Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, November 28, 2017

Contact:  Randi Spivak, (310) 779-4894,

House Set to Approve Bill Greenlighting Sulfide Mine That Threatens Minnesota's Boundary Waters

WASHINGTON— The U.S. House of Representatives will consider legislation Wednesday to allow sulfide-ore mining at the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Minnesota’s Superior National Forest, one of the most unspoiled networks of wild lakes and rivers in the United States.

H.R. 3905, sponsored by Rep. Tom Emmer (R- Minn.), would pave the way for Twin Metals Minnesota, owned by a Chilean company, to mine 5,000 acres along rivers and lakes that flow into the wilderness area. It would void a 2016 Forest Service decision that rejected the proposed mineral leases because of pollution risks and recommended a 20-year ban on mineral withdrawals in the watershed. The bill also undermines numerous laws, including the Antiquities Act and the National Environmental Policy Act.

“Sulfide mining would leave a legacy of irreversible pollution and destruction in one the country’s most visited wilderness areas,” said Randi Spivak, public lands program director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Republicans are desperate to ram through this special interest land-grab to benefit an international mining company. They’re even willing to run roughshod over the U.S. Forest Service.”

Sulfide-ore mining is one of the most toxic industries in America, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Forest Service refused the leases because of concerns about polluting this unspoiled watershed. Emmer’s bill would establish an artificial 30-day limit on any further environmental assessments, effectively forcing the federal government to rubberstamp approval of the Twin Metals mine.

Emmer’s bill also weakens environmental protections for Minnesota’s public lands by requiring congressional approval before the Forest Service could protect national forest lands from mining. Under current law, the Forest Service has the authority to protect lands from mining for up to 20 years to allow consideration of more permanent protections. 

The bill also would amend the 1906 Antiquities Act to strip presidential authority to create national monuments in Minnesota, setting a dangerous precedent.

“This irresponsible bill continues the Republicans’ relentless attacks on our national monuments by stripping power from the president to protect our public lands,” said Spivak. “The spectacular forests, lakes, rivers and streams deserve protection for this and future generations.”

In the first 10 months of the 115th Congress, Republicans have introduced more than 80 bills that attack public lands, weaken environmental safeguards on those lands or turn over control to states and local governments. These attacks come despite the fact that the vast majority of voters across political parties support protecting and maintaining forests, national parks, monuments and other public lands and waters.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.5 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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