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Congresswoman Betty McCollum

Representing the 4th District of Minnesota

Chair McCollum, Chairs Grijalva and Lowenthal Demand Answers on Trump Administration Advancing Mining Near Boundary Waters Wilderness

March 1, 2019
Press Release

In a new letter sent today, Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), Chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Chair of the Committee on Natural Resources, and Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.), Chair of the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources ask Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and Acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt to explain unusual actions their respective agencies took to advance the construction of a copper sulfide mine on the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) in Minnesota.

The letter follows one McCollum and Grijalva sent on Nov. 5, 2018 questioning the Trump administration’s cancellation of a required environmental review of Twin Metals. Today’s letter, available here, lays out a full list of documents being sought, including conversations between the agencies and the White House on the renewal of Twin Metals’ leases or withdrawal of the environmental assessment.

The lawmakers write in part:

We reject your assertion that no new scientific information was found during the nearly 20-month period the Superior National Forest held public meetings, solicited comments, and worked to prepare the withdrawal package. Rather, the abrupt cancellation implies that the mounting evidence against mining that emerged did not support your position, and so, you instead chose to waste taxpayer funds, ignore public comments, and suppress scientific information rather than have this evidence revealed to the public.… By halting the environmental review and reinstating Twin Metals’ leases, your administration blatantly ignored scientific and economic evidence, the public record dating back fifty years, and overwhelming public opposition to mining in the watershed, and reneged on public pledges to Members of Congress.

Today’s letter comes after a dramatic policy reversal by the Department of the Interior that led to the reinstatement of 50-year-old mineral leases next to the BWCAW held by a Chilean mining conglomerate. That reversal included the abrupt cancellation of a U.S. Forest Service environmental review. The leases’ reinstatement ignores decades of public opposition to mining in the area based on overwhelming scientific evidence that mining would be detrimental to surrounding plants, animals, watersheds, and human health.

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