Two important news reports were recently published that make plain the Trump administration's unlawful maneuvers to ram through federal mineral leases for the Chilean mining giant Antofagasta’s Twin Metals on the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. The person at the center of these maneuvers is Koch Brothers strategist Daniel Jorjani, who has been impermissibly acting as the top lawyer for the Department of Interior the past two years, despite never undergoing the required confirmation by the US Senate.
Links to news reports:
The news reports are based on Department of Interior documents obtained as part of a lawsuit challenging the legality of a May 2018 temporary reinstatement of expired mineral leases. These leases were not renewed in 2016 when, after years of study and overwhelming public comment, the U.S. Forest Service concluded that copper mining under these leases posed an unacceptable risk of irreparable damage to the Boundary Waters and surrounding Superior National Forest lands and waters.
Since assuming power in 2017 the Trump Administration has been ignoring science, facts, and the will of the people by systematically unwinding protections for the Boundary Waters at the behest of Antofagasta.
The Trump Administration is now on the verge of fully renewing the expired leases and granting Twin Metals the right to mine. This follows on the heels of the Trump Administration’s 11th hour cancellation of a two-year study intended to determine the benefits of a 20-year mining ban on lands near the Boundary Waters. The ban was requested by the U.S. Forest Service as necessary to protect the Wilderness from the risks posed by sulfide-ore mining. Over 94% of the 125,000 public comments on the study urged protection.
FIVE THINGS TO KNOW
1. The Trump Administration is rigging the legal process to ram through mineral leases for a Chilean mining boss who is also Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump’s landlord. Since assuming power in 2017 the Trump Administration has been ignoring science, facts, and the will of the people by systematically unwinding protections for the Boundary Waters at the behest of Antofagasta.
2. Antofagasta has a history of environmental disaster and political corruption in its homeland. Antofagasta was found guilty by the Chilean Supreme Court of harming residents when the mining company located its tailings dam upstream, polluting the groundwater and blocking a critical source of water on which the community depended. They were responsible for the highest number of toxic spills in the region of Coquimbo, including one spill which dumped 13,000 liters of copper concentrate directly into a river. They faced a fine of $23.8 million and closure of its biggest copper mine in Chile over violations of its environmental permit, including water pollution.
Antofagasta has been implicated in a number of bribery and corruption scandals, including with a high-ranking Chilean cabinet minister, a questionable $10 million dollar loan to the daughter-in-law of the Chilean president, and tax fraud.
3. The Trump Administration is suppressing important scientific information about the danger sulfide-ore copper mining poses to the Boundary Waters. The US Department of Agriculture abruptly cancelled a two year study on the impacts of copper mining on lands and communities near the Boundary Waters. The study would have shown the harm sulfide-ore copper mining would have done. The Trump administration has refused to make public the underlying ecological, public health, and economic reports prepared during the study. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Toxics Release Inventory, metal mining is the nation’s #1 toxic polluter, and a wide body of rigorous scientific literature shows the near inevitability of pollution flowing into and severely damaging the Boundary Waters.
4. Protecting the Boundary Waters is the smart economic choice. The BWCA is the most heavily visited wilderness area in the United States, attracting more than 155,000 visitors from all over the world and helps drive more than $900 million in economic activity every year and over 17,000 jobs. A recent independent study from Harvard University showed that protecting the Boundary Waters from the Twin Metals mine would resulted in dramatically more jobs and income over a year 20 year period.
5. A vast majority of Minnesotans and Americans want the Boundary Waters protected from the threat of sulfide-ore copper mining. Seventy percent of Minnesotans oppose sulfide-ore copper mining near the Boundary Waters, and over 94% of the 125,000 public comments on the proposed mineral withdrawal urged protection.
