McCollum Floor Remarks Opposing H.R. 3115, Superior National Forest Land Exchange Act
Congresswoman Betty McCollum (DFL-Minn.) delivered the following remarks on the House Floor in opposition to H.R. 3115, the Superior National Forest Land Exchange Act of 2017, which mandates an exchange of more than 6,600 acres in the Superior National Forest to expedite construction of the Polymet mine:
Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to H.R. 3115, the Superior National Forest Land Exchange Act of 2017. This bill mandates the exchange of more than 6,600 acres in the Superior National Forest for the construction of a massive open pit sulfide-ore copper and nickel mine. This project is very controversial, and a majority of Minnesotans oppose toxic sulfide-ore mining because it is a threat to water quality, public lands, and outdoor recreation in our state.
This legislation also raises serious due process concerns. There are four pending lawsuits challenging the land exchange based on existing environmental laws and concerns about appropriate appraisal values. Federal courts are still considering these lawsuits, but this legislation undermines proper judicial review to expedite construction of the Polymet mine.
Finally, this bill ignores the treaty rights of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, a federally recognized tribal nation. The Fond du Lac Reservation is downstream from the proposed mine site. As the Tribal Chairman has told Congress, this mine will “pose a direct threat to the water, and the fish, game and wild rice on which the Tribe depends.” The National Congress of American Indians also strongly opposes this legislation.
H.R. 3115 undermines legal due process, environmental safeguards, and the treaty rights of our Native American brothers and sisters. I urge my colleagues to vote no on H.R. 3115.