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Congresswoman Betty McCollum

Representing the 4th District of Minnesota

McCollum Statement on Securing BWCAW Report Language in Final Spending Package

December 21, 2019
Press Release
Chair McCollum sends letters to Secretary Pompeo and Prime Minister Trudeau reaffirming commitment to upholding the 1909 Boundary Waters Treaty

Congresswoman Betty McCollum (DFL-Minn.), Chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, released the following statement today after President Trump signed the FY 2020 funding package into law:

“With President Trump signing H.R. 1865 and H.R. 1158 into law, we’ve avoided another government shutdown and funded our government sufficiently,” Chair McCollum said. “The funding that’s now signed into law advances House report language that accompanies H.R. 2740, which was passed by the House of Representatives on June 19, 2019. This language directs the State Department to report to Congress on the effects of sulfide-ore copper mining in the Super National Forest on international waters shared with Canada and protected by the 1909 Boundary Waters Treaty. While the White House took aggressive action to ensure similar language was stripped out of the Interior-Environment funding bill – which would have ensured science is used in determining the impact of mining on the Boundary Waters – the language that is included is an important step to keeping our shared international waters clean and safe. I look forward to the report, due to Congress in 60 days, on the potential for cross-boundary pollution resulting from sulfide-ore copper mining in the Superior National Forest.

“To that end, I’ve sent letters to Secretary of State Pompeo as well as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, apprising them of the expected report by the State Department and recommitting to our international partnership and shared obligation to protect these irreplaceable natural resources. These pristine waters belong to all of us, and it’s important we all do our part to keep them intact.”

Background:

  • This language can be found on page 31 of the State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill Report (H.R. 2740), and as follows:

Report Rainy River Drainage Basin.—The Committee supports the 1909 Boundary Waters Treaty and the goal of limiting pollution of boundary waters. The Committee is concerned that decisions made by the United States Department of Agriculture and the United States Department of Interior to approve mineral leases in the Superior National Forest will result in an operational sulfide-ore copper mine that risks polluting the waters within the Rainy River Drainage Basin flowing into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and Ontario, Canada’s Quetico Provincial Park. Therefore, the Committee directs the Department of State to submit a report to the Committees on Appropriations not later than 60 days of enactment of this Act detailing: the characteristics of the Boundary Waters-Quetico ecosystem and the hydrology of the Rainy River Drainage Basin and its impact on Canada; U.S. Government plans to monitor and mitigate the risk of acid mine drainage originating in the Superior National Forest polluting Canadian waters; and United States efforts to inform the Government of Canada on the potential for cross-boundary pollution resulting from sulfide-ore copper mining in the Superior National Forest.

  • Article IV of The Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909, a treaty between the United States and Canada, states: “It is further agreed that the waters herein defined as boundary waters and waters flowing across the boundary shall not be polluted on either side to the injury of health or property on the other.”
  • McCollum’s letter to Secretary Pompeo can be found here and Prime Minister Trudeau letter can be found here

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