State Senator Tom Tiffany of Hazelhurst chaired an hours-long public hearing in Ladysmith Thursday on a bill that would eliminate Wisconsin's nearly two-decades long Mining Moratorium law.
The current law requires that before the state can issue a permit for mining of sulfide ore bodies, companies must first provide an example of where a metallic sulfide mine in the U.S. or Canada has not polluted surface or groundwater during or after mining.
Tiffany has been promoting the closed Ladysmith mine as an example of a mine that has been successfully reclaimed. He has introduced the "Mining For America" act which repeals the law that he feels would bring in economic development for northern Wisconsin..
"....it is a great opportunity for us to create good, family sustaining jobs and do it with a terrific asset that we have the no other part of the state of Wisconsin has and quite candidly, there are very few areas that have the endowment that we have in northern Wisconsin...."
Several speakers spoke in favor of mining, including Ladysmith Administrator Al Christianson, who said the mine, in his view, hasn't polluted the Flambeau River, and didn't produce a 'boom and bust' economic cycle.
But one of the state's leading voices against sulphide mining in Wisconsin, Al Gedicks, Executive Secretary of Wisconsin Resources Protection Council said the Mining For America bill is a misrepresentation of the facts and science concerning sulphide mining...
".....there is, however, one factor we both can agree with. Wisconsin's "Prove It First" moratorium is not a moratorium at all, but conditions that must be met before permits are granted. In the 20 years since the passage of the Mining Moratorium Law, the mining industry still cannot demonstrate that sulphide mining can't be done without polluting the environment, so they want to abolish the law...."
Gedicks and Tiffany had a heated exchange leading up to this...
(Tiffany)"...."do you believe mining can be done in any conditions safely?(Gedicks)"not sulphide mining, there are other types of mining and there are theoretical possibilities where this is very little water..."(Tiffany) maybe there could be mining where there is virtually no water..?(Gedicks) "yes"...."
Audio courtesy Wisconsin Eye. A link to their website is here.