Conservationists urge lawmakers to drop mining bill

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MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Environmentalists and tribal officials are urging Wisconsin Republicans to drop a bill that would lift the state's nearly 20-year-old moratorium on sulfide mining.

The Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters, Wisconsin Trout Unlimited and Menominee Nation Chairman Gary Besaw held a news conference in the state Capitol ahead of a hearing on the bill Friday before the Assembly labor committee.

League spokesman Ryan Billingham said lifting the moratorium would lead to pollution. Besaw said the bill will ruin the state for generations.

The bill's chief sponsors, Sen. Tom Tiffany and Rep. Rob Hutton, held their own news conference ahead of the hearing, saying lifting the moratorium would attract mining companies to northern Wisconsin and jump-start the region's economy.

The Senate Sporting Heritage, Mining and Forestry Committee approved the bill last week.

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