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Congresswoman Betty McCollum

Representing the 4th District of Minnesota

McCollum, Environmental Leaders Oppose Emmer Bill to Mine Next to BWCA

July 27, 2017
Press Release

Congresswoman Betty McCollum (DFL-Minn.) today submitted a letter to the House Natural Resources Committee strongly opposing a legislative proposal by Rep. Tom Emmer that would pave the way for dangerous mining next to Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

“This proposed legislation would undercut existing environmental and public lands laws to allow a Chilean mining conglomerate to conduct dangerous sulfide-ore coppering mining adjacent to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness,” Congresswoman McCollum wrote. “As Members of Congress, we have an obligation to be good stewards of our nation’s natural resources. It would be a grave mistake to allow dangerous mining to take place on the edge of the Boundary Waters, one of the last wild places in our country.”

The House Natural Resources Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources today held a hearing on Emmer’s proposal, which entirely short-circuits a careful environmental review process, recklessly overturns the science-based decisions of the U.S. Forest Service, and attacks existing environmental and public lands laws—all for the benefit of a foreign conglomerate’s mining project. No action was taken on the proposal today, but the full Committee may act on the issue at any time.

McCollum’s letter was accompanied by statements from leaders of some of the nation’s top environmental and public lands advocacy groups opposing Emmer’s bill.

“The Emmer mining bill is yet another dangerous attack on our public lands. Anti-conservation interests are determined to let Congress sell or lease to private profiteers our nation’s natural treasures that are owned by all Americans,” Jamie Williams, President of The Wilderness Society, said. “In addition to opening the door to sulfide-ore mining in the priceless Boundary Waters watershed, the bill undermines bedrock conservation laws including the Antiquities Act, used by Republican and Democratic presidents alike to protect places of historic or natural significance.  The Boundary Waters is one of the original places protected by the 1964 Wilderness Act, is America’s most visited wilderness area, and its waters must be protected from industrial mining.”

"The waters of Lake Superior and the Boundary Waters are a precious national resource, depended on and enjoyed by millions of Americans. Sadly, members of Congress are clearly prioritizing the interests of multinational mining companies over the needs of both local communities and the American public. We strongly oppose these attacks on our public lands and waters, and call on Congressional leaders to do the same,” said Lena Moffitt, Director of Our Wild America Program at the Sierra Club.

"This radical legislation would harm Minnesota's outdoor recreation economy by allowing a foreign mining company to build a risky mine that threatens the health of America's most visited wilderness area in the spectacular Boundary Waters,” Alex Taurel, Deputy Legislative Director of the League of Conservation Voters said. “We urge members of congress to oppose this harmful bill that greenlights a decision on the project based on politics and shamefully cuts out the voices of Minnesotans and people across the country that have engaged in a lengthy public process." 

The full text of Congresswoman McCollum’s letter to the House Natural Resources Committee is available here. A PDF copy of the letter and attachments is available here.