Wisconsin lawmakers approve bill clearing way for iron ore mine

MILWAUKEE Fri Mar 8, 2013 11:24am EST

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (C) listens to National Governors Association (NGA) Executive Committee Vice Chair and Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin (L) and Chairman, Delaware Governor Jack Markell (R), speak after meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, December 4, 2012. REUTERS/Larry Downing

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (C) listens to National Governors Association (NGA) Executive Committee Vice Chair and Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin (L) and Chairman, Delaware Governor Jack Markell (R), speak after meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, December 4, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Larry Downing

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MILWAUKEE (Reuters) - Wisconsin's Republican-controlled state Assembly on Thursday approved a bill that would clear the way for a possible $1.5 billion iron ore mine in the far northwest corner of the state by streamlining environmental regulations.

Representatives voted 58-39 along party lines to approve the bill that would set a 420-day limit for the state Department of Natural Resources to approve or deny a permit for iron ore mining.

The state Senate narrowly approved the bill in February. It goes next to Republican Governor Scott Walker, who supports the legislation.

Opponents had said the measure will allow pollution of lakes, streams and groundwater, and reduce air quality for the sake of jobs and the economy. Supporters said it would protect the environment and allow projects that could create jobs.

(Reporting by Brendan O'Brien; Editing by Mary Wisniewski and Greg McCune)

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