Wisconsin Republicans Disagree On Fate Of Mining Bill

Meteor Timber Wants To Build Sand-Processing Plant In Monroe County

Wisconsin frac sand mine
Steve Karnowski/AP Photo

Republican senators are disagreeing over whether a bill that would allow a Georgia mining company to destroy a rare wetlands in western Wisconsin still has a chance of passing.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald tells The Associated Press on Wednesday that the bill is “not dead,” but he doesn’t know yet if there are enough votes to pass it. Republicans have an 18-14 majority.

His comments contradict those made by fellow Republicans Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, and Sen. Rob Cowles, R-Green Bay, who both told the Associated Press on Wednesday that because of opposition from GOP senators the measure is dead.

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The Assembly last week attached an amendment benefiting the Meteor Timber company onto an unrelated bill of Darling’s.

The measure would exempt Meteor Timber from environmental regulations for its $70 million frac sand processing plan. Meteor Timber wants to build a sand-processing plant to serve the frac sand industry near Interstate 94 in Monroe County.

Cowles is chairman of the Senate Natural Resources Committee. He calls the bill “ridiculous” and “outrageous” because it would allow Meteor Timber to proceed with its project even as an appeal to its state-issued permit was pending. Darling is co-chair of the budget committee and she also says it doesn’t have the votes to pass.