It’s good to see the state legislature back at work.
Assembly Bill 499 would replace a law that essentially bars companies from extracting minerals such as copper, gold and silver because of pollution concerns.
Rep. Rob Hutton (R-Brookfield), the chief Assembly sponsor of the bill, said the measure would allow Wisconsin officials to consider mining proposals just as its neighbors have for decades.
“Minnesota is doing it on our left,” he said. “Michigan is doing it on our right. We need to be part of that discussion.”
Wisconsin is the only state with such a restriction, which has kept mining companies out of the state since Rio Tinto Kennecott closed the Flambeau mine in Ladysmith in 1997 after four years of mining copper, gold and silver.
Supporters of the bill say that new technology allows for safer, cleaner mining that would bring needed jobs to rural areas.
Environmentalists say opening the door to metallic mining would threaten state waterways.