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DNR says they could have approved iron mine near Hurley


MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - The head of the state DNR says her agency could have approved an iron ore mine near Hurley without harming the environment.

Cathy Stepp issued a statement Friday blasting the Senate’s rejection of a compromise bill on Tuesday, which caused Gogebic Taconite to abandon its project.

Stepp, a former Republican state senator, said it was hard to sit back and watch the debate and what she called the “hyper political language.”

The DNR secretary said she hoped calmer heads would have prevailed considering, “the $1.5 billion investment and the thousands of resulting jobs that the state could have welcomed while the environment is protected.”

Instead, she said the issue became, “just another political piñata, with some senators clearly displaying that politics is more important than getting things done for Wisconsin citizens.” And she said the bill eventually died because of, “the motivation not to allow a political success for Governor Walker.”

Even with all the compromises from lawmakers, Stepp said mining would still have been one of the most regulated industries.

She said the mine would have also had to be approved by the federal EPA, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the U.S. Fish-and-Wildlife Service. And it would have to meet the water quality standards dictated by the Bad River Indians, who have the power to control the quality of waters that flow into their reservation.