Newsmakers: Mining in Northern Wisconsin – Senate Mining Committee Chairman Neal Kedzie
Republican Sen. Neal Kedzie may have the toughest assignment in the Capitol — chair a special Senate Committee on Mining Jobs that will try to write new regulatory laws for mining in Wisconsin. If Kedzie is successful, Gogebic Taconite may invest up to $1.5 billion in a huge open pit mine in Ashland and Iron counties. Although environmentalists and the Bad River Tribe oppose the mine, local officials and residents of those counties say they desperately need the 700 jobs it could eventually create. In a Newsmakers interview on Oct. 13, Kedzie said he would like a draft bill finished by Jan. 1 and admitted that the committee’s work may be criticized for hurting the environment by caving in to a large mining company with no experience in Wisconsin. He said he hopes the four Republican and three Democrats on the committee could hold their first meeting within two weeks.