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Digging for jobs: Walker visits Scot Forge to tout mining bill

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Catherine W. Idzerda
February 18, 2012
— Mining in northern Wisconsin means more jobs statewide and more business for companies such as Scot Forge in Clinton.

That was Gov. Scott Walker’s message to a group of workers at the employee-owned business Friday.


Walker was in Clinton as part of a daylong tour of businesses that would benefit from a proposed mine in northern Wisconsin.


Gogebic Taconite of Hurley has proposed a $1.5 billion open pit mine in Ashland and Iron counties. In June of last year, the company said it wouldn’t move forward with its plans until it had some assurance an environmental review wouldn’t bog down the process at every step.


At Scot Forge, a fascinated Walker watched employees pull massive hunks of steel from a two-story forge while other staff members took photos with smart phones and cameras.


In his speech welcoming the governor, Scot Forge Chief Operating Official Ron Hahn said the company was fortunate enough to add 103 jobs in the last few years.


“A lot of that is attributable to growth in the mining industry,” Hahn said.


Hahn called Scot Forge a “real-life example” of what mining means to the state.


Walker told employees, managers and visitors that manufacturing had been—and would be—the key to the state’s economic success.


“The reason I’m here today and the reason I’m going to be at another business today is to draw attention to the fact that when we talk about the mining legislation that’s in the state Capitol right now, we should remember that Wisconsin, better than any other state in the country should be able to do mining in a safe and environmentally sound way that’s streamlined so we can create more jobs,” he said.


Wisconsin’s state flag, its state seal and even its state animal, the badger, all testify to the state’s mining history. One of the figures on the flag is a miner, and inside the seal is a pickaxe.


A mining bill has passed the state Assembly, but a group of moderate Republicans in the Senate said changes are needed before they would be willing to vote for the proposal, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Friday.


The Republicans have a 17-to-16 majority in the Senate, and they need all their party’s votes to passing most any mining bill.


Walker thinks compromise is possible.


“For us, I think the bottom line is we just want to have a mining bill that will get passed this session,” Walker said. “I think after talking with folks in the Senate after the bill passed the Assembly, I think there’s a willingness to work together.”


Which version of the mining bill does he prefer?


“We don’t have a line in the sand regarding an exact version,” Walker said. “Our line in the sand is that we need a bill because we don’t want to leave jobs on the table.”



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