Legislative records released Tuesday by a liberal group show the mining company promising to build a mine in northern Wisconsin had input on the controversial mining bill currently moving through the legislature.
The company, Gogebic Taconite, showed interest in opening a mine in northern Wisconsin when a bill was proposed last session. Last session’s bill failed because of environmental concerns, but not before it was revealed the company had a hand in writing the bill.
After the new mining bill was announced Jan. 16, GTAC again said it was interested.
The new bill is designed to streamline the permitting process for mining companies in the state by setting a 420-day time limit for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to review permit applications. The bill would also give the DNR power to exempt mining companies from certain environmental regulations governing wetlands and waterways.
The new discovery of GTAC’s specific requests on the bill’s proposals, taken from emails exchanged between legislative staff, shows the company’s requests were made in the areas of the bill Democrats have challenged most heavily, including portions pertaining to wetlands, navigable waters and groundwater.
Democratic opponents of the bill have challenged those portions, claiming they stand to eliminate important environmental protections currently in effect.
The extent to which GTAC helped in forming the new bill remains unclear. Some people criticize bills that use company input, while others maintain a company with experience in a specific area can help pass a better bill, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
A representative at GTAC did not return a call requesting comment.