On June 29, the Trump Administration announced they are beginning the official review process of Antofagasta’s Twin Metals sulfide-ore copper mine. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) published a Notice of Intent in the Federal Register to begin reviewing the Twin Metals project, located on the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.
This notice of intent confirms that the Bureau of Land Management’s highest priority under this Administration – even in the Boundary Waters watershed – is an exploitation of Americans’ public lands for private gain.
Under direction from the Secretary of the Interior, the agency will conduct the most superficial of reviews – at breakneck speed and with arbitrary page limits.
This is a reckless push to build a toxic mine right next to the most popular Wilderness in America. Just a week ago, the state of Minnesota declared this Twin Metals mine plan to be incomplete and some material representations to be false.
Make no mistake – the Trump Administration is gutting our environmental laws. If this mine were built, it would damage the Boundary Waters. Every sulfide-ore copper mine has polluted water, and this one would, too.
The Trump administration has:
- Shredded the federal Clean Water Act,
- Gutted the National Environmental Policy Act,
- Arbitrarily reinstated expired mining leases,
- Made a joke of the environmental review process and ignored citizens,
- Cancelled critical studies,
- Suppressed important science,
All with the goal of handing over America’s most popular Wilderness to be exploited for the benefit of a Chilean mining giant Antofagasta.
America has 24 mines producing copper. There is no shortage of copper, but there is only one Boundary Waters.
Save the Boundary Waters is leading the effort to prevent copper mining on the edge of the Boundary Waters. This approach already includes multiple lawsuits, a permanent protection bill in the U.S. Congress, an intensive expert review of the Mine Plan of Operation to expose the dangers, and much, much more.
Timeline of Trump Administration actions fast tracking the destruction of the Boundary Waters:
December 2016: Twin Metals leases deemed too dangerous by the US Forest Service and not renewed. Mineral withdrawal and study of impacts of sulfide-ore copper mining on Boundary Waters announced.
December 2017: The Trump administration rejects the unanimous view of the Johnson, Obama, and Reagan administrations, instead announces “legal error” in previous Twin Metals’ lease decision.
May 2018: Arbitrary reinstatement of expired Twin Metals leases.
September 2018: Mineral withdrawal and study abruptly canceled just prior to release. The Trump administration has refused countless demands from the public, Congress, and the press to release the study and background reports.
May 2019: After the most superficial of environmental reviews that did not even consider the impact of mining, Twin Metals is granted sweetheart lease renewals granting it use of public lands next to the Boundary Waters in perpetuity.
June 2020: The Trump administration finalizes changes to the Clean Water Act that the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) says will prevent Minnesota from protecting the Boundary Waters from a Twin Metals mine.
June 2020: Citing the Coronavirus pandemic, Trump signs an Executive Order instructing federal agencies to waive long-standing environmental laws making it easier to expedite harmful projects.