlee Wright of the Bad River Indians said lawmakers are not representing democracy by making those who are most affected drive for hours to southern Wisconsin. Others accused Republicans of trying to bury the word about the hearing by announcing it on a Friday afternoon – when people with a three-day holiday weekend had other things on their minds.
Senate Mining Committee chair Tom Tiffany says lawmakers have been meeting with affected people for months – a hearing was held in the north on a similar package a year ago – and lawmakers have set aside 12 hours on Wednesday, so everyone should have a good opportunity to testify. Republicans say the mine would provide much-needed jobs to the region. Democrats say it would hurt the environment, while giving people less of a chance to oppose the D-N-R’s decisions.
The Bad River tribe is downstream from the Gogebic site – and tribal members fear it would hurt their groundwater, wetlands, and wild rice beds.