Gogebic Taconite, based out of Florida, has proposed a massive twenty-one mile long iron-ore strip mine in some of the most beautiful and pristine land in the northern part of the state. Walker and the GOP are promoting the mining bill as the most important "jobs bill" of the session. Since Governor Walker's austerity budget kicked in on July 1, Wisconsin has lost jobs for six straight months, the worst record in the country.
The Assembly proposal (PDF) would make numerous changes to current law, including regarding how mines can affect waterways, wetlands and groundwater. The new bill drastically limits the time available to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for processing permit requests to 360 days. Similar permit requests in Minnesota took between two and four years. The new bill also places a two million dollar cap on the amount a company must reimburse the DNR for costs associated with processing a request. Any expense beyond the two million dollar cap would come from the DNR's budget. Similar mining permits elsewhere have cost between three and four million dollars, and the DNR already faces severe cuts.