By Rebecca Kemble
Posted July 5, 2013 on Wisconsin Citizens Media Cooperative
Reprinted in part with permission
HURLEY, WIS. -- On July 1, 2013, over a hundred people attended the Iron County (Wisconsin) Zoning Committee’s public hearing on a proposed mining ordinance in Hurley, Wisconsin.
Ashland County Supervisor Charles Ortman signs up to speak during the July 1, 2013, Iron County, Wis., public hearing on a proposed mining ordinance in Hurley, Wis. (Photo © and courtesy Rebecca Kemble)
Twenty-three of the twenty-eight people who testified urged the Committee to develop an ordinance containing the strongest possible protections for public health, safety and shared natural resources.
Wisconsin’s new mining law prohibits the state’s Department of Natural Resources from issuing stop orders if mining operations threaten public health, safety or the environment. The law also states that "adverse impacts to wetlands are presumed to be necessary in bulk sampling and mining activities." Opponents of the law argued that statement gives mining companies a blank check to pollute.
With the recent gutting of environmental regulations relating to mining in state law, it is now up to municipal and county governments to protect the health, safety and air and water quality of their communities.
Last month Ashland County enacted a local ordinance regulating any potential mining activities. Administrators and elected officials in neighboring Iron County then realized that they needed one too. That’s because in the absence of a zoning regulation specifically permitting it, mining would be considered an illegal activity. Iron County currently has no provisions for metallic mining in their zoning code.
Click here to read the rest of this article and see several video clips of citizens' testimonies at this July 1 public hearing.