Water pollution

Republicans want to appeal a law that protects Wisconsin water from copper mine pollution.

Two Wisconsin lawmakers have introduced legislation to repeal a law that requires mining companies to prove they've operated without polluting before they can mine in the state.

Under the Prove It First mining law, companies must prove their mine will not spill acid and heavy metals into waters.

There has never been a metallic sulfide mine that has not polluted nearby drinking water or other water resources like lakes and rivers, according to the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters.

The Wisconsin State Journal reports that Republican Sen. Tom Tiffany of Hazelhurst and Republican Rep. Rob Hutton of Brookfield introduced the bill to repeal Prove It First.

“Unfortunately, Sen. Tiffany has been at the forefront of so many attacks on Wisconsin’s natural resources, we have come to expect the absolute worst from him,” said WLCV executive director Kerry Schumann, in a prepared statement. “This bill lives up to that expectation. It would repeal a common sense law that requires America’s most toxic industry – metallic sulfide mining – to prove it won’t harm Wisconsin’s environment.

“Want to dig up our beautiful places? Then prove you won’t permanently damage them. This bill would instead allow mining companies to leave local communities with toxic waters and the bill for cleanup. We urge all legislators to refrain from co-sponsoring this irresponsible legislation.”

Tiffany says the Flambeau copper mine near Ladysmith operated safely and is an example of why the restriction isn't needed. The mine operated for four years before closing in 1997.

A federal judge ruled in 2012 that the mine released a minimal amount of copper into the state's waters, but the ruling was later reversed in 2013, according to The Associated Press.

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