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Officials worry plan could hurt economic development
An environmental dispute pitting economic growth advocates against a Wisconsin Indian tribe could heat up in the next few months.
At the center of the dispute is a plan by the Forest County Potawatomi Nation to impose air quality standards in northeast Wisconsin, potentially curbing the expansion of smokestack industries in the process. Although Gov. Tommy Thompson, several state lawmakers and business leaders oppose the plan, federal regulators could give it their blessing as soon as this fall.
And the issue could receive renewed attention as early as April, when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) tentatively plans to hold public hearings on the plan in northern Wisconsin.
Tribal officials contend they're only trying to preserve the pristine natural resources on their nearly 12,000 acres of reservation land, most of it in Forest County. Opponents point out that the plan would increase regulatory burdens on business and limit industrial development within a 62-mile radius of the reservation, an area that includes Rhinelander, Crandon, Tomahawk and Merrill.
COULD IMPACT METRO AREAS
Opponents also argue that the …