MADISON - Wisconsin is one step closer to a new mine in the Northwoods. The controversial plan passed the state Senate Wednesday night, but it doesn't pass the smell test for state Democrats.
With a slim one vote margin, the contentious mining bill cleared its most important hurdle - the Wisconsin Senate.
Gov. Scott Walker is declaring victory after a nearly year-long battle.
"This is a big victory for people looking for work in this state," Gov. Walker said.
Every Senate Democrat, and even one Republican voted against it.
The proposed mine is 600 miles northwest of Milwaukee in the Bad River Watershed.
Native Americans who live upstream are opposed to the mine on environmental grounds - saying the waste would pollute the water supply.
"This is not the silver bullet that Republicans think it is. One solution I think would work is make the legislators drink the bottled water from down river. If they believe water protections are there they should serve the water down river from the pit mines in the Legislature," said Graeme Zielinski with the Democratic Party of Wisconsin.
Gov. Walker argued the mine will be an economic boom to the region.
"There's going to be tremendous benefits all across the state. 3,000 jobs just in the construction of the mine, about 2,800 permanent jobs. This is one of many steps we're taking to put people to work," Gov. Walker said.
"It would be a good thing if Scott Walker showed some leadership on jobs in Wisconsin. This is going to create jobs down the road. This isn't the solution to Wisconsin's jobs crisis that Scott Walker created," Zielinski said.
The mining bill next heads to the Assembly, where it will be debated next week. It is expected to pass easily with the strong Republican majority.
Gov. Walker says he will sign the bill when it comes to his desk.
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