A lot has happened since our last update. Here is a breakdown of recent developments and some insight into what's coming up.
- Litigation. In June 2018, Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness and nine Minnesota businesses filed a lawsuit in federal district court in Washington, DC challenging the reinstatement of cancelled federal mineral leases of national forest lands next to the Boundary Waters (Twin Metals leases). Twin Metals intervened in the lawsuit on the side of the Department of the Interior. All parties submitted briefs asking for summary judgement in their favor, meaning the case will be decided on the terms of the leases that were cancelled and on the records in the Bureau of Land Management. We expect the Judge to hold oral arguments on the summary judgement motions later this year. Court proceedings move very slowly, but it is possible we could get a judge's ruling by end of year or early in 2020.
- Congress. Rep. Betty McCollum, the primary leader on protecting the Boundary Waters who we work very closely with, included a provision in the House Interior Appropriations bill report (she is chair of the subcommittee) that directs the federal government to complete the federal mineral withdrawal study. This study analyzed the benefits of a ban on copper mining in the Rainy River Drainage Basin (the watershed of the Boundary Waters) and was abruptly halted for political reasons by order of the President after 20 months of a 24-month review. The provision in the Interior Appropriations report would require the Forest Service to complete the study and provide it to Congress. During the study, no mineral applications could be approved.
- Outreach. We continue to provide learning opportunities and disseminate information through a variety of means. We had our first outdoors Boundary Waters concert on August 16! Over 4,400 people came to the Duluth Bayfront to listen to 9 Minnesota artists, hear our message, and celebrate the Boundary Waters. It was a great event that generated a lot of media, captured many new names on our petitions, and helped us raise money for the cause. We worked to get exceptional stories in Outside Magazine and the New York Times in June, there was a very nice article in The New Yorker in July, and we worked with Audubon to get an article in its magazine in September. We hosted a booth at the Minnesota State Fair, where we provided information, sold merchandise, and secured another 10,000 signatures on our petition. We are growing our national Volunteer Ambassador program and it has received a lot of interest (learn more here). And, we are working to finalize 3 videos, this fall: a documentary on the Boundary Waters and the threat of sulfide-ore mining; a 360 video experience to show people the beauty of the Boundary Waters; and an animated video to show how the Wilderness will be devastated by the construction of the mine. There have been many other meetings, articles and events in support of our efforts, as well.
As you can see, it has been a busy few months, and things will continue that way. Your support is greatly appreciated and critical to our success. Look for a lot more activity as we approach the winter, and, as always, let us know if you have any questions!