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McCollum Secures Funding Restriction on Mine Plan near Boundary Waters

July 1, 2021
Press Release
FY 22 Interior-Environment Appropriations bill includes Vice Chair McCollum’s provisions to protect the Boundary Waters, repurpose mining waste

Congresswoman Betty McCollum (DFL-Minn.), Vice Chair of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee, released the following statement today after the House Appropriations Committee advanced the subcommittee’s FY 2022 funding bill:

“This bill, written by Chair Pingree, is an excellent example of focusing on protecting our public lands, meeting the needs of Native American communities, and advancing environmental justice,” Rep. McCollum said. “The bill includes my provision to ensure that toxic sulfide-ore copper mining does not poison the pristine waters of the federal Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. As water becomes a critical commodity, these waters are a valuable resource – vital to our national security and environmental sustainability. As the Biden administration reviews decisions made by the prior administration that would have put this national treasure at risk, I’m proud to secure language in this bill that ensures no funds are spent to review or approve a mine plan in the Rainy River Watershed.

“Chair Pingree and Ranking Member Joyce have also continued our nonpartisan tradition in the Interior Subcommittee of investing in our federal trust and treaty responsibilities to Indian Country, and I am proud to support the substantial increases in this bill for the health, safety, and education in Native American communities. I’m also pleased to see my proposed increase of $5 million for Save America’s Treasures, which just a few years ago had been eliminated entirely by Republicans. This bill invests in the arts and humanities and preserving our cultural and natural resources.”

In total, the draft bill includes $43.4 billion in regular appropriations, an increase of $7.3 billion – 20.2 percent – above 2021. There is also an additional $2.45 billion of funding for fire suppression.

The legislation:

  • Creates good-paying American jobs through investments in renewable energy development, including offshore wind, and a national initiative to reclaim abandoned mines and cap orphan oil and gas wells
  • Confronts the climate crisis by expanding environmental enforcement efforts, creating a Civilian Climate Corps, and launching a renewed focus on land and water conservation
  • Supports Native American families by investing in a strong and resilient Indian Country, including through education and health care programs
  • Dramatically expands environmental justice efforts to address unacceptable pollution in communities of color
  • Honors the federal government’s responsibilities to Native Americans

Vice Chair McCollum worked to include the following provisions in the bill:  

  • Protecting the Boundary Waters: The bill includes language in support of the Stipulated Settlement Agreement filed May 10, 2021 in which the Bureau of Land Management will reconsider its May 1, 2020 decision authorizing the extension of thirteen Twin Metals prospecting permits after conducting an Environmental Assessment, completing an effects determination and, as appropriate, requesting initiation of Endangered Species Act Section 7 consultation, and during the interim will not authorize any surface disturbing activities for the thirteen prospecting permits. Additionally, Section 435 prohibits funds to be used to review or approve a mine plan in the Rainy River Watershed during Fiscal Year 2022. Congresswoman McCollum joined the Committee in voting down a proposed amendment that would have removed this provision from the bill.
  • Save America’s Treasures: Secured a $5 million increase for the Save America’s Treasures Grant program, to $30 million, to preserve nationally significant historic properties and collections and ensure that properties and collections representing indigenous cultures, including Native Hawaiian culture, are considered for the grants to provide a richer and more diverse portrait of the nation’s past.
  • Mississippi River Science Forum: Language that directs the U.S. Geological Survey to host a Mississippi River Science Forum with relevant federal agencies to share current science, identify data gaps and areas of concern, and to prioritize next steps and identify resources needed to advance the goals of improving water quality, restoring habitat and natural systems, improving navigation, eliminating aquatic invasive species, and building local resilience to natural disasters. This report will help inform the Mississippi River Restoration and Resilience Initiative (MRRRI) – which Rep. McCollum has introduced a bill to authorize.
  • Great Lakes Restoration Initiative: $375 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) – $45 million above the enacted level and $35 million above the budget request. $15 million is set aside for tribal related activities.
  • Urban Connections Program: Language in support of the Forest Service Urban Connections Program as a model for building strong relationships with diverse youth, interested citizens, urban leaders, interagency partners, and non-governmental organizations – and directing the U.S. Forest Service to report back within 90 days on a strategy to expand the program nationwide.
  • Forest Service International Programs: $20 million – $4.6 million above the enacted level and the budget request. The Committee encourages the Forest Service to continue working with partner organizations in Guatemala on sustainable forest management, forest health, forest landscape restoration and reforestation, community forestry, urban forestry, and youth conservation corps, that support sustainable natural resource management for human and habitat well-being, and economic development to provide viable job opportunities.
  • Critical Minerals: $91.2 million for the Mineral Resources Program which includes $10.6 million to support the Earth Mapping Resources Initiative, Earth MRI; $21.3 million for mine waste research and to characterize mine waste as a potential source for critical minerals; $6.99 million to locate and forecast critical minerals; and $6.7 million for supply chain research. This funding level allows USGS to work with Federal and State partners to modernize our understanding of the subsurface and improve the topographic, geological, and geophysical mapping of the United States.
  • Indian Country: $4 billion for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Indian Education, and Office of the Special Trustee, an increase of $507 million above the FY 2021 enacted level.
  • Urban Indian Health: $200.5 million for Urban Indian Health, $100.5 million above the budget request and $137.8 million above the enacted level. Section 434 allows the Secretary of Health and Human Services to allow Urban Indian Organizations to use grant or contract funds for minor renovations to facilities, or construction or expansion of facilities, to meet certain standards.
  • Tribal Epidemiology Centers: $14 million for Tribal Epidemiology Centers, which played an important role in documenting and combating coronavirus in Native communities. Funds will ensure further data collection, evaluation, and research to improve the health of Native Americans.
  • Carcieri Fix: The bill includes language previously sponsored by Congresswoman McCollum in the 114th Congress to clarify Congressional intent that all federally recognized tribal nations have equal right to have the Secretary of the Interior place land into trust to restore their homelands and support tribal self-governance.

The bill next heads to the House Floor for a vote.

A summary of the bill is here. The text of the draft bill is here. The bill report is here. In keeping with the Appropriations Committee’s commitment to transparency, information on Community Project Funding in the bill is here.