Wisconsin Republicans are moving to change state law to shorten the permitting process for a huge open pit iron mine in northern Wisconsin, which now takes from two to seven years, to a lightning-fast 300 days.
One report says the bill will be considered in a special session, to insure that it passes by June 30.
Two GOP state leggies, State Sen. Rich Zipperer of Pewaukee and State Rep. Mark Honadel of South Milwaukee, are touring the proposed site in Ashland and Iron Counties today.
Neither is what you'd call an environmentalist. Honadel scored 56% and Zipperer 28% on the League of Conservation Voters legislative scorecard last session.
Why should it take so long to issue a mining permit? To allow time for hearings, public participation, and studies on potential impact on the region's environment. The shorter the process, the less time and fewer opportunities for objections, studies, analysis, and discussion.
The proposal by Gogebic Taconite is no small matter. It involves moving mountains of earth and rock to get at the iron ore, creating huge tailings dumps.