|1873||Public domain lands in Minnesota withdrawn from General Mining Law of 1872|
|1909||Superior 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|
|1946||Congress authorizes mineral leasing on acquired national forest lands in Minnesota where leasing will not interfere with primary purposes for which the land was acquired|
|1950||Contemplating 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|
|1966||BLM 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. 2012||Twin Metals applies for a third 10-year renewal of mineral leases (1352 and 1353)|
BLM issues 28 prospecting permits covering over 38,000 acres of the Superior National Forest in the BWCAW watershed
|Mar. 8, 2016||Solicitor 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, 2016||BLM denies renewal of mineral leases (1352 and 1353), and the leases expire|
|Jan. 19, 2017||Forest 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 2017||Forest 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, 2017||Forest 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, 2017||Acting 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, 2018||BLM 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, 2018||Secretary 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”|
On November 12-15, 40 young students from across the United States and South America gathered in Washington, D.C., to advocate for the Boundary Waters. This was the second Kids for the Boundary Waters D.C. Fly-In. The trip was a tremendous success, and powerful statements from kids were delivered in 35 meetings with members of Congress and their top staffers. Their passion was unmistakable; it was made clear that the preservation of the BWCA matters to today’s youth and future generations.
All involved on the trip returned more charged and motivated to continue guarding this special place. The Kids for the Boundary Waters has already begun planning for their next D.C. Fly-In.
If you would like to donate or learn more about the Kids for the Boundary Waters, please check out their website.
The group heads toward the U.S. Capitol building, ready to advocate for the BWCA.
Jumps are high, and enthusiasm is higher.
The kids filed into the Department of the Interior building, where they met with officials making big decisions on our lands.
In preparation for their statements, the students reviewed maps of the BWCA.
Many smiles on the night before their first big day!
The kids shared their experiences with one another, along with dreams of future BWCA canoe trips.
Kids for the Boundary Waters Board Member Henry Holocomb converses with Becky Rom about the BWCA.
The group included more than just kids! Several adult BWCA supporters joined to help the group navigate Washington, D.C.
Discussion circles formed in the halls, where the kids got to talk strategy and get to know one another better.
The trip included many first-time visitors to Washington, D.C.
They walked the halls with confidence and a message to share.
This was a family bonding experience for Alex Falconer, Erica Falconer, and their daughter, Elsie.
35 meetings in total with elected Congresspeople and their staffers!
Kids for the Boundary Waters President Joseph Goldstein with Senator Dick Durbin.
The group admired the architecture and artwork of the Capitol.
The group with Betty McCollum, U.S. Representative for Minnesota's 4th Congressional District.
Kids for the Boundary Waters Advisory Board Members pose for a photo in front of the Washington Monument.
Scootering by the Capitol in style.
At the end of their trip, the kids were proud of their work, and the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters is proud and grateful for them too! Their statements and passion made an impact, and we're all looking forward to what the Kids for the Boundary Waters will continue to accomplish in 2019.
Support the businesses and organizations who support protecting the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Here are a few businesses doing special promotions this season to give back and help us fight against the threat of sulfide-ore copper mining along the edge of the Wilderness!
SEEK DRY GOODS
Outdoor-inspired clothing/accessory brand Seek Dry Goods is supporting the Campaign 11/25-12/1! Through their Season of Giving campaign we will receive a special donation from every purchase made through 12/1. To participate, place an order on seekdrygoods.com (includes Free Shipping on US orders) and a portion will automatically be donated to the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters.
SHOP NOW: Seek Dry Goods - 11/25 - 12/1
Now you can help protect our Wilderness with every shower! Our friends at Redbudsuds is giving our cause 50% of each Gunflint Peppermint shower bar sold. This 4-in-1 Shower Bar is Boundary Waters safe and has everything you need to get clean in one bar: shampoo, conditioner, body soap and shaving cream. Get yours for everyone on your holiday shopping list before they sell out!
SHOP NOW: Redbudsuds - Gunflint Peppermint
Humble Apparel Co. has partnered up with the Campaign to help protect the Boundary Waters! For any BWCA hat purchased, Humble will donate 25% of the proceeds to the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters. Check out some of their awesome BWCA-inspired products!
