STAR JOURNAL REPORT
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker made a stop Monday at the Rhinelander/Oneida County Airport to sign the “Mining for America” bill into law.
Walker said the legislation eliminates a mining moratorium on the issuance of permits for sulfide ore mining without changing environmental standards in the state.
“Mining is a vital piece of Wisconsin’s history and is at the core of our cultural identity,” Walker said. “With this new bill, we’re paying tribute to our state’s rich roots in the field and creating new family-supporting careers in the mining industry, all while protecting our abundant and valuable natural resources.”
Walker was joined at the signing ceremony by a number of legislators who supported the bill, including the measure’s authors, Sen. Tom Tiffany of Hazelhurst and Rep. Rob Hutton of Brookfield, both Republicans.
“Our state has a rich mining history that predates our statehood, yet for the last 20 years the miner on our flag has been stuck in the unemployment line,” Tiffany said. “(Monday), Governor Walker put him back to work. With the signing of the Mining for America Act into law, a multi-billion industry has been invited to come back to northern Wisconsin.
“For decades, we have seen young people and their families leave northern Wisconsin for opportunities elsewhere. I believe that the mining industry will turn this trend around.”
Young people with an interest in mining also attended the signing ceremony. Walker also referred to the legislation as “Keep Kids in Wisconsin” act.
In the six-month period of following enactment of the “Mining for America” legislation, also known as 2017 Wisconsin Act 134, counties will be able to adopt zoning regulations related to the law.
The legislation passed both houses largely along party lines with the majority support coming from Republicans and Democrats voting in opposition, with the latter claiming the law would jeopardize clean water and clean air in the state. The measure was approved 53-38 in the Assembly and 19-14 in the Senate.