The following is a statement, sent March 7, 2012, from Senator Bob Jauch (D-Poplar) in reaction to the announcement that GTAC (Gogebic Taconite) has decided to pull out of its plan to mine the Penokee Range in Iron and Ashland Counties, Wisconsin:
I am disappointed that GTAC has decided to abruptly leave Wisconsin instead of working with lawmakers to reach a compromise on responsible mining legislation.*
Contrary to GTAC’s statement, the Senate did not reject mining reform. The Senate simply rejected the Assembly plan and we were prepared to adopt a bipartisan mining reform proposal until the Senate Republican Leader decided to move the bill back to committee.
Senator Schultz and I along with a majority of the Senate would have preferred to adopt our bipartisan plan instead of ending debate. However we joined the Republican leader in his request to move the bill back to committee in order to continue the effort to reach a compromise.
Even though a year ago the company made a similar announcement when they closed their Hurley office for a week, I am puzzled by this decision. Mr. Williams’ remarks are inconsistent with a conversation I had with him the night before, where he never indicated that GTAC’s bottom line was passage of the Assembly Bill. He also never mentioned any specific concerns or offered any suggestions on how to improve the bipartisan plan put forth by Senator Schultz and me.
Regardless of GTAC’s announcement, it is our duty to continue to work towards reform of the mining regulatory process. For over a year, I have worked to create a fair, flexible and responsible mining law that protects the public voice, helps create jobs and preserves our environment. In fact, our bipartisan plan is very similar to the mining laws in Minnesota, where more iron is mined than any other state.
Yesterday I met with Governor Walker’s Chief of Staff and re-emphasized my willingness to work to achieve our common goal of reforming our mining laws.
Senator Schultz and I have demonstrated that Republicans and Democrats can work together and believe our proposal can be a blue print to achieving a bipartisan, responsible legislation solution on the issue of mining reform.
*Editor's Note: See "Statement by Gogebic Taconite after Wisconsin Senate vote."