2011 - 2012 LEGISLATURE
February 16, 2012 - Introduced by Senators Galloway, Vukmir, Zipperer,
Wanggaard, Darling, S. Fitzgerald, Lasee, Lazich, Leibham, Kedzie and
Grothman, cosponsored by Representatives J. Fitzgerald, Suder, Williams,
Tiffany, Honadel, August, Ballweg, Bernier, Bies, Brooks, Craig, Endsley,
Farrow, Jacque, Kapenga, Kaufert, Kerkman, Kestell, Kleefisch, Klenke,
Knilans, Knodl, Knudson, Kooyenga, Kramer, Krug, Kuglitsch, T. Larson,
LeMahieu, Litjens, Loudenbeck, Marklein, Meyer, Mursau, Murtha, Nass,
Nerison, Nygren, A. Ott, J. Ott, Petersen, Petrowski, Petryk, Pridemore,
Ripp, Rivard, Severson, Spanbauer, Steineke, Stone, Strachota, Stroebel,
Tauchen, Thiesfeldt, Tranel, Van Roy, Vos, Weininger and Wynn. Referred
to Joint Committee on Finance.
1An Act to repeal
30.025 (1e) (title) and (a), 107.001 (2) and 293.01 (8); to
2renumber and amend
30.025 (1e) (b), 30.123 (8) (c) and 87.30 (2);
20.370 (2) (gh), 20.455 (1) (gh), 20.566 (7) (e), 20.566 (7) (v), 25.46 (7), 29.604 (4) 4
(intro.), 29.604 (4) (c) (intro.), 30.025 (1m) (intro.), 30.025 (1m) (c), 30.025 (1s) 5
(a), 30.025 (2), 30.025 (2g) (b) (intro.), 30.025 (4), 30.12 (3m) (c) (intro.), 30.133 6
(2), 30.19 (4) (c) (intro.), 30.195 (2) (c) (intro.), 44.40 (5), 70.375 (1) (as), 70.375 7
(1) (bm), 70.38 (2), 70.395 (1e), 70.395 (2) (dc) 1., 70.395 (2) (dc) 4., 70.395 (2) 8
(fm), 70.395 (2) (h) 1., 107.001 (1), 107.01 (intro.), 107.01 (2), 107.02, 107.03, 9
107.04, 107.11, 107.12, 107.20 (1), 107.20 (2), 107.30 (8), 107.30 (15), 107.30 10
(16), 160.19 (12), 196.491 (3) (a) 3. b., 196.491 (4) (b) 2., 281.65 (2) (a), 281.75 11
(17) (b), 287.13 (5) (e), 289.35, 289.62 (2) (g) 2. and 6., 292.01 (1m), chapter 293 12
(title), 293.01 (5), 293.01 (7), 293.01 (9), 293.01 (12), 293.01 (18), 293.01 (25), 13
293.21 (1) (a), 293.25 (2) (a), 293.25 (4), 293.37 (4) (b), 293.47 (1) (b), 293.50 (1) 14
(b), 293.50 (2) (intro.), 293.50 (2) (a), 293.50 (2) (b), 293.51 (1), 293.65 (3) (a),
293.65 (3) (b), 293.86, chapter 295 (title), 295.16 (4) (f), 299.85 (7) (a) 2. and 4., 2
299.95, 323.60 (5) (d) 3. and 710.02 (2) (d); and to create
20.370 (2) (gi), 29.604 3
(7m), 30.025 (4m), 31.23 (3) (e), 87.30 (2) (b), 293.01 (12m), subchapter III of 4
chapter 295 [precedes 295.40] and 323.60 (1) (gm) of the statutes; relating to:
5regulation of ferrous metallic mining and related activities, procedures for
6obtaining approvals from the Department of Natural Resources for the
7construction of utility facilities, making an appropriation, and providing
Analysis by the Legislative Reference Bureau
This bill makes changes in the laws relating to the regulation of iron mining and
procedures for utility facility approvals.
Procedures for utility facility approvals
Under current law, with certain exceptions, a person may not begin the
construction of certain utility facilities before the Public Service Commission (PSC)
has issued to the person either a certificate of public convenience and necessity
(CPCN) or a certificate authorizing the person to transact public utility business
(PSC certificate). Current law also provides that a utility facility that is required to
obtain a PSC certificate and that is required to obtain one or more permits from the
Department of Natural Resources (DNR), such as a permit allowing the placement
of a structure in navigable waters, must use a procedure that requires the utility
facility to submit only one application to DNR for all of the required DNR permits
(combined permit procedure) rather than submitting separate applications to DNR
for each permit. Current law also specifies that the applicant under the combined
permit procedure must submit the combined application for permits to DNR at the
same time that the applicant files an application for a PSC certificate.
This bill makes the combined permit procedure optional and allows a utility
facility to submit separate applications to DNR for each required permit. Under the
bill, if the utility facility does not use the combined permit procedure, it is not
required to file a DNR permit application at the same time that it files an application
for a PSC certificate.
