Date: Fri, 10 Dec 1999 01:19:27 EST
   [excerpts follow]

Minnesota Star-Tribune

Published Thursday, December 9, 1999 

DNR board declines to create rules for mining moratorium law
By JENNY PRICE / Associated Press Writer

With BC-WI--Mining Moratorium-Glance 

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The head of the state Department of Natural Resources says the 
state' s mining moratorium law does not require new administrative rules to clarify 
how the law should be carried out.

At the department' s recommendation, the Natural Resources Board on Wednesday voted 
against adopting rules requested by officials and environmental groups who say they 
would clarify the moratorium law.

Two state lawmakers, two tribal chairmen and five citizens petitioned the state 
Natural Resources Board to adopt rules for implementing the 1998 law, a process 
regularly used by bureaucracies to execute the laws.

The moratorium law, which has already taken effect, was designed to add new 
protections for the environment in state mining regulations. The law also creates 
another requirement for Nicolet Minerals Co. to meet before opening a proposed zinc 
and copper mine near Crandon.

The rules would have included definitions of phrases such as " significant 
environmental pollution" and clarify whether one or two mines could be used to meet 
requirements of the law, the petitioners said.

The board voted 6-0 against adopting the rules, because the state Department of 
Natural Resources said the law already contained directions as to how it should be 
carried out.

Prior to the law' s passage in February 1998, DNR Secretary George Meyer distributed a 
memorandum to DNR employees that said the department would begin drafting 
administrative rules if the bill became law.

Since then, Meyer said he has determined the rules were not necessary.

" This was a highly debated bill in the Legislature and the language was very clear 
and therefore (we do) not need rules to interpret what the statute meant, " Meyer said 

Nicolet Minerals, a subsidiary of Toronto-based Rio Algom Ltd., is seeking state and 
federal permits to remove 55 million tons of mostly zinc and copper ore from the 
Crandon site.

Backed by environmentalists and other outdoor enthusiasts such as fishing groups, the 
law states that before a company can open a mine in Wisconsin, it must find a mine 
that has operated for 10 years and not polluted and has been closed for 10 years 
without contamination.

Dave Blouin, state mining chair for the Sierra Club, said the administrative rules 
were needed to define the terms in the law to guide regulators in implementing and 
enforcing the law.

" The DNR says its clear. We say it' s clear as mud, " Blouin said.

Ken Fish, director of the Menominee tribe' s treaty rights and mining impact office, 
said the absence of rules opens the doors for a legal battle.

" It' s going to allow a person to arbitrarily make the determination of the meaning 
of what ' significant' pollution is, " Fish said.

Rep. Spencer Black, a Madison Democrat who brought the petition with Richland Center 
Democratic Sen. Kevin Shibilski, said the board' s decision against rulemaking 
prevents the public from being involved in implementing the law.

Black also said the DNR' s decision weakens the mining moratorium law.

By not adopting rules clarifying the law, the DNR " is converting the mining 
moratorium law into a non-moratorium law in order to pave the way for the (Crandon 
mine), " Black said.

Critics of the project fear it will hurt the environment. Proponents say the proposed 
mine would not hurt the environment and would bring jobs to the region.

In January, Nicolet Minerals submitted to state regulators the names of separate mines 
in California, Arizona and Canada that the company claimed met the requirements of the 
moratorium law.

Bill Tans, the DNR' s mining coordinator for the Crandon proposal, said the department 
is reviewing Nicolet' s proposal and expects to release an environmental impact 
statement in August 2000.

Copyright 1999 Associated Press.

Reprinted under the Fair Use doctrine 
of international copyright law.
           Tsonkwadiyonrat (We are ONE Spirit)

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