MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - Wisconsin would have two years to either approve or deny a mining permit, under a revised package announced Thursday by the Democratic chairman of a special Senate mining committee.
Tim Cullen of Janesville used a six-month window of Democratic control to have senators examine the state’s mining approval process, after a Republican package was shot down in March.
The two-year review period is longer than the one-year limit in the last proposal – and unlike the GOP plan, the public would not lose its right to challenge the state’s decisions in a contested-case hearing.
Also, the Cullen bill calls for collaboration with federal regulators who also have a say in mining activities. And the state’s Indian tribes would also have a chance for early input on mining proposals like the one that was scrapped in far northern Wisconsin this past spring.
Cullen’s panel drafted its alternative package just weeks before the GOP is due to regain the majority in the Senate.
The Republicans will have the power to pass something similar to what was proposed a year ago – and Governor Scott Walker has said that if the GOP measure passes, there’s a chance that Gogebic Taconite would return and push again for its proposed iron ore mine in Ashland and Iron counties.