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Congresswoman Betty McCollum

Representing the 4th District of Minnesota

McCollum Statement on Interior Department's Decision to reinstate sulfide-ore mining leases adjacent to the BWCA

May 3, 2018
Press Release

In his testimony before the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee last month, I asked Secretary Zinke about the threat of sulfide-ore copper mining in the watershed of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Secretary Zinke affirmed that some places are too precious to mine, but it seems as though the watershed of the BWCA does not qualify. Yesterday, the Bureau of Land Management officially reinstated two foreign-owned mining leases on the doorstep of the BWCA, along a river that flows directly into the wilderness.

This decision is an attack on our treasured public lands and opens the door for toxic mining to cause irreparable damage to the watershed. Studies have shown that 92 percent of sulfide-ore copper mines operating in the United States have experienced failures that impact water quality. The environmental and economic consequences would be devastating if acid mine drainage polluted the BWCA’s waterways, aquatic life, and forests.

The Trump administration has shown time and again that they put the profits of mining and fossil fuel companies before the preservation of the American people’s natural treasures.  This decision is a betrayal of every Minnesotan and American who believes in conservation and preserving our natural resources for the benefit of future generations.