Assembly Passes Controversial Mining Bill
If the plan to build an iron mine near Lake Superior is approved, the bill would go to Governor Walker's desk for final passage. Video by nbc26.comvideo
MADISON, Wis.-- The Wisconsin Assembly passed a mining bill Thursday clearing the way to build an iron mine near Lake Superior. The bill will now go to Governor Walker's desk for final passage.
The debate began at 9AM Thurday, which is a rare start time. There was strong opposition, but one thing they did agree on was they wouldn't let the battle go on for more than 9 and-a-half hours.
After 12 hearings and over 70 hours of debate--both sides argued up until the end.
"As it stands is an environmental and economic disaster waiting to happen," Democrat Rep. Penny Bernard Schaber of Appleton said.
"You keep throwing bombs and maybe trying to burst our bubble," Republican Rep. John Nygren of Marinette said.
Nygren says opening an iron mine will boost the state's economy by creating more than 6,300 jobs that would have an average wage of about $80,000 a year.
"I don't think the timeline of when the jobs will take place or come is something we should be talking about. We should be talking about how we can drive our economy, how we can employ our people," Nygren said.
But Schaber argues the idea is a bust and will lead to environmental problems.
"I am greatly concerned the result will have heavy impacts on surface and ground water quality and quantity," Schaber said.
Democrats kept raising amendments to delay the vote because republicans hold a 59 to 39 majority in the assembly.
Governor Walker could sign the bill into law as early as next week. The mine could be running in a few years.