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McCollum Introduces Bipartisan Legislation to Permanently Protect the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness

January 15, 2020
Press Release

Congresswoman Betty McCollum (DFL-Minn.), introduced legislation today to permanently protect the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) from sulfide-ore copper mining. The Boundary Waters Wilderness Protection and Pollution Prevention Act, H.R. 5598, protects 234,328 acres of federal wilderness lands and waters.  

“Visitors from all over the world, all Americans, and especially Minnesotans who are proud to have it in our backyard know the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is a special place,” Rep. McCollum said. “From the pristine, clear waters, to the stillness and quiet that is nearly unmatched anywhere else in the nation – this place is a refuge and source of adventure for many. The BWCAW is intact today because of more than a century of protections. We have an obligation to continue this legacy. This bill establishes federal, permanent protections for this vulnerable and fragile ecosystem to ensure it is not damaged and polluted from sulfide-ore copper mining.”

“This administration has signed off on some of the most destructive polluter giveaways in our nation’s history, and it obviously has no intention of stopping,” said House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raul Grijalva (AZ-03). “If we don’t draw the line at the Boundary Waters, there is no line – we have to fight this, and we have to win. Building a mine near a sensitive wilderness area shows exactly whose side President Trump is on and how his government will operate unless Congress and the American people put a stop to it.”

“In Florida, we understand that unfettered industrial development is incompatible with our tourism based economy and our ecological treasures,” said Rep. Francis Rooney (FL-19). “Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is as important to its citizens as Everglades National Park is to Floridians. It is critical to halt mine-related leasing that threatens the Boundary Waters area. I am glad  to join my colleague, Rep. McCollum, to protect this national treasure.”

“The Boundary Waters are a special place for Minnesotans and all Americans,” said Rep. Dean Phillips (MN-03). “Many throughout the country have a Boundary Waters memory, and those stories inspire our collective stewardship of our natural resources. That is why I am so proud to support this bipartisan bill, and I am thankful to Rep. McCollum for her leadership, and for the Minnesotans who are working to defend our public lands to ensure that Minnesota's Boundary Waters can be enjoyed by future generations.”

“The science is clear: copper sulfide mining is directly linked to significant environmental and public health impacts,” said Rep. Alan Lowenthal (CA-47). “Despite this incontrovertible link, the Trump Administration reversed an Obama-era decision and reinstated mining leases right outside the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Passage of Representative McCollum’s bill, the Boundary Waters Wilderness Protection and Pollution Prevention Act, is necessary to ensure that the Boundary Waters, local residents, and visitors do not have to worry about the toxic pollution associated with a copper sulfide mine.”

“It seems like just yesterday when I canoed the Boundary Waters as a teen,” said Rep. Fred Upton (MI-06). “It’s important we preserve them for generations to come. I have a deep appreciation for our nation’s natural resources, and I will always work in a bipartisan manner to support and protect our waters, our environment, and America’s wildlife.”


  • The full text of H.R. 5598 can be found here.
  • Additional resources, including a fact sheet and timeline of important events, is available here. 

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