Wisconsin Assembly passes sweeping mining bill

Last Updated: Fri, Mar 08, 2013 00:46 hrs

The Wisconsin Assembly has approved a polarizing mining bill backed by Republicans, completing a two-year push to help a company dig a giant iron mine near Lake Superior.

The Assembly passed the measure on a 58-39 vote Thursday. Republican Gov. Scott Walker has promised to sign it into law.

Gogebic (go-GEE'-bick) Taconite has refused to move forward with its plans for an open-pit mine in the Penokee Hills until legislators ease the regulatory path.

The bill dramatically reworks Wisconsin's mining rules. It puts a deadline on a final permit decision and declares any wetland damage is presumed necessary.

The GOP says the measure will help create hundreds of jobs. Opponents say the bill loosens environmental standards too much. They already are talking about challenging it in court.

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