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U.S. Corps of Engineers: Mining bill might slow down permitting process

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MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - The federal government warns that Wisconsin Republicans might be slowing down the approval process for new mining, instead of speeding it up.

But the head of the state Senate’s Mining Committee doesn’t buy it.

Tamara Cameron of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says the GOP’s relaxing of state environmental rules appears to stray from federal requirements for the same projects.

It could be that both the state and the Corps might end up doing their own reviews for a mining proposal – instead of the state and federal governments working together.

State Senate mining chair Tom Tiffany says he believes the state’s timelines for new mining projects correspond to federal rules – and he says both can still work together.

Tiffany also says the new bill requires mining developers to work with both state-and-federal officials, thus reducing possible hold-ups.

Cameron’s concerns were in a letter dated last Monday – two days before the GOP rolled out a new mining package similar to the one the state Senate defeated by one vote last March.

Senate Democrat Tim Cullen of Janesville, who opposes the Republican package, released Cameron’s letter.

Cullen plans to introduce an alternative package Tuesday which preserves environmental protections and does not reduce the public’s ability to challenge mining projects.

Cameron said the differences between the state and federal rules would include a mine’s impact on wetlands – and the amount of information a mining firm would have to give to regulators.

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