SHOW NOW: BWCA Gear from Humble Apparel
In collaboration with Great Lakes and local artist Mark Herman, they’ve launched this hoodie as the first product under their Freshwater Initiative - an ongoing and collaborative campaign to protect our waters. For each hoodie sold they'll be donating $20 directly to the Campaign.
SHOP NOW: Great Lakes - BWCA Hoodie
As part of Storm Creek’s Embrace the Cause initiative, Storm Creek has teamed up with the Campaign to launch one of these Performance Pullovers! $20 goes directly to help save the Boundary Waters. Use coupon code BWCA10 online to save 10% when you spend $50 or more. And don't forget to check out this awesome warehouse sale!
SHOP NOW: Performance Pullover
Through AmazonSmile, Amazon donates 0.5% of the purchase price from your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to a charity of your choice. Almost one million 501(c)(3) public charitable organizations participate in AmazonSmile, so whichever one you have on your mind is likely in its roster.
SHOP NOW: AmazonSmile
Check out the other promotions on our shop to support page!
As you shop this holiday season, keep in mind the many brands and organizations helping protect the Boundary Waters and other public lands efforts. We have over 300 businesses that have joined our Boundary Waters Business Coalition - click here to see the list!
Dear Fellow Explorer,
Greetings from our sailboat, Discovery! Since we left Minnesota’s north shore in August, after our Year in the Wilderness book tour, we have sailed the Great Lakes, traveled through the Erie Canal and the Hudson River out to the East Coast, and are making our way south for the winter. While we travel, we are working on writing another book and we are keeping close tabs on the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters.
Dave and Amy Freeman aboard their sailboat, the Discovery.
You may know that on September 6, the Trump administration announced an abrupt end to the study on the risks of copper mining in the area, and opened a quarter million acres of federal public land to further mineral leasing and development. This decision is a betrayal of public trust and the many thousands of people who weighed in to say the Boundary Waters watershed must be protected. Scientific and economic data also support the need to ban copper mining in order to protect the Wilderness and the sustainable economies of wilderness-edge communities we call home.
Dave and Amy Freeman paddling in front of their sailboat, the Discovery.
and we are asking you to help the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters fight back against sulfide-ore copper mining.
When you donate any dollar amount today, every gift is matched 100% up to $65,000.
There is so much to be done in the fight for the Boundary Waters, and your generosity will play a crucial role in protecting this special place for generations to come. In addition to an active lawsuit against the unlawful reinstatement of the Twin Metals leases, the Campaign is preparing to challenge the dozens of potential leases that could move forward as a result of the recent decision by the Trump Administration.
Thanks for continuing to speak loudly for this wild and beautiful place!
Signing off for now,
Dave and Amy Freeman
P.S. Give to the Max Day is a great time to give - not only will your gift be matched 100% up to $65,000, but every donation will improve the Campaign’s chances to win additional $500, $1,000, and even $10,000 gifts! Please give today.
On September 23, 2016, Dave and Amy Freeman returned after 366 days in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in support of the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters’ efforts to protect the Boundary Waters from proposed sulfide-ore copper mining on the Wilderness edge. During their Year in the Wilderness, Dave and Amy camped at approximately 120 different sites, explored 500 lakes, rivers and streams, and traveled more than 2,000 miles by canoe, foot, ski, snowshoe and dog team. In 2014 Dave and Amy traveled by canoe and sailboat from Ely to Washington D.C. during Paddle to DC as a first step in their efforts to protect the Wilderness. Most recently, that same journey was made via bicycle, ending in Washington D.C. in June of 2018.
Today, on Give to the Max Day, I write to you from Washington, D.C. where I’m leading a contingency of 40 high school and college-aged kids, who are Wilderness Warriors from across America—including Peru—advocating to our nation's elected and appointed officials on behalf of our favorite Wilderness: The Boundary Waters Canoe Area.
It is your support that makes trips to D.C. like ours possible. Give NOW during the Power Hour to help the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters win additional Give to the Max Day funding that will take this fight even further.
Kids for the Boundary Waters meeting with Representative Betty McCollum in Washington, D.C., November 13, 2018.