Current law requires a person proposing to construct a large electric generating
facility or high-voltage transmission line (facility) to provide DNR with an
engineering plan or project plan for the facility at least 60 days before filing an
application with PSC for a CPCN. Within 30 days thereafter, DNR must provide the
person with a listing of each DNR approval that appears to be required for the
construction or operation of the facility. Current law requires the person to file the
application for these approvals within 20 days after receiving the listing from DNR.
This bill eliminates this 20-day deadline and also specifies that the person must only
apply for those approvals identified in the listing that are applicable.
Iron mining, generally
Under current law, DNR regulates mining for metallic minerals. The laws
under which DNR regulates metallic mining apply to mining for ferrous minerals
(iron) and mining for nonferrous minerals, such as copper or zinc.
This bill creates new statutes for regulating iron mining and modifies the
current laws regulating metallic mining so that they cover only mining for
Under current law, a person who proposes to mine for metallic minerals must
obtain a mining permit and any other permit, license, certification, or other
authorization (approval) that is required under the environmental and natural
resources laws, other than the mining laws, for example, wastewater discharge
permits, high capacity well approvals, and water quality certifications for wetlands.
Under the bill, a person who proposes to mine for iron ore must obtain an iron
mining permit. The person must obtain some of the approvals under other
environmental and natural resources laws, for example, wastewater discharge
permits, but the bill provides new approvals in lieu of some current approvals, for
example, high capacity well approvals and water quality certifications for wetlands.
The standards and procedures for granting, and the requirements related to, an iron
mining permit and the other new approvals differ in some respects from the
standards, procedures, and requirements under current law, as described below.
Current law requires DNR to promulgate rules specifying standards for
metallic mining and for the reclamation of mining sites. The rules relating to mining
must contain standards for grading and stabilization, backfilling, vegetative cover,
prevention of pollution resulting from leaching of waste materials, and prevention
of significant environmental pollution. The rules relating to reclamation must
contain provisions for disposal of wastes in disposal facilities licensed under the solid
waste laws or otherwise in an environmentally sound manner, for management of
runoff so as to prevent soil erosion, flooding, and water pollution, and for
minimization of disturbance to wetlands. DNR has promulgated rules on these
The bill places standards for iron mining and for the reclamation of iron mining
sites in the statutes, rather than requiring rule-making. The standards in the bill
are similar in many respects to DNR's current rules and are less stringent in other
Application for mining permit
Under current law, a person who intends to apply for a permit for mining for
metallic ore must notify DNR before collecting data intended to be used to support
the application. DNR is required to provide public notice when it receives such a
notification. After considering public comments, DNR must tell the person who filed
the notice of intent what information DNR believes is needed to support an
application for a mining permit. The person must submit the information as soon
as it is in final form.
This bill requires a person who is contemplating a mining project to provide
DNR with a general description of the proposed mining project. The description must
include a description of the mining site, including the nature, extent, and final
configuration of the proposed excavation and mining site and certain other
information including a map showing the boundaries of the area of land that will be
affected by the mining project and the names of each owner of the mining site. The
bill requires the person to include this information with the bulk sampling plan,
described below, or if the person does not file a bulk sampling plan, with the person's
notification to DNR of the person's intent to apply for an iron mining permit. The bill
requires DNR to conduct a public informational hearing on a proposed mining project
after receiving the general description, either as part of the hearing on approvals
required for bulk sampling or, if there is no such hearing, as a separate hearing.
This bill requires a person who intends to apply for an iron mining permit to
notify DNR of the intention to file the application and requires DNR to meet with the
applicant to make a preliminary assessment of the project's scope, to make an
analysis of alternatives, to identify potential interested persons, and to ensure that
the person intending to apply for an iron mining permit is aware of the approvals that
the person may be required to obtain. DNR must also ensure that the person is aware
of the requirements for submission of an environmental impact report and about the
information DNR will require to enable it to process the application for the mining
permit in a timely manner.
After the meeting, DNR must provide to the applicant any available
information relevant to the potential impact of the project on threatened or
endangered species and historic or cultural resources and any other information
relevant to impacts that are required to be considered in the environmental impact
Under current law, a person who wishes to obtain a permit for metallic mining
must submit an application to DNR that includes a mining plan, a reclamation plan,
information about the owners of the mining site, and information related to the
failure to reclaim mining sites and to any criminal convictions for violations of
environmental laws in the course of mining by persons involved in the proposed
mining. The application must also include evidence that the applicant has applied
for necessary approvals under applicable zoning ordinances and for any approvals
issued by DNR that are necessary to conduct the mining, such as air pollution
permits and wastewater discharge permits.
This bill includes similar provisions for the application for an iron mining
permit, except that the applicant may provide evidence that the applicant will apply,
rather than has applied, for necessary zoning approvals and other approvals issued
The required content of the mining plan for iron mining under the bill is similar
to that required under current statutes and DNR rules. The required content of the
reclamation plan for iron mining is also similar to that required under current law.
