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McCollum Statement on Trump Administration Renewal of Twin Metals Mineral Leases

May 15, 2019
Press Release

In response to the Bureau of Land Management's renewal of hardrock mineral leases in the Superior National Forest today, Congresswoman Betty McCollum (DFL-Minn.) released the following statement: 

“The Trump administration’s decision to reissue cancelled mineral leases to Twin Metals, a significant step towards sulfide-ore mining within the watershed of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA), was purely based on politics and profits, not science or a honest evaluation of the fragility of this water rich ecosystem,” Congresswoman McCollum said.

“Sulfide-ore mines fail, and failure means toxic pollution entering the environment. Simply put: sulfide-ore copper mining is an existential threat to the BWCA and the thriving outdoor economy it supports. Once polluted, this wilderness, whose waters flow north into Canada, will be poisoned forever. The BWCA is the most visited federal wilderness area in America. It is a unique, iconic, and irreplaceable national treasure. I strongly condemn the Department of Interior’s decision to issue these leases, and I will fight back alongside the environmental community, job creators in the outdoor recreation industry, and all Americans who value wilderness, pollution-free spaces, and a sustainable economy. President Trump, the polluters and the profiteers who exploit our environment must not be allowed to desecrate this special place. This is a fight and we need to win so the BWCA can be protected forever.”

In her role as a member of the Appropriations Committee, Congresswoman McCollum proposed language which is included in the Fiscal Year 2020 State and Foreign Operations funding bill report (p. 31), because of concerns that this lease renewal represents a threat not only to American waters, but to the 1909 Boundary Waters Treaty between the United States and Canada. A 2017 report on the Boundary Waters Voyageur Waterway, Ontario, stated: "The Twin Metals proposal is for an underground mine for the extraction of the same minerals near Ely, in the Rainy River watershed that flows north and west into the BWCAW, out of Minnesota into Quetico and Rainy Lake. The potential for the production of sulfuric acid and other contaminants from this mine’s waste rock and tainted water leakage into this watershed represents an existential threat to the integrity of the aquatic and terrestrial wildlife in the area of influence."

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