In February, Wisconsin Republicans introduced a bill which would cut $171 million annually from environmental programs. Gov. Scott Walker signed the bill into law on Monday, officially providing a large tax cut to the mining industry while gutting recycling and conservation programs across the state.
Republican lawmakers supported repealing a $7 per ton tax on material removed from the ground. The tax funded the state's recycling programs, as well as conservation efforts around Lake Superior.
The signing clears the way for one mining company to construct an open pit iron mine in a pristine area of forest along Lake Superior. The proposed mine would create 700 mining jobs, with another 2,100 jobs in the support sector. With an expected operational span of 35 years, the state stands to lose $6 billion in tax revenue during that time.
Environmentalists and Democrats are considering legal challenges to the mining bill, seen as a kickback to lobbyists from the mining industry.