MADISON (WKOW)-- Just a few weeks into the legislative session there's already been a lot of debate over a proposed iron ore mine in Northeast Wisconsin.
Earlier this week lawmakers held a hearing for the mining bill to hear public testimony. For twelve full hours they heard people's opinions on the bill, but at the end there were some people that still didn't get a chance to speak. That's why organizers held this rally on Saturday afternoon.
They came in droves, playing music, singing songs and speaking out against recent legislation that would streamline the process for opening iron mines.
"The bill that's before the legislature now sets a very dangerous precedent for our state's environmental laws," says Carl Sack of Madison Action for Mining Alternatives.
Many people argue that mining will only damage the environment, bringing very little to the local economy.
Others disagree calling for the mining company to come in and create jobs to strengthen the local economy. The company looking to build the mine, Gogebic Taconite, says hundreds of jobs will be created and the environmental side effects will be next to nothing. Demonstrators say they don't believe it.
"Today we face a common enemy the destructive effects of corporate mining. It's a powerful enemy that would poison our water and rob us of our very future," says Mark Rosenthal of the Midwest Coalition Against Lethal Mining.
It's a future they say is in wildlife tourism and environmental protection, with mining being a threat to that already thriving industry. It's one of the many reasons why 21 environmental groups from across the state are banding together to protest mining.
A few lawmakers are visiting the area where this proposed iron mine would be built. Demonstrators were happy to see it, but they said it's only the beginning. There is much more they need to do to understand this group's cause.
The issue of mining was carried over from last year's session. Republicans say this year's bill, Senate Bill 1, is a strong improvement. Democrats however, argue the two bills are nearly identical.