Wis. Bill Would Prevent Locals from Stopping Blasting

Posted at: 10/17/2013 5:52 PM
Updated at: 10/17/2013 9:27 PM

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - A Wisconsin legislator has proposed a bill that would scale back local governments' ability to regulate sand mines and blasting.

Republican Sen. Tom Tiffany's bill would ensure local governments can't regulate sand mines using their so-called police powers - their ability to regulate health, safety and welfare. They could still regulate the mines through zoning ordinances, however.

Reached by phone Thursday, Tiffany said the legislation relates to sand mining in Wisconsin, but the issue is much broader than one industry. Tiffany said the bill would insure local governments use their land and road use authority properly.

The measure also would prohibit locals from regulating blasting activities.

Sen. Bob Jauch (D-Poplar) expressed vehement opposition to the bill, saying it was written by mining companies and attempts to overrule a unanimous Supreme Court decision in favor of such laws.

"The legislation puts a stranglehold on elected officials in small communities as they try to responsibly regulate the fast growing frac sand industry," Jauch said in a press release.  "Apparently, the authors believe that the mining companies know better than locally elected officials what is good for the citizens of the area."

The bill comes as Ashland County officials consider an ordinance controlling blasting work on a proposed iron mine.

Tiffany is looking for co-sponsors to sign onto the bill by Monday. Tiffany said he hoped to have a hearing on the legislation next week.

The Sierra Club's Wisconsin chapter is criticizing the bill as an assault on local control. A message left with the Wisconsin Counties Association wasn't immediately returned.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)