Wis. mine bill would slash money for environment

New projections show a divisive mining bill would short the state tens of millions of dollars that would be used for recycling and environmental protection.

The Republican bill is designed to help Gogebic Taconite open a huge iron mine just south of Lake Superior.

A Legislative Fiscal Bureau has released a paper examining changes the bill makes to waste rock disposal fees. Currently, mining companies must pay the state about $7 per ton. The money helps fund recycling efforts, sediment and water pollution abatement programs and state administration of contaminated land and brownfield cleanup programs.

The bill would reduce those fees to about 3 cents per ton. The paper says the move means Gogebic Taconite wouldn’t have to pay the state about $171 million annually it would otherwise owe.