Speaker Fitzgerald on mine pullout: Senate 'managed to screw it up'

CREATED Mar. 7, 2012 - UPDATED: Mar. 7, 2012

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MADISON - A company that had been proposing a huge iron mine in northern Wisconsin says it's abandoning its plans after the State Senate effectively killed a bill to streamline Wisconsin's mine permitting process. 

"This was a no brainer.  We managed to screw it up," Assembly speaker Jeff Fitzgerald told Newsradio 620 WTMJ's "Midday with Charlie Sykes."

He says leadership tried to negotiate with Senator Dale Schultz, the GOP holdout who gave Democrats the vote they needed to stop the bill. 

"We knew we moved about as far as we could, and still have the mining company come and create these 1,000 jobs."

Fitzgerald's brother, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, named individual Democrats in the State Senate that he believed might give the vote needed to pass the bill if Schultz wouldn't.

"In the end, Tim Carpenter, Spencer Coggs, I never really put much stock in Larson, but maybe Bob Wirch, maybe one of those guys were going to be there, and they weren't," Fitzgerald told Sykes.

"There was some real indications that one of these Democrats was going to vote with us and move the bill forward."

Environmentalists had opposed the bill, which they believe would have weakened Wisconsin's environmental standards.

The company proposing the mine wanted a hard timeline for approval, saying it needed some certainty in the process.

The following is a statement from Gov. Walker's spokesman, Cullen Werwie:

"We are disappointed mining reform that could have created thousands of jobs was not able to be passed by the State Senate. Ultimately the State Assembly, the mining company interested in a project in northern Wisconsin, DNR, and others offered numerous compromise proposals and made many concessions. Unfortunately due to the actions of State Senators who refused to reasonably and responsibly work in good faith with all interested parties, they ultimately shut down the opportunity to create thousands of jobs. It’s frustrating that these Senators stood in the way of a major job creation project in an area of Wisconsin that is economically distressed.

"While it seems like a longshot there is still time for those who opposed mining reform to change their mind. We are still hopeful that in the future we can provide certainty to the mine permitting process so that we can get more Wisconsinites back to work. "

Messages left for Sen. Carpenter were not returned.