March 23, 2018
The sand-processing plant, which would be located between Tomah and Black River Falls, is sought by Meteor Timber, a company owned by Atlanta, Ga.-based Timberland Investment Resources. The project would destroy about 16 acres of rare hardwood wetlands.For the second time in as many months, the GOP-controlled Assembly has approved a break for a proposed frac sand mining operation whose owners contributed $12,000 to the state Republican Party last year.
Late last week, the Assembly added an amendment to Senate Bill 615, a proposal unrelated to the frac sand project, which would allow the company to move ahead with filling the rare wetlands while the state permit is being reviewed in a legal challenge by environmental groups. The bill and amendment now go back to the Republican-controlled Senate, which may take up the measures next week.
Last month, the Assembly added the amendment, which was sought by Meteor, to another measure unrelated to the frac sand project and sent it to the Senate, which declined to take it up.
Neither Meteor nor Timberland Investment Resources employees have contributed to current lawmakers or Republican Gov. Scott Walker, but Timberland made a $12,000 corporate contribution last July to the state Republican Party.
In addition, attorneys for Weld Riley, an Eau Claire law firm that represents Meteor, contributed about $31,400 to legislative and statewide candidates, including $20,300 to Walker between January 2010 and June 2017.
John Behling, of Eau Claire, a Weld Riley attorney, is also a Walker appointee to the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents.