Senator defends sweeping changes to Wisconsin permits

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — State Sen. Neal Kedzie is defending his far-reaching plan to overhaul the state Department of Natural Resources’ water permit process at a jammed public hearing.

Kedzie has proposed a bill that dramatically reworks the agency’s protocols. For example, it would shrink the window for public hearings on permits and grant automatic approvals if the DNR doesn’t make a decision within 30 days.

Democrats fear the measure is designed to clear the way for a northern Wisconsin iron mine. Dozens of people packed a public hearing on the bill Wednesday, waiting their turn to sound off on the plan.

Kedzie opened the hearing by saying the bill isn’t meant to set the stage for mining. He says the DNR must abide by deadlines like the rest of the world.