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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

 2:09 PM 

Former DNR Sec. Meyer hits GOP bill for contested case hearing, mitigation

Former DNR Secretary George Meyer, who has opposed past versions of the mining bill, said to the committee that he takes significant issue with exemptions to the permit process and what he characterized as a weakened contested case hearing process.

Meyer, speaking as executive director of the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, said that the contested case process has been switched to put the burden of proof on an objector and can't stop the company from mining once they have a permit in hand.

Meyer also said that the wetlands provision, aside from possibly running into issues with the feds, doesn't seem to address the problem of filling in or destroying wetlands because it doesn't focus on nearby impacted watersheds.

"There's going to be an impact to that [Bad River] waterway," Meyer said. "Not to mitigate in that watershed is hard to understand. Why would you want to mitigate in Spooner or Rhinelander when the damage is in Ashland County?"

Meyer also said that the timeline provided in the bill might be long enough to permit mines similar to the one in Jackson County, but that it would be problematic for a mine of the size GTAC is proposing.

Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Falls, asked whether the DNR would knowingly approve a mining project that would pollute the environment. Meyer said the agency wouldn't willingly do it, but that the bill as written may force it into that position.

Meyer clarified after a question from Sen. Tom Tiffany, R-Hazelhurst, that the bill does not change air or water standards, but did weaken protections for navigable waters and wetlands.

Comments: 1

At January 24, 2013 at 11:41 AM, Blogger Nick Milroy said...

I wonder if Sen. Darling would knowingly approve mining legislation that explicitly allows for exemptions from environmental regulations and will without question pollute our environment?

Knowing the difference between the roles and responsibilities of lawmakers verses the DNR is an important part of the job of a legislator. Legislators create laws that allow for statutorily defined levels of pollution and the DNR enforces those standards no matter how lenient or stringent. The GOP mining bill allows for exemptions from pollution standards, essentially nullifying environmental regulations currently set in law.


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