DNR's current rules require the applicant for a metallic mining permit to show
that the mining and reclamation will comply with specified minimum standards.
The bill requires showings by the applicant for an iron mining permit that differ in
some ways from DNR's rules. For example, the rules require a demonstration that
water runoff from the mining site will be managed so as to prevent soil erosion to the
extent practicable, flooding, damage to agricultural lands or livestock, damage to
wild animals, pollution of ground or surface waters, damage to public health, and
threats to public safety. The bill requires a showing that water runoff from an iron
mining site will be managed in compliance with any approval that regulates
construction site erosion control or storm water management.
Environmental impact statement
Current law requires DNR to prepare an environmental impact statement
(EIS) for every proposed metallic mine. An EIS contains detailed information about
the environmental impact of a proposed project, including any adverse
environmental effects that cannot be avoided if the proposal is implemented,
alternatives to the proposed project, the beneficial aspects of the proposal, and the
economic advantages and disadvantages of the proposal. For a metallic mining
project, current law requires a description of significant long-term and short-term
impacts, including impacts after the mining has ended, on tourism, employment,
schools, social services, the tax base, the local economy, and "other significant
This bill requires DNR to prepare an EIS for every proposed iron mine. The bill
requires DNR to include a description of significant impacts on most of the same
matters as under current metallic mining law.
Under current law, when a person applies for a permit or other approval for
which DNR is required to complete an EIS, DNR is generally authorized to require
the applicant to prepare an environmental impact report (EIR) that discloses
environmental impacts of the proposed project to assist DNR in preparing the EIS.
Current law authorizes DNR to enter into an agreement with a person considering
applying to DNR for approval of a project that is large, complex, or environmentally
sensitive to provide preapplication services necessary to evaluate the environmental
impact of the project and to expedite the anticipated preparation of an EIS for the
The bill requires the applicant for a mining permit to prepare an EIR.
The bill requires the applicant for a mining permit to submit the EIR with the
application for the mining permit.
Current law authorizes DNR to conduct the processes related to an EIS jointly
with other agencies who have responsibilities related to a proposed project.
The bill requires DNR to conduct its environmental review process for a
proposed iron mine jointly with other state agencies and requires the preparation of
one joint EIS. The bill requires DNR to conduct its environmental review process
jointly with any federal or local agency that consents to a joint process.
Current law requires DNR to hold at least one informational meeting on a
preliminary environmental report for a mining project before it issues the EIS. This
bill does not require such an informational meeting.
Current law requires DNR to hold a hearing on an application for a metallic
mining permit. The hearing includes both a contested case hearing, with testimony
under oath and the opportunity for cross-examination, and a public informational
hearing. The law requires that the hearing cover the EIS and cover all other
approvals issued by DNR that are required for the mining project, to the extent
possible. Under current law, the provisions related to notice, hearing, and comment
in the metallic mining law apply to any other needed approval, unless the applicant
fails to make an application for an approval in time for it to be considered at the
hearing on the mining permit.
This bill requires DNR to hold a public informational hearing for a proposed
iron mining project. The hearing does not include a contested case hearing. The
hearing must cover the mining permit, the EIS, and all other approvals issued by
DNR that are required for the mining project, unless the application for an approval
is filed too late to allow the approval to be considered at the mining hearing. Under
the bill, the provisions related to notice, hearing, and comment in the iron mining law
apply to any other needed approval.
Deadlines; automatic approval
Current law does not specify a time, after the application for a mining permit
is filed, within which DNR must act on a metallic mining permit application. It does
require the mining hearing to be held between 120 days and 180 days after DNR
issues the EIS and requires DNR to act on the permit within 90 days after the
completion of the record for the public hearing.
The bill requires DNR to act on an application for an iron mining permit no
more than 360 days after the application is considered to be complete. Under the bill,
if the applicant submits the application for another approval within 60 days after the
application for the mining permit is considered to be complete, DNR must also act
on the application for that approval by the 360-day deadline. If the applicant files
the application for another approval more than 60 days after the application for the
mining permit is considered to be complete, the deadline for DNR's action on the
approval is extended by the number of days the application is late.
If DNR does not act within the deadline for acting on the application for an iron
mining permit, the application is automatically approved.
Under the bill, the application for a mining permit is considered to be complete
on the 30th day after DNR receives it, unless, before that day DNR provides the
applicant with written notification that the application does not include a mining
plan, reclamation plan, or waste site feasibility study and plan of operation that
contain the types of information required under the bill or that the applicant has not
submitted an EIR. DNR may not consider the quality of the information provided
in determining whether the application is complete.
The bill authorizes DNR to request additional information needed to process
the application for a mining permit after the application is considered to be complete,
but it may not delay the determination that the application is complete based on a
request for additional information.
Grant or denial of mining permit