Most of you know my story by now: at 13 years old I was diagnosed with leukemia and made a wish that became my mission—to protect the Boundary Waters against the threat posed by a giant, foreign mining company called Antofagasta.
Antofagasta has proposed sulfide-ore copper mining within the watershed of America’s most visited and pristine water wilderness. This type of mining is very different from Minnesota’s traditional taconite mining; sulfide ore copper mining has never been done in Minnesota, and has never been done anywhere without significant environmental damage. This foreign mining conglomerate wants to invade and endanger our wilderness in order to exploit and extract America’s resources. The result? Waters, wildlife and woods that will be forever altered and poisoned.
Kids for the Boundary Waters in Washington, D.C., November 13, 2018.
In February I took my last dose of 3.5 years of daily chemotherapy, closed the door on cancer and decided it was time to up my game on behalf of the Boundary Waters. And so on June 19th, in front of the Washington Monument and with a small group of equally committed teenagers by my side, together we launched a new initiative: Kids For The Boundary Waters (Kids4BW). We are back in D.C. this week, working as hard as we can to save this special part of America for all of us.
Please join my team of Wilderness Warriors in protecting this special place for every generation. Right now is the Give to the Max Day Power Hour, a monumental hour that gives the organization who raises the most money during this hour of giving thousands of extra dollars to put towards their cause.
Not only will your donation help boost the Campaign’s chances of gaining thousands of dollars in additional funds, if you GIVE RIGHT NOW, you'll also be entered to win cool outdoor prizes.
Even better news? When you donate right now, your gift will be doubled! We’ve received a generous $65,000 match, significantly increasing the impact of your donation. Please donate now to make the most impact.
Kids for the Boundary Waters, 40th Anniversary Celebration, October 22, 2018.
Living with cancer is no joke, but it is also a surprisingly good teacher. Although I’ll still be sorting lessons for years to come, the one thing I have learned for sure is that sometimes life only gives you one chance to get it done. This is it. This is our chance to save America’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.
On behalf of Kids4BW Wilderness Warriors and the Save The Boundary Waters Campaign, thank you. Your support – your email, your comments, your amplification of our voices and, of course, your donation dollars, are all critically important as we work towards permanent protection of the Boundary Waters.
Suit Up. Show Up. Repeat
On October 21, 1978, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness Act was signed by Jimmy Carter, protecting the Boundary Waters.
This past week, on October 22, 2018, Boundary Waters lovers from across the country came together to celebrate the Wilderness and inspire the continued fight to keep the Boundary Waters clean and protected for future generations.
Guests arrive early in the evening for the start of the VIP reception.
Conversations and smiles are exchanged in the outdoor tent space.
NMW Co-chair Adam Fletcher, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, and Special Guest Christy Goldfuss share stories and laughs.
Experts from the University of Minnesota Raptor Center chat with guests about these striking birds.
Guests peruse the silent auction table before placing their bids.
Beautiful scenery from the Boundary Waters Wilderness is projected over the party below.
Old friends reunite before sitting down for dinner.
Special guests Tom Vilsack, Betty McCollum, and Walter Mondale greet happily as they take their seats.
First speaker of the evening: Becky Rom, National Campaign Chair.
Second speaker of the evening: Erik Paulsen, U.S. Representative.
Third speaker of the evening: Betty McCollum, U.S. Representative.
Fourth speaker of the evening: Walter Mondale, Vice President of the United States.
Fifth speaker of the evening: Tom Vilsack, Former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture.
Sixth speaker of the evening: Christy Goldfuss, Former Director of the White House Council on Environmental Quality.
Joseph Goldstein, founder of Kids for the Boundary Waters, speaks after receiving the Outstanding Wilderness Warrior Award.
Four board members of Kids for the Boundary Waters.
Roger Powell stands proudly with his refurbished canoe before the live auction.
Roger Powell portages his canoe between tables during the live auction!
Guests "raise their paddles" to bid in the live auction and donation waterfall.
Every seat was filled in support of the Boundary Waters Wilderness Act.
