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UPDATE: Army Corps refuses joint statement on Wis. mine

UPDATED Monday, December 30, 2013 --- 3:07 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says it won't work with the state to develop an environmental impact statement for Gogebic Taconite's potential iron mine near Mellen.

The project requires state and federal permission. A law Republicans passed this year streamlining state mining requirements called for state regulators to ask the corps to join them in developing one environmental impact statement.

Corps Regulatory Branch Chief Tamara Cameron declined the request in a Dec. 23 letter, saying the state and federal environmental review processes would likely differ and the corps lacks resources to prepare an EIS ahead of an actual mining application. Gogebic hasn't submitted such an application yet.

However, Cameron said the corps would work with the Department of Natural Resources to determine what would be required in an EIS.

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UPDATED Thursday, December 12, 2013 --- 11:09 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Gov. Scott Walker has signed a bill that would restrict public access to a potential iron mine site in northern Wisconsin.

Gogebic Taconite is looking to dig a 4 1/2-mile long open-pit mine in the Penokee Hills east of Mellen. About 3,500 acres around the site in the Penokee Hills east of Mellen is open to the public through the state's managed forest program. The company fears protesters are taking advantage of that access to harass mine workers as they conduct mineral sampling and other tests.

The Republican bill creates 600-foot restricted zones around mining equipment and roads at the site.

Walker's office released a statement Thursday saying the governor had signed the measure. The statement said the bill focuses on the health and safety of site visitors and mine workers.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATED Thursday, November 14, 2013 --- 6:04 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Wisconsin Republicans are one step away from sending a bill that would restrict public access to a potential iron mine site to Gov. Scott Walker.

The state Assembly is set to vote Thursday on a bill that would establish 600-foot restricted zones around mining equipment and roads on the site. The Senate passed the bill last week. Assembly approval would send the measure on to the governor. Walker has been non-committal on the measure.

Gogebic Taconite wants to dig a huge iron mine in the Penokee Hills east of Mellen. About 3,500 acres around the site is open to the public through the state's managed forest program. The company fears protesters are taking advantage of that access to harass mine workers as they conduct sampling and other tests.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press
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UPDATED Wednesday, November 6, 2013 --- 10:21 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A Wisconsin Assembly committee has scheduled a public hearing on a bill that would restrict public access to a potential iron mining site near Lake Superior.

The state Senate passed the Republican measure on Tuesday, sending the proposal on to the Assembly. That chamber's forestry committee has set a hearing on the bill for Thursday morning. Committee approval would clear the way for a vote in that house.

Gogebic Taconite wants to dig a huge iron mine in the Penokee Hills east of Mellen. About 3,500 acres around the site is open to the public through the state's managed forest program. The company fears protesters are taking advantage of that access to harass mine workers.

The bill would establish 600-foot restricted zones around mining equipment and roads on the site.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATED Tuesday, November 5, 2013 --- 5:49 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The Wisconsin state Senate is expected to take up a Republican bill that would close sections of forest around a northwestern Wisconsin mine site.

About 3,500 acres around the site in the Penokee Hills are part of the state's managed forest program, which grants landowners reduced fees in lieu of property taxes if they keep the land open for public recreation. Tensions have been high at the site since protesters emerged from the forest in June and began insulting mine workers.

The bill would close the area around mining equipment and roads on the site. The state Department of Natural Resources could close additional land to protect the public and mine workers.

The Senate was scheduled to take up the bill during a floor session Tuesday.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATED Monday, September 16, 2013 --- 3:41 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The author of a bill that would restrict public access to a northern Wisconsin mine site says he doesn't have the votes to pass it right now.

Sen. Tom Tiffany, a Hazelhurst Republican, says the bill is meant to protect mine workers and regulators from protesters. Opponents counter the bill goes too far and punishes law-abiding hunters, hikers and anglers.

The bill was on the fast track but Republican Senate leaders chose not to include it on Tuesday's floor calendar.

Tiffany says members of his caucus want to ensure as much access as possible. He says he's trying to work out a compromise.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATED Monday, September 16, 2013 --- 12:45 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Republican leaders have decided not to place a bill that would close off public access to a northern Wisconsin mine site on the Senate's floor agenda this week.

Gogebic Taconite's plans to dig a 4 1/2-mile long iron mine in the Penokee Hills have been a flashpoint of contention for more than a year. The bill's author, Sen. Tom Tiffany, a Hazelhurst Republican, says the bill is designed to protect miners and environmental regulators from protesters.

The proposal looked like it was on the fast track -- the Senate's mining committee held a public hearing and approved the bill in two days -- but it's not on the Senate's Tuesday floor agenda.

