WisPolitics report to subscribers: -- The company seeking to develop an iron ore mine in Ashland and Iron counties spent 685 hours and nearly $115,000 lobbying lawmakers during the first six months of the year.
According to its GAB filings, Gogebic Taconite spent three quarters of its effort -- nearly 514 hours -- specifically on mining issues, the most of any group to lobby on mining between January and June.
The remaining portion of Gogebic's lobbying effort was spent on economic development issues. The company began touting the mine late last year, pledging it would generate millions in economic development and thousands of high-wage jobs for the economically struggling region.
But Gogebic announced in June that it was putting the project on hold pending legislative changes to state mining regulations. A bill that would have expedited state permitting for the iron mine was the subject of considerable debate during the contentious spring legislative floor session, but was never formally introduced.
Gov. Scott Walker, however, says such a measure is a top priority for the fall, and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, (Aka Baby Cakes) has said Dem Sen. Bob Jauch -- who represents the area -- vowed to work with GOP lawmakers on the legislation if it was moved to the fall floor session.
Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce also lobbied heavily on mining issues, according to the GAB's lobbying database, with 450 hours on mining regulation in the first six months of the year. That represented 21 percent of WMC's total lobbying effort during that span, the largest single topic lobbied by the business group. WMC spent a total of 2,144 hours and $193,244 on lobbying from January through June.
Environmental groups lobbied on mining issues as well, including 163 hours by Clean Wisconsin Inc. -- 12 percent of its total effort -- and nearly 113 hours, or 7 percent of its six-month total, by the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters. The Sierra Club's state chapter reported three hours lobbied on the topic.
The St. Croix Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin reported five hours lobbied on iron mining law changes, while Moline, Ill.-based Deere & Company spent its entire lobbying effort -- only nine hours and $592 -- on iron mining.
Other groups lobbying on mining issues that didn't hit the minimum reporting threshold included: the Forest County Potawatomi Community, the Stockbridge-Munsee Community, Operating Engineers Local 139, Iron Workers District Council of the North Central States, Construction Business Group, Wisconsin State Council of Carpenters, the Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce & Industry and the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation.