Walker expected to sign bill to lift ban on gold and silver mining

MADISON, Wis. - Gov. Scott Walker plans to sign a Republican bill lifting Wisconsin’s nearly 20-year ban on gold and silver mining — a ban he himself helped put in place as a legislator.

Lawmakers passed statutes in 1998 that require sulfide mining applicants to show a similar mine has operated in North American for 10 years without polluting and a similar mine has been closed for 10 years without polluting. State environmental officials have never made a final determination that any applicants ever met those standards.

Walker voted for the ban as a member of the Assembly.

The Assembly passed a bill last week that lifts the ban. The Senate followed suit on Tuesday evening, sending the bill to Walker’s desk.

Walker’s spokesman, Tom Evenson, said in an email that the governor supports the bill and intends to sign it. Evenson said if any state in the country can conduct safe and environmentally sound mining it should be Wisconsin.

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7:10 p.m.

The state Senate has lifted Wisconsin’s nearly 20-year ban on gold and silver mining.

Lawmakers passed statutes in 1998 that require sulfide mining applicants to show a similar mine has operated in North American for 10 years without polluting and a similar mine has been closed for 10 years without polluting. State environmental officials have never made a final determination that any applicants ever met those standards.

The Senate passed a Republican bill on a 19-14 vote Tuesday that lifts those requirements, reduces mining companies’ financial liability for environmental damage and loosens regulations for sampling. Democrats complained the measure would open the door to devastating pollution, but Republicans countered mining could help northern Wisconsin’s economy.

The Assembly passed the bill lasts week. Senate approval sends the measure to Gov. Scott Walker, who voted for the moratorium as a member of the Assembly. The governor’s spokesman, Tom Evenson, didn’t immediately reply to an email Tuesday evening asking if Walker will sign the bill.

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4 a.m.

The state Senate is poised to lift Wisconsin’s nearly 20-year ban on gold and silver mining.

Lawmakers passed statutes in 1998 that require sulfide mining applicants to show a similar mine has operated in North American for 10 years without polluting and a similar mine has been closed for 10 years without polluting.

State environmental officials have never made a final determination that any applicants ever met those standards, leading critics to brand the requirements a moratorium.

The Senate is set to vote on a Republican bill Tuesday that would eliminate the requirements and loosen mining companies’ financial liability for environmental damage as well as sampling regulations.

The Assembly passed the bill last week. Senate approval would send the measure on to Gov. Scott Walker.

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