Wednesday, December 12, 2018
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Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters

Timeline of Key Dates

Potential Sulfide-Ore Copper Mining on Superior National Forest Lands in the Boundary Waters Watershed: Timeline of Key Benchmarks

1873Public domain lands in Minnesota withdrawn from General Mining Law of 1872
1909Superior National Forest established
1909 Boundary Waters Treaty signed by Canada and the United States, requiring that neither country pollute boundary waters or waters that flow across the boundary
1946Congress authorizes mineral leasing on acquired national forest lands in Minnesota where leasing will not interfere with primary purposes for which the land was acquired
1950Contemplating granite, gravel, and iron ore mining that would not interfere with recreational uses, Congress authorizes mineral leasing on public domain national forest lands in Minnesota upon Forest Service consent  
1964 Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) designated by the Wilderness Act
1966BLM issues to predecessor of Twin Metals Minnesota two federal preference right mineral leases (MNES 1352 and MNES 1353) covering nearly 5,000 acres of the Superior National Forest adjacent to the BWCAW for a primary term of 20 years

Boundary Waters Wilderness Act bans mining within the Wilderness, establishes a 220,000-acre Mining Protection Zone along entry corridors, and further protects the BWCAW

1989 Mineral leases (MNES 1352 and MNES 1353) renewed for 10 years
2004 Mineral leases (MNES 1352 and MNES 1353) renewed for 10 years
Oct. 2012Twin Metals applies for a third 10-year renewal of mineral leases (1352 and 1353)
May 2012

BLM issues 28 prospecting permits covering over 38,000 acres of the Superior National Forest in the BWCAW watershed

Mar. 8, 2016Solicitor of the Department of the Interior Hilary Tompkins issues a legal opinion finding that BLM has discretion to grant or deny Twin Metals’ lease renewal application
Dec. 14, 2016

Following a 30-day public comment period and two public meetings, Forest Service issues decision withholding its consent to renew mineral leases (1352 and 1353)

Dec. 15, 2016BLM denies renewal of mineral leases (1352 and 1353), and the leases expire
Jan. 19, 2017Forest Service files an application to withdraw from mineral leasing approximately 234,000 acres of Superior National Forest lands in the BWCAW watershed, initiating a 2-year segregation, and issues a notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement
Mar.-July 2017Forest Service holds three public meetings on the proposed withdrawal, with approximately 2,700 people attending and 101 out of 157 speakers supporting withdrawal
Aug. 17, 2017Forest Service receives more than 125,000 public comments on the proposed withdrawal, with approximately 98% of the over 81,000 unique comments and 94% of the over 44,000 form comments favoring withdrawal
Dec. 22, 2017Acting Principal Deputy Solicitor of the Department of the Interior Daniel Jorjani issues a legal opinion withdrawing and replacing the Tompkins opinion and finding that BLM lacked discretion to deny Twin Metals’ lease renewal application
Jan. 26, 2018

Forest Service downgrades withdrawal study from an environmental impact statement to an environmental assessment and initiates a second public comment period

Feb. 28, 2018

Forest Service receives an additional nearly 56,000 comments in favor of withdrawal; altogether approximately 98% of the over 180,000 comments received favored withdrawal

May 2, 2018BLM rescinds its December 2016 denial of the renewal of 1352 and 1353 and reinstates the expired leases and Twin Metals’ renewal application
June 2018 Three lawsuits filed in federal district court in DC challenging the reinstatement decision
Sept. 6, 2018Secretary of the Department of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announces in a press release that the Forest Service is cancelling its application for withdrawal, and the public process and development of an environmental assessment are terminated; the announcement followed statements by President Trump and Vice President Pence at rallies in Duluth, MN in June and August that they would “rescind the withdrawal” and are “rolling back the ban”