Following the dinner and auction, Universoul brought new energy to the room with music and dancing.
Thanks to all who attended the 40th Anniversary Celebration of the Boundary Waters Wilderness Act. The celebration was energizing and filled with hope for the future of this wilderness; here's to 40 more years of Boundary Waters protection!
This past September, the Trump Administration officials announced that the application for a mineral withdrawal, which would have protected Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Wilderness from the threat of sulfide-ore copper mining, was cancelled. The Administration ignored science and facts, and did not complete a promised study on the social, economic and environmental harm that sulfide-ore copper mining would do to America’s most visited Wilderness. There is no indication the required environmental assessment was ever completed nor was it ever put out for public comment, which is normal practice.
Secretary Sonny Perdue’s Promise:
In May 2017, in response to Congresswoman Betty McCollum (D, MN), two senior members of the Trump Administration – Sonny Perdue, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture (USDA), and Tom Tidwell, Chief of the U.S. Forest Service – promised the U.S. House Interior Appropriations Committee that they would “absolutely” complete an all-important environmental study intended to determine whether the watershed flowing into the Boundary Waters is the right place to consider sulfide-ore copper mining.
The study was initiated in January, 2017, when the U.S. Forest Service submitted its formal request that federal lands in the Boundary Waters watershed be put off-limits to new mineral leasing and exploration for 20 years — a type of action called a “mineral withdrawal.”
Secretary Perdue Broke His Promise:
On September 6, 2018, the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture cancelled the Forest Service’s application for a withdrawal before the environmental study was complete. In doing so, he not only broke his word, but also turned his back on the Boundary Waters and all who love it.
How do we know the environmental study was never completed?
The USDA’s September 6 press release never exactly said that the agency had completed it, and failed to provide a link to the study.
The Secretary’s cancelation of the study happened nearly two months before the U.S. Forest Service’s estimated date for when the final environmental review document would be available (November 1, 2018).
The U.S. Forest Service admits it did not complete the environmental study. In an email responding to our written request for a copy of the completed environmental assessment (EA), The Press Officer for the Forest Service responded: “We do not have a completed EA to send you, because we determined there was not any need to complete the process on an environmental assessment based on what we learned over the last 15 months.”
Here are some of the facts behind the decision to open up Superior National Forest to sulfide-ore copper mining:
$950 MILLION MORE FROM AN AMENITY-BASED ECONOMY THAN A COPPER MINE - The same Harvard study showed that a healthy Boundary Waters creates a healthy business boom for the long-haul: a 20-year mining ban would produce far greater economic benefit and diversity than the proposed Twin Metals mine with up to $900 million more personal income to the local area over 20 years if copper mining is banned. Learn more about the Harvard Study.
An analysis by Key Log Economics found that of the more than 81,000 unique comment letters submitted to the Forest Service in 2017, 98.2% supported a 20-year ban on sulfide-ore copper mining in the watershed of the Boundary Waters. In addition, the Forest Service received petitions and postcards signed by 41,971 people that support the mineral withdrawal. Altogether, 121,539 people urged the Forest Service to protect the Boundary Waters. This scoping comment period generated the most participation in an environmental review process in Minnesota history.
1. Scoping comment letter (part 3) of NMW et al. Northern Minnesota Federal Minerals Withdrawal EIS 8-17-2017
September 12, 2018
Last week, Secretary Perdue went back on his word and broke his promise to each of us as American citizens by cancelling an ongoing Forest Service study. The completion of which was Perdue’s prerogative before making any decision on protecting the Boundary Waters, as he himself gave his word during congressional testimony. This study was to establish the science, economics and public opinion before making any decision. Over 180,000 Americans voiced their opinion and volumes of research were submitted proving the awaiting disaster. Without this study, we the people are now denied a reasoned and careful approach, through the silencing of sciences and our collective voices.
While there are many reasons to defend the Boundary Waters, I am personally in this fight because I want the Boundary Waters preserved for my kids and generations to come. It is my main motivation and the driver behind why I stay in this fight.
