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Congresswoman Betty McCollum

Representing the 4th District of Minnesota

McCollum Statement on Trump Administration Cancellation of Environmental Study of Mining Impacts in BWCA

September 6, 2018
Press Release

Congresswoman Betty McCollum (DFL-Minn.), Lead Democrat of the House Interior-Environment Appropriations Subcommittee, which funds the Department of the Interior and the U.S. Forest Service, released the following statement after U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced that the U.S. Forest Service will cancel the environmental review of the mining withdrawal of land adjacent to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA):

Last year, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue testified on the record before the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, of which I am the Ranking Member. Secretary Perdue explicitly committed to completing the two-year environmental review of the mining withdrawal of Forest Service lands adjacent to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA). The secretary said, “I’m not smart enough to know what to do without the facts base and the sound science and we are absolutely allowing that to proceed.”

Today, Secretary Perdue broke his word, bending to political pressure from a foreign mining company and abandoning sound science to give a green light to toxic sulfide-ore mining in the watershed that feeds the BWCA.  Like the President he serves, Sec. Perdue’s word cannot be trusted.

The Trump Administration’s abandonment of the Rainy River Watershed mining withdrawal study is a politically-motivated and callous betrayal of their responsibility to care for our public lands.  It completely disregards the scientific evidence that sulfide-ore mining in the watershed will cause irreparable harm to the pristine wilderness of the Boundary Waters.  The Trump Administration is eliminating sound science from the equation in order to ram through a destructive giveaway to their friends at a foreign-owned mining corporation. 

Anyone in Congress or running for Congress who supports this action, Republican or Democrat, turns their back on sound science and the engagement of the American public in this study. And they are certainly betraying the BWCA – our national treasure.

Secretary Perdue told me on the record that “the buck stops here. I am the U.S. Agricultural Secretary.”  This attack on the most visited wilderness area in the U.S. rests with Sec. Perdue and an administration that is once again exploiting profits from our public lands

Read the unofficial transcript of Sec. Perdue's congressional testimony on the Superior National Forest Mineral Withdrawal here