A lot has happened since our last update on April 22, and it is a real mixed bag.
Most significantly, On May 15, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM, an office within the federal Department of the Interior) officially renewed the 2 federal mining leases on the edge of the Boundary Waters for the Twin Metals mine. These were the same mineral leases that were terminated in 2016 by the Obama Administration because of non-compliance with lease conditions and incompatibility with the recreational purposes Superior National Forest (SNF). With these in hand, Twin Metals – the wholly owned subsidiary of Chilean mining conglomerate Antofagasta – now has a clear path to submit a mine plan to state and federal agencies. They have indicated that will happen within the next 2 months.
So, there’s that.
But a lot of good has happened, too. First, and most importantly, Rep. Betty McCollum has introduced report language in 2 appropriations bills that requires the federal agencies to reveal the potential damage to Canada, and also to complete the comprehensive study of mining in the SNF. That study, originally expected to take 2 years to complete, was cut short 4 months before completion by Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue who claimed there was no new information uncovered (in spite of dozens of studies we provided). Rep. McCollum and her allies, have repeatedly asked for the information that had been compiled, and been roundly ignored by the administration. As Chair of the Interior Appropriations Committee, Rep. McCollum now has the ability to get the attention of the administration.
We have seen strong support in the media. Notably, the StarTribune has blasted the Trump administration for its underhanded practices and its unwillingness to share information. Minnesotans really value transparency in government, and that is clearly not happening. Similarly, we’ve seen strong support in the Timberjay, CityPages, the Center for American Progress, Outside Magazine and MinnPost. Our message is getting out and people are outraged.
A highlight for us was a Rally for the Boundary Waters at the Minnesota State Capitol on May 22 – a week after the leases were renewed. On short notice, during the work day, more than 400 supporters showed up to demonstrate their passion for the Boundary Waters and their opposition to this mine. It was an amazing afternoon, and we subsequently delivered petitions with 200,000 names of Americans opposed to this project. It was a great day.
We are now continuing to meet with elected officials – both federal and state - to convince them that their leadership is critical. We continue to organize our grassroots supporters (thank you supporters!), and lift up their voices. Their dedication is inspiring.
The next few months will be critical. A mine plan will be submitted and the clock will start ticking. We need your support to convince our elected officials to do the right thing. Watch for our updates, and be ready to help anyway you can.
We’ll never stop fighting for the Boundary Waters.
MINNESOTANS —Take the next step and call your elected officials:
Senator Tina Smith: (202) 224-5641
Senator Amy Klobuchar: (202) 224-3244
Governor Tim Walz: (651) 201-3400