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Action Alert: Wisconsin needs responsible mining NOW

March 05, 2012 J

The Wisconsin State Senate is expected to vote this week on legislation that will set the stage for a multi-billion dollar iron ore mine in northern Wisconsin.

According to an economic impact study from NorthStar Economics, once permitted the mine is projected to create over 3,000 jobs paying an average wage of $80,000 (including benefits) in the construction phase of the mining project. Once the mine is operational, to run at peak capacity more than 5,000 workers will be hired.

Last month, the State Assembly passed a responsible mining bill, Assembly Bill 426 that relies on the free market principles of fair regulation and taxation to clear the way for the creation of an iron ore mine in Iron and Ashland Counties.

In the Senate, the bill has gone through a series of snags and snafus starting when all 16 Democratic Senators refused to vote for the Assembly bill for a litany of specious reasons, none of which has to do with the ongoing recalls (sarcasm added).

After joining the Democrats in opposition, Republican State Senator Dale Schultz introduced his own version of the mining bill. According to estimates, Schultz’s version increased taxes on the private mining company by $172 million annually and set up a series of regulatory hurdles that would make it nearly impossible for the development to proceed.   

At an estimated $1.5 billion, this mining project represents one of the largest private development projects ever undertaken in Wisconsin.  With thousands of high paying jobs and a lasting economic impact that would be felt throughout the entire state from mining equipment companies Milwaukee to metal based manufacturers, we must do all we can as supporters of the mine have said, “stop the whining and start mining” here in Wisconsin.

Americans for Prosperity fully supports the responsible mining bill, Assembly bill 426 and Senate bill 488, that passed the State Assembly and now need to pass the State Senate before Governor Walker can sign it into law.
Wisconsin needs responsible mining NOW.   For well over a year, our legislators in Madison have been debating the merits of removing barriers in current law that have essentially shut down our once robust mining industry. With thousands of high paying jobs for generations of Wisconsinites on the line, the time to act is now. We simply can’t wait any longer.
Please contact your State Senators today and ask them to support Assembly Bill 426 and Senate Bill 488 which would:
1. Reignite Wisconsin’s mining economy, create thousands of jobs for generations, and protect the environment. Wisconsin has a steeped tradition in mining. In fact, miners came here to pursue our rich natural resources even before farmers did – what is now America’s Dairyland was first home to the Badgers, a name given to settlers who burrowed in underground mines.

Unfortunately, due to overzealous regulations pushed by extreme factions of the environmental movement during the 1980’s, Wisconsin’s once robust mining industry is nearly non-existent today.  Once the mining projects ceased Wisconsin lost thousands of good-paying jobs and the economic activity that accompanied in small towns all across Wisconsin.

To jump start Wisconsin’s mining industry and create thousands of family supporting jobs, Assembly bill 426 and Senate bill 488, will roll back these anti-free market regulations to allow for the development of a private iron ore mine in Ashland and Iron Counties.  While these bills do not guarantee a permit for the new mine, they simply establish a permitting process that is both fair and timely, while also protecting the environment in and around the project. 

In summary, the mining bill will modernize state regulations to allow the private sector mining industry to create thousands of family-supporting jobs for generations of Wisconsin workers.  The base pay for these mining jobs alone is expected to exceed $80,000 (including benefits) per mining worker.
AFP-Wisconsin fully supports Assembly Bill 426 and Senate Bill 488 and we hope you will ask your lawmaker to do so as well.

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