Practically Speaking

Kyle and her husband moved to Brookfield in 1986. She became active in local politics and started blogging in 2004. Her focus is primarily on local issues but often includes state and national topics, too. Kyle looks at things from the taxpayers' perspective in a creative, yet down to earth way, addressing them from a practical point of view.

Wisconsin Senate mining bill took wrong turn, now better

Environment, Economy, Legislation, WISCONSIN

Wisconsin's Assembly passed AB 426, a Iron Mining Bill, in January. It essentially was designed to speed up the expensive, long drawn out 3-year DNR approval process to a 360 day maximum permit deadline.

Wisconsin's Senate came up with their version earlier this week, however, theirs was far worse than the long, drawn out process we presently have. Among other bad stipulations, it added a new $2 per ton tax on top of the present 15% of net proceeds tax. Since the mine would produce from 8 to 16 million tons a year, that new stipulation would cost the mining company from $16 - $32 million dollars of additional expense. So that Senate version of the the good Assembly Bill 426 would be far worse than the unfavorable process we currently have in Wisconsin.

Thankfully, many Wisconsinites contacted their State Senators, urging them to support mining in Wisconsin and not vote for this terrible Senate version, with its unfriendly business taxes and regulations. So many people called and emailed that Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald disbanded the Senate mining committee, scrapped the Senate version, and sent the clean, better AB 426 Assembly version to the Joint Finance Committee, which will send it directly to the Senate floor.

So people, you made the difference. We are still not out of the woods though because the Assembly version can still be amended in the Senate. They can still add on the poison-pill provisions, but at least this way, those promoting those bad ideas will be known and each Senator will have to take a stand if they are for or against mining jobs in Wisconsin.

Just how unfavorable is Wisconsin for mining companies to do business here? Here is a little test:

What do Zimbabwe, The Congo (DRC), India, Bolivia, Honduras and Wisconsin have in common? They rank among the top 10 bottom scorers of 79 locations throughout the world--Antarctica excepted--friendly to the mining industry.

The Fraser Institute surveyed the opinions of mining executives, exploration managers and mining consultants from around the world and found Wisconsin scored the worst in Environmental Regulations and 2nd worst, only to Hugo Chavez' Venezuela, for "Uncertainty concerning the administration, interpretation, and enforcement of existing regulations". (Click link and scroll down to look at graphs)

How did this happen to Wisconsin? We're the Badger State. Badgers because they dig and burrow!

Wisconsin, with our flag depicting a miner standing to the right of the shield and sailor to the left, state products representing the state's major industries adorning the shield and badger on top: "In four sections surrounding the shield are representations of the states main industries: Agriculture, mining, manufacturing and navigation. The cornucopia and pile of lead represent farm products and minerals. (My emphasis)

Wisconsin needs jobs. Not just in Ashland County, where Gogebic Taconite or G Tac proposes this new iron mine, but in the surrounding area where peripheral businesses will hire to support the minors and their families. Lake Superior shipping will also benefit from this new mine, as will Joy Global and Caterpillar in the Milwaukee area.

AB 426 is just a bill to speed up the DNR approval process. The DNR would still need to study the issue and decree their yea or nay on the project. Unlike other mining, iron mining does not use cyanide or other polluting acids to remove the metals from the ores. Iron mining uses magnets to separate the ferrous material from the stone. Even environmentally conscious Minnesota and Michigan both have iron mines in their states.

At this point Wisconsin's State Senate does not have the votes to pass AB 426 and Republicans are being blamed for its failure to pass. But we do have 16 Democrat State Senators in Madison. Where are they on this bill?

Mining jobs are nearly always UNION jobs. For all the whining how Gov. Walker and Republicans are against Unions and Union workers, why are the Democrats allowed to vote against AB 426, which would help 600+ people* to obtain new Union jobs, not to mention the estimated 4,000 other jobs this mine would generate, without so much as a murmur?

Don't people living in Democrat Senate districts want good paying jobs too?

The Republicans, who make up a slim majority of one vote in the Senate, could vote this bill in. But Republican Dale Schultz of the 17th District, is being Dale Schultzie again; he is opposing this bill. There are probably some other Republicans who are wimpy on this bill too. Our area Senators, Leah Vukmir and Rich Zipperer are in favor of AB 426.

The only way we are going to improve the employment climate and increase state revenues here in Wisconsin is to approve projects such as this G Tac mine.

Contact your State Senator, even if they are Democrats! Let them know you support mining and bringing good jobs to Wisconsin. If the Senator is a Democrat, urge them to support these Union jobs.

Also, contact Democrat Robert Jauch of the 25th District, where the mine would be located. His district has a higher unemployment rate than the rest of the state. Ask him to help the people of his district get good paying Union jobs, that can't be outsourced, since the iron ore is here!

H/T Mark Belling show, *I changed this to 600, the most conservative estimate I have seen so far.

More reading:
Lift the Mining 'Ban' in Wisconsin Petition form
Mining for compromise: Bill favors GTac, promises new jobs

Wisconsin Governor Walker calls for passing mining bill


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