MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - Assembly Republicans have agreed to hold a public hearing in northern Wisconsin on a bill to speed up the state’s approval of mines like the one planned for Ashland and Iron counties.
Jobs Committee chairwoman Mary Williams has called a hearing for a week from Wednesday at a hotel in Hurley.
She and other Republicans were heavily criticized a few weeks ago for holding a hearing near Milwaukee, about 300 miles from where Gogebic Taconite wants to open a $1.5 billion iron ore mine.
Williams aide Charlie Bellin said the lawmaker heard enough complaints about the West Allis location that she thought a northern hearing would be justified.
The bill is designed to speed up the process of granting state permits for iron ore mines.
Among other things, it calls for fewer environmental restrictions, and a ban on contested-case hearings in which opponents can delay a mining project by challenging the DNR’s actions on it.