Campaign Updates

A Major Win for the Boundary Waters in Washington D.C.

Mar 13, 2024
Libby London, Save the Boundary Waters

Last week staffer Alex Falconer and board chair Becky Rom were in D.C. on behalf of the Boundary Waters, and they had some fantastic meetings with legislators — educating them about our issue to save this boreal watershed from toxic mining. Because of your support, we raised just under $18,000 because of a special match brought by an anonymous donor to fund our work in D.C. for the Boundary Waters!

Congressman Pete Stauber is aggressively seeking to force sulfide-ore copper mining just upstream of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. In the past year, he has introduced a Resolution to rescind the current 20-year ban on sulfide-ore copper mining on federal lands in the Wilderness Headwaters. This Resolution is widely acknowledged as unconstitutional because it seeks to change the law by bypassing the President’s signature.

Congressman Stauber has introduced legislation in Congress that would rescind the 20-year ban, grant federal mineral leases in the Wilderness headwaters to a subsidiary (Twin Metals Minnesota LLC) of a foreign mining company (Antofagasta plc), and compel approval of a mine plan of operation widely understood as dangerous for the Boundary Waters, Quetico, and Voyageurs National Park and dozens of businesses.

Finally, he forced an amendment, offically called a “rider” in the U.S. House of Representatives to the annual appropriations bill for the Department of the Interior that would do all of the above. Annual appropriations bills are must pass bill to fund the government. Rep. Stauber tried to tack his bill onto this must-pass legislation that would fund the Department of the Interior as a way to sneak it through without discussion or debate on his bill by itself.

So far, we have stopped all of this. Most significantly, our hard work, patient persistence, and regular trips to Washington, DC, to meet with Members of Congress and staff of critical Congressional committees, paid off just this week. We are recognized in Washington, DC, as the experts on protecting the Boundary Waters and greater Quetico Superior ecosystem and as the leader of the national coalition to Save the Boundary Waters. When we show up, the staff and Members know us and know that we represent the majority of Americans who support protecting the Boundary Waters, Quetico, and Voyageurs.

We are excited to let you know about last week's small step toward permanent protection. Both the Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives passed an Interior Appropriations bill WITHOUT A BOUNDARY WATERS MINING AMENDMENT. We overcame Congressman Stauber's ferocious efforts!

We defeated - for now - Antofagasta. Antofagasta has been spending, on average, approximately $1,000,000 each year on high-priced lobbyists. But we have you - dedicated citizens who care about the most visited Wilderness in the nation. Because of our team and your work and support, we defeated Congressman Stauber’s rider so that a clean Interior Appropriations bill is headed to President Biden's desk!
This is a huge moment for the Boundary Waters and you should be proud that your support made this happen. Thank you again so much.

However, part two of Congressman Stauber's plan is likely to re-emerge later this spring or summer. Having failed in his underhanded attempt to force mining against the will of the people via an Appropriations bill rider, it is likely that Congressman Stauber will push for passage of legislation to rescind the 20-year ban and grant federal leases and mine plan approvals to Antofagasta. We will continue to engage with Congress and with you to prevent exactly this.

Please stay with us so we can keep showing up in Washington, D.C. to protect our Boundary Waters for all generations to come.