However, no matter what your reason is for protecting the watershed of the Boundary Waters, there are four things you can do right now to fight this terrible betrayal:
Sign the NEW petition and share it.
We have an updated petition since the news from September will be automatically sent to your U.S. House member and both U.S. Senators to demand them to either stand with Trump or the American people. Then share the heck out of it—the more people the more power we have.
Sign your name >
Raise your voice or write it down.
Do you have a lot of opinions on this and want to help? While we all needed a moment to let out our frustrations, it’s time to strike back. Post about it on social. Write a letter to the editor, no matter where in the U.S. you live. Host a house party and tell your friends and family. Ask others what they are doing to help save the Boundary Waters. There is no platform or conversation too small to make a difference.
Like us on Facebook >
Follow us on Twitter >
Heart us on Instagram >
Vote for the Boundary Waters.
November 6. NOVEMBER 6!!! Remember this date, mark it on your calendar, and text your friends if they need a ride to go vote on November 6. Research candidates now and demand they protect the Boundary Waters. Tell them your vote is a Boundary Waters vote.
Add it to your calendar >
Donate. If you’ve got the money, we’ve got the time.
I put this last because now, more than ever, we need people who can take meaningful actions. Not everyone can make a donation. If you can something as little as $3 makes a difference. Now that the Trump Administration opened up Superior National Forest to new mining prospects, we’re going to need to challenge everything the Administration throws at us.
Donate Here >
The strength of our Campaign is that people like me and like you from across the country have banded together to protect this special place for any variety of reasons. We all know, once you have experienced the Boundary Waters, it is something that stays with you forever. It becomes a part of who you are and it is worth fighting for.
I want to extend a heartfelt thank you to everyone for your support over the past few years. While we face challenges ahead, we are in a strong position to fight back now and into the future. Please stay with us, stay informed, stay in the fight and make your voice heard.
For the Wilderness,
The decision opens the path for Chilean-based Twin Metals, and any other interested party, the option to lease public lands next to the Boundary Waters for sulfide-ore copper mining.
September 6, 2018
Today, Trump Administration officials announced that they canceled the application for a mineral withdrawal that would have protected Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Wilderness from the threat of sulfide-ore copper mining. The Administration ignored science and facts and clearly did not complete a promised study on the social, economic and environmental harm that sulfide-ore copper mining would do to America’s most popular Wilderness. There is no indication the required environmental assessment was ever completed nor was it ever put out for public comment, which is normal practice. The study had already been downgraded from an Environmental Impact Statement to a less rigorous Environmental Assessment. This comes after Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, whose office oversees the environmental assessment, told a congressional panel that they would “absolutely” finish this key study and make no decisions until after it was concluded.
“The Trump Administration broke it’s word to us, to Congress, and to the American people when it said it would finish the environmental assessment and base decisions on facts and science,” said Alex Falconer, Executive Director of the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters. “This is nothing less than a giveaway by the administration to a foreign mining conglomerate whose owner just happens to be Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner’s landlord. It’s clear whose interest this Administration is really serving, and it’s not that of the American people.”
After reviewing the science and public comments from sportsmen, veterans, scientists and tribes the former Chief of the US Forest Service, Tom Tidwell, said: “I find unacceptable the inherent potential risk that development of a regionally-untested copper nickel sulfide ore mine within the same watershed as the BWCAW might cause serious and irreplaceable harm to this unique, iconic, and irreplaceable wilderness area.”
The Boundary Waters is a national icon, one of the last truly wild places on earth, and a major economic driver for Northern Minnesota. The study would have analyzed the threats and costs to the community posed by sulfide-ore copper mining on the edge of the wilderness. Earlier this year the Trump Administration unlawfully reinstated mineral leases to Twin Metals which had previously been denied by the former administration, allowing them to circumvent environmental review. That decision is being challenged in court.
It also completely disregards the voices of over 180,000 American citizens who participated in good faith in public comment periods held by the US Forest Service. During the first comment period for the study 98% of respondents urged protection of this wild and beautiful place.
Now, it's up to us to speak loudly for the Boundary Waters.