Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill Monday lifting a “mining moratorium” on extracting most minerals from his state, mainly copper, zinc, gold and silver.
The bill, dubbed “Mining for America,” overturned many strict regulations that essentially barred most types of mineral mining except iron. The regulations were put in place decades ago over fears of acid mine drainage polluting the water supply, Wisconsin’s Journal Sentinel reports.
“Mining is a vital piece of Wisconsin’s history and is at the core of our cultural identity,” Walker said in a statement. “With this new bill, we’re paying tribute to our state’s rich roots in the field and creating new family-supporting careers in the mining industry, all while protecting our abundant and valuable natural resources.”
Environmentalists criticized Walker’s decision to sign the bill as a sellout to the mining industry.
“Governor Walker’s approval of this bill proves he is in the pocket of foreign mining companies’ interests over those of state residents and taxpayers,” Sierra Club-John Muir Chapter Mining Chair Dave Blouin said in a statement. “This law will not result in prosperity for northern Wisconsin and threatens the natural resources that are the foundation of sustainable jobs from tourism, agriculture and our outdoor heritage.”
Free market organization Americans for Prosperity Wisconsin Director Eric Bott said lifting the mining restrictions is an “early Christmas present” for Wisconsin residents looking for work.
“This law will begin to bring back the good-paying, family-sustaining, blue-collar jobs that once supported the local economy and communities in the Northern part of our state,” Bott said in a statement.
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