After every Democrat and one Republican in the Wisconsin Senate voted to kill a regulatory reform bill that would have brought thousands of desperately needed mining jobs to the state, outraged conservative activists and unemployed citizens vowed to turn the heat up. Not only do they plan to keep pushing the legislation, they are targeting two key legislators who opposed the measure for recall elections.
The bill would have reformed Wisconsin’s complex and outdated mine permitting system, simplifying the process while retaining strict environmental controls. If it had passed, Florida-based Gogebic Taconite was planning to open an iron-ore mine in the economically depressed northern region of Wisconsin. But when the measure failed, the company pulled out.
"Senate rejection of the mining reforms in Assembly Bill 426 sends a clear message that Wisconsin will not welcome iron mining. We get the message,” the company said in a statement. “GTac is ending plans to invest in a Wisconsin mine. We thank the many people who have supported our efforts."
According to analysts, the mine would have brought with it well over 500 jobs and eventually more than 2,000 — not including other jobs in manufacturing and services from Milwaukee in the southeast to small towns in the region in the north. The investment would have injected at least $1.5 billion into the local economy, too.
Some environmentalists complained that the mine would have caused pollution, which the company, mine supporters, and analysts denied. Multiple government agencies would have been involved in ensuring that the operation was environmentally friendly. But environmentalism was used as a rallying cry by opponents of the venture nonetheless.
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GOP state Sen. Dale Schultz (pictured)