After months of bitter debate, Gov. Scott Walker has signed a bill that relaxes Wisconsin's mining regulations.
The governor signed the measure Monday at Oldenburg Group Inc., a Rhinelander mining equipment manufacturer. He has planned a ceremonial signing in Milwaukee later in the day.
The signing completes a major victory for Walker and his fellow Republicans. They've been working for the better part of two years to pass a bill to help Gogebic Taconite open a huge iron mine near Lake Superior. Republicans say the mine will create thousands of jobs.
Environmental groups contend the legislation will lead to pollution and are mulling lawsuits challenging the bill's provisions. The Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa is considering a legal challenge as well as occupying the mine site.
Governor Walker released the following statement after signing Senate Bill 1 into law:
"Wisconsin’s seal and the state flag both depict mining in our great state. In light of our mining tradition, I’m thrilled to sign legislation into law protecting environmental safeguards, while providing certainty to the mine permitting process.
I would like to thank Legislative leaders in both the State Senate and State Assembly for their tireless commitment to move this bill forward. After making substantial changes to the legislation, aimed at protecting our state’s vital natural resources, the bill I signed into law today will preserve our tradition of clean land, water, and air.
I am hopeful today’s actions will result in the creation of thousands of private sector jobs in the coming years."