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Bill aims to strengthen mining

Cambensy introduces measure this week

State Rep. Sara Cambensy, D-Marquette

MARQUETTE — A state legislator from Marquette is taking a page out of Minnesota’s playbook in order to strengthen and develop sustainable mining practices in Michigan.

State Rep. Sara Cambensy, D-Marquette, introduced a bill Thursday that would create a 15-member Committee of Michigan’s Mining Future, according to a release from Cambensy’s office.

“When our communities lost nearly 400 high-paying jobs with the idling of the Empire Mine in 2016, many community members felt Michigan dropped the ball on understanding what the industry needed from elected leaders in Lansing, as well as Washington,” said Cambensy. “Shortly after, I called together a small group of previous legislators and industry leaders to begin looking at how Minnesota was able to minimize the bust and boom cycle of mining within its state.”

The committee would be composed of governor-appointed representatives from various state mining operations, environmental nonprofits, Native American tribes and the United Steelworkers union, along with officials from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, and the Michigan departments of Natural Resources and Environmental Quality. It would be charged with making “advisory, legislative and policy recommendations to strengthen and develop sustainable mining practices in Michigan.”

Cambensy said she hopes to bring the same level of commitment to Michigan as the Governor’s Committee on Minnesota’s Mining Future did in that state starting in 2004.

The Minnesota committee was charged with the development of a long-term comprehensive, strategic plan focused on ferrous, non-ferrous and aggregate mining industry needs, such as infrastructure, transportation, energy, applied research, environmental quality, government policies, taxation, rural development, mining legacy cleanup funds and communications and public outreach strategies.

“Only by bringing to the table a diverse group of people from the industry, state departments, environmental groups, tribal members and labor, can Michigan once again show its commitment as a leader in 21st century mining practices,” continued Cambensy. “With mining exploration on the rise again in Michigan, now is the time to proactively work together on Michigan’s mining future, so we are well-positioned to meet the challenges and take advantage of the opportunities that lie ahead.”

The bill has sponsors from both sides of the aisle, including 108th District Rep. Beau LaFave, R-Iron Mountain, and 110th District Rep. Greg Markkanen, R-Houghton. Attempts to reach LaFave and Markkanen were not returned by press time today.

The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation.

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