As supporters of safe and sensible mining, we find serious flaws with AB1 / SB1 as it stands:
- The bill does nothing to guarantee that jobs will be created in Wisconsin.
- The bill opens the entire state to mining and plays favorites by placing the needs of the mining industry above every other economic sector.
- The bill forces our businesses to subsidize mining companies’ profits.
- The bill does nothing to mitigate the boom-and-bust cycle that Wisconsin has already experienced during the early days of the timber industry and earlier mining enterprises.
- The bill exposes taxpayers to costly lawsuits.
The following provisions should be incorporated into the bill:
Mining companies should prove they’ll create good jobs in Wisconsin.
The word “jobs” does not appear in the Legislative Council’s summary of the bill, and it appears only once in the bill itself. The current version of the bill has no way to guarantee that a single Wisconsin job will be created. Clearly, job creation and retention were not a top priority for this bill’s authors.
The bill should require mining companies’ permit applications to describe, in detail, how many jobs will be created at a particular mine, what the work will entail, and what the pay scale and working conditions will be.
The bill should balance the mining industry’s needs with those of other sectors.
While discussions surrounding this bill have been focused on an iron mine in the Penokee Hills, the bill actually opens up the entire state to mining activity with little oversight or regulation. Businesses statewide – particularly those businesses involved with agriculture, tourism, and outdoor recreation – rely on common-sense safeguards for our soil, air, and water. Deregulating the mining industry to the detriment of other industries is short-sighted and counter-productive.
Our businesses should not be forced to subsidize mining companies’ profits.
This bill does not require mining companies to protect or restore soil, air quality, groundwater, or surface water; it only requires companies to be “committed” to conducting mining activities in accordance with their permits. Talk is cheap, but cleanups are expensive. The bill allows mining companies to profit and then push cleanup costs onto taxpayers – including our businesses. The bill should be modified to hold mining companies, rather than taxpayers, accountable for all cleanup costs.
Mining should be the first step in a long-term economic development program.
Wisconsin has already endured the boom-and-bust cycle of the timber industry and earlier mining enterprises, and a responsible mining bill will prevent that cycle from repeating itself. The bill should be modified to require mining companies to work with local and state governments to improve affected communities’ long-term economic resilience through such measures as investing in area schools, expanding internet access and other local infrastructure, and offering job retraining to mine workers as the mine nears closure.
The bill should align with federal and tribal law.
Our state has enough financial troubles; we don’t need to pile on costly court expenses. It’s a waste of time and taxpayer money to pass a bill that’s out of synch with federal timelines and out of compliance with tribal law. The bill should take federal timetables into account to allow for money-saving data sharing and coordination between state and federal officials.
With appropriate safeguards, mining can play a part in Wisconsin’s economic recovery.
Take a few minutes right now to contact your State Senator and Assembly Representative (find their names and contact info here) and let them know what you think!
Please explore this site to learn more about the newly formed Wisconsin Business Alliance. You can join us here.