A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald didn't immediately return messages. Tiffany also didn't immediately return a message.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATED Thursday, September 5, 2013 --- 10:42 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A legislative committee has approved a Republican bill that would close thousands of acres around a potential mine site in far northern Wisconsin.

The Senate mining committee approved the bill on a 5-2 vote Thursday morning. The vote clears the way for a full vote in the Senate. GOP leaders say the bill could come before the body this month.

The measure would close about 3,500 acres around the site to public recreation. The proposal's author, Sen. Tom Tiffany, says the measure is designed to protect mine workers and government regulators from bands of protesters roaming the woods.

Gogebic Taconite is looking to dig a 4 1/2-mile long iron mine in the Penokee Hills near Lake Superior. The company has hired armed guards to protect the site.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATED Thursday, September 5, 2013 --- 6:37 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A legislative committee is planning to vote on a bill that would close thousands of acres around a potential mine site in far northern Wisconsin.

The Senate mining committee is scheduled to vote on the proposal Thursday morning. Approval would clear the way for a full vote in the Senate.

Sen. Tom Tiffany's bill would close about 3,500 acres around the site to public recreation. Tiffany says the measure is designed to protect mine workers and government regulators from bands of protesters roaming the woods.

Gogebic Taconite is looking to dig a 4 1/2-mile long iron mine in the Penokee Hills just south of Lake Superior. The company has hired armed guards after a group of protesters emerged from the woods in June and accosted mine workers.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATED Wednesday, September 4, 2013--5:40p.m.

MADISON--State lawmakers are getting the chance to learn more about a bill that could impact use of the land near a proposed mining site.

The bill would close nearly 4,000 acres of forest near the Gogebic Taconite site in Penokee Hills. The area is currently available for recreational uses like hunting, fishing and hiking. State Sen. Thomas Tiffany, R-Hazelhurst, says the bill would protect workers at the site. Earlier this summer protestors came out of the woods and accosted the workers there. "It brings me no joy to have to do this but this is about people's public safety and we have to find a way to protect these people," he said. "Because we heard from the protesters, the violent protesters, they said 'we will be back'."

State Sen. Tiffany is the bill's author. He started the hearing by showing a video of the incident with the protesters.

Today's hearing was strictly informational. The committee is scheduled to meet again tomorrow and may take action on the bill then.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press
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UPDATED Wednesday, September 4, 2013 --- 11:54 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A Republican lawmaker says the Legislature must close the woods around a northern Wisconsin mine site to protect miners and public workers from protesters.

Sen. Tom Tiffany has proposed a bill that would close around 4,000 acres in the Penokee Hills while Gogebic Taconite is exploring digging a iron mine there. The land around the site is part of the state managed forest program, which ensures it remains open for recreation.

Tiffany kicked off a public hearing on the bill in front of the Senate mining committee on Wednesday by showing a video recording of protesters accosting mine workers at the site in June. He says mine workers and public workers doing testing on the mine's environmental impact deserve to be safe.

Opponents say the bill is an overreaction.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATED Wednesday, September 4, 2013 --- 11:26 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Legislators are set to listen to the public sound off on a plan to close the woods around a mine site in far northern Wisconsin.

Gogebic Taconite wants to dig a 4 1/2-mile-long iron mine in the Penokee Hills. Opponents fear the mine will pollute the pristine region. Protesters emerged from the woods around the site in June and accosted mine workers, prompting Gogebic Taconite to hire paramilitary-style guards.

The woods around the site are part of the state managed forest program, which ensures the land remains open for recreation.

Republican Sens. Tom Tiffany and Glenn Grothman have introduced a bill that would close the forest to recreation until Gogebic Taconite obtains a final mining permit. The Senate mining committee is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the proposal Wednesday.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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Posted Friday, August 30, 2013 --- 4:45 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Two Republican legislators have introduced a bill that would close down the forest around an iron mine site just south of Lake Superior.

Gogebic Taconite wants to dig a 4 1/2-mile mine in the Penokee Hills. The forest around the site is enrolled in the Department of Natural Resources' managed forest program, which ensures access for hiking, hunting, fishing, skiing and sightseeing. Protesters emerged from the forest earlier this summer and accosted mine workers.

Sens. Glenn Grothman and Tom Tiffany's bill would allow Gogebic Taconite to close up to 4,000 acres around the site to recreational use. Tiffany says the proposal is meant to help protect mine workers from more protesters.

The Senate's mining committee has scheduled a public hearing on the bill for Wednesday.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press


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