July 1 Changes Wisconsin Mining Laws, But It's Not A Deadline, Says Observer

Jun 13, 2018

Oneida Co. Courthouse
Credit Wikimedia Commons Royalbroil

A spokesperson for the state Sierra Club questions why there's a rush in Oneida county to change it's mining ordinance.

Last December in Rhinelander, Governor Walker signed a bill labeled "Mining For America", which, among other things, repealed the state's "Prove It First" law, commonly known as the Mining Moratorium bill.

That bill required mining companies to prove they could mine without major damage to the environment. The implementation of the new law is set to begin July 1. Oneida county has spent much time rewriting its ordinance to meet a perceived July 1 deadline to do so. Marathon county has also rewritten it's ordinance.

But Dave Blouin ,state mining chair for the Sierra Club, says Act 134 doesn't require governments to update their regulations by July 1. He says the date is arbitrary...

"....it's especially arbitrary for Oneida county because Oneida is unusual because it controls the mineral rights and land where the primary deposit of interest is located, the Lynne deposit. That means there's no company that has a lease for that land or the mineral rights at this point.The county still controls them. Until a company even begins to demonstrate an interest on the deposit, the county is in charge of the timeline for updating their ordinance...."

Language is being rewritten by a committee and a public hearing held recently prior to next week's Oneida county board meeting where the changes are likely to be debated. At prior board meetings, supervisors felt they wanted to have the ordinance rewrite in place should a company show interest shortly after July 1.