The Senate this evening signed off on the GOP sulfide mining bill, sending it to Gov. Scott Walker’s desk.
The bill passed on a 19-14 vote, containing a key amendment the Assembly OK’d last week that won the support of enough GOP senators to pass it tonight.
Meanwhile, all Dems and Sen. Rob Cowles, R-Green Bay, voted against it.
Under current law, companies seeking a sulfide mining permit must prove they operated for 10 years and were closed for 10 years without polluting groundwater or surface water. The bill would remove those requirements.
Dems today argued the law currently on the books — referred to as the “Prove It First” law — is a “reasonable standard” that provided adequate protections for the state’s ground and surface water.
Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-Middleton, argued that “current law works” and the bill would leave taxpayers on the hook to cover potential remediation costs down the line.
“We are opening up the doors to litigation, we are opening up the doors to uncertainty,” he said.
Meanwhile, the amendment the Assembly approved last Thursday is made up of five provisions. That includes one that would delay the bill’s implementation for six months after the bill would be signed to give local governments time to evaluate their own mining ordinances.
Other provisions in the amendment would: require mining operations to be paused during a contested case hearing; clarify the 10,000-ton bulk sampling limit includes everything removed from the earth; and further clear up language regarding the proposed technology to be used at the mining site.
The final provision would ensure mining companies can’t shift revenues or profits to another operation outside of the state or community to prevent the hosting community from receiving the tax revenue it should from the mining operation.