Recently, a Canadian mining company declared its intentions to mine for copper and gold in northern Wisconsin. Local tribes and municipalities have expressed concern over the potential impacts of mining, including possible contamination of Wisconsin waterways and environmental destruction.

Concern stems from the 2017 repeal of the so-called “mining moratorium” that Wisconsin used to have in place. Moratorium is a misnomer- in fact, it was a simple anti-pollution measure that Republicans in the legislature repealed five years ago. The statute essentially stated that companies could mine as long as they could prove that it would not result in environmental pollution. It was a straightforward environmental protection measure, which Republicans jettisoned despite objections from Democrats.

Just as worrisome is that the local government was considering passing a resolution opposing the project but decided against it because they were concerned that vindictive politicians in Madison would retaliate and “punish” the county for a perceived slight. This is an extremely troublesome development- local politicians should not be afraid of doing what is right for their constituents because the party in power has become so malicious and spiteful to anyone that doesn’t fall in line with their extremist policies.

I have authored and introduced a measure in several legislative sessions that would properly regulate mining in Wisconsin and restore anti-pollution measures. While it has not received a hearing yet, I am confident that over the next several years more and more Wisconsinites will line up on the side of environmental protection, and that some kind of pro-environment legislation will pass. Until then, we need municipalities and native Wisconsin tribes to continue to fight for Wisconsin’s natural resources at the local level in order to ensure a safe and clean environment for future generations.

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