The impact of a controversial bill that would restrict local government regulation of frac sand mines might be broader than originally thought, affecting the proposed iron ore mine in northern Wisconsin and factory farms across the state, opponents said Thursday at a Capitol hearing.
As hunters prepare for Wisconsin’s wolf hunt, some scientists are warning that a proposal to sharply cull the population could destabilize it — just two years after wolves were removed from the federal endangered list.
In March, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources restructured the membership of its species advisory committees, reducing DNR staff, removing university researchers and adding more representatives from external interest groups.
While the state has made some progress with the backlog in the past two decades, a “startling” number of plant closings during the recent recession has created “an entirely new generation of brownfields,” according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
Frac sand fever has hit much of west-central Wisconsin, catching residents and local governments by surprise when demand for sand suddenly soared and permit applications began to pour in. The number of Wisconsin frac sand mining operations has more than doubled in the past year.
There’s a new wrinkle in Wisconsin’s fast-growing frac sand mining: It turns out that an endangered butterfly, the Karner blue, lives in the same region. And some companies may be failing to check for the butterfly as they move ahead with mining operations.
Republicans in the state Legislature have unveiled a long-awaited bill to revamp state wetlands policy. The proposal, the subject of a Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism report published in November, would make it easier for developers to infill wetlands in exchange for what’s known as “mitigation,” the creation of new wetlands.
Over the past six months, Gogebic Taconite LLC spent $114,883 lobbying state officials in support of its proposal to open an iron ore mine in northern Wisconsin. State Sen. Bob Jauch, D-Poplar, who represents the district where the mine would be located, says this was “a complete waste of money.”
This western Wisconsin community is in the midst of a land rush — call it a sand rush — fueled by exploding nationwide demand for fine silica sand used in hydraulic fracturing of oil and natural gas. At least 16 frac sand mines and processing facilities are operating, and an additional 25 sites are proposed, in a diagonal swath stretching across 15 Wisconsin counties from Burnett to Columbia, the Center has found.