Derailing the development of an iron mine in northern Wisconsin, the Democrat-led State Senate earlier this month rejected a bill that would have streamlined the onerous permitting process for mining projects in the state.
While environmental concerns were cited as a key reason for rejecting the legislation, the Department of Natural Resources confirmed that it would have been able to permit an iron mine in said area without environmental harm. Proponents of the legislation allege political motivations behind the bill’s failure, which has subsequently prompted the proposed developer to abandon the project, as public service unions opposed to the governor’s budget plan were cheerleading for the legislation’s defeat.
On a larger scale, the bill’s rejection throws a wrench into efforts to create a policy framework conducive to maximizing our nation’s mineral potential while creating jobs and reducing our exposure to geopolitical risk associated with foreign import dependencies. The obvious losers in this case, however, are Wisconsin’s economy and its workers as the mine was estimated to create as many as 2,200 jobs and to inject a minimum of $1.5 billion into the depressed area.