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State wetlands group upset about inclusion of looser standards in mining bill


MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - The Wisconsin Wetlands Association says it’s disappointed that GOP lawmakers went against a promise made a year ago, and included looser wetland standards in their new mining bill.

The governor and Legislature approved a streamlining of the state’s wetland regulations – and one of its main authors promised at the time it would have nothing to do with mining.

Now, Republican lawmakers have included the looser wetland rules in their mining bill that’s up for a public hearing today before committees in both houses.

The measure would allow mining companies to tap into wetlands, as long as they create an equal amount of wetlands elsewhere.

Erin O’Brien of the Wetlands Association said her group worked in good faith with the Senate sponsor of the wetland bill – Elkhorn Republican Neal Kedzie – as well as others. At a public hearing a year ago, Kedzie promised that his wetland package, “does not set the stage, nor does it create any kind of backdoor for mining.”

But after seeing the new wetland rules in the mining bill, O’Brien told the Madison Capital Times, “Obviously we didn’t connect all the dots.” She said the looser wetland rules for mining were, “somebody’s objective.”

It’s not known whether Kedzie knew his measure would end up in the mining bill. He has not commented, and O’Brien said she had not spoken with Kedzie since the mining package was introduced a week ago.