(LADYSMITH, WI.)–Lawmakers will hold a public hearing on mining, Thursday in northern Wisconsin. A proposal to end Wisconsin’s so-called “mining moratorium” which requires companies provide proof that they have operated nonpolluting mines before they begin operating in the state gets a hearing at the Ladysmith High School Auditorium. Ladysmith is home to the Flambeau Mine, which operated between 1993 and 1997. Senator Tom Tiffany (R-Hazelhurst) and Representative Rob Hutton (R-Brookfield), the bill’s authors, argue that Wisconsin has comprehensive mining laws in place.
“We’re not bypassing any type of process, to allow any mining company to come into the state of Wisconsin, by doing anything other than following the permitting process,” Hutton said last month. “It will probably take up to four to five years before there is a shovel in the ground, and we’re simply saying let’s allow that process to begin.” The Republican lawmakers also argue that mining could bring much needed jobs to northern Wisconsin. The proposed legislation is viewed with alarm by an environmental group. “The reason we’re so concerned is that, according to the EPA, sulfide mining is the most toxic industry in America,” said Kerry Schuman, executive director of the League of Conservation Voters.