New hope to protect BWCA from mining damage
Those who embrace environmental protection have been cheered by President Joe Biden’s restoration of practices and reviews that don’t place profits above protection of natural resources.
That renewed embrace of the environment should aid in preventing approval of a copper mine in the Superior National Forest near Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.
The Twin Metals project, being sought by a Chilean mining giant, would mine 20,000 tons of copper daily.
In 2016 the Obama administration rejected lease renewals for Twin Metals. The decision triggered an in-depth study on the risks of copper mining next to the BWCA. But the Trump administration stopped the study before it was done and buried the findings. The Trump administration also maneuvered to reinstate Twin Metals leases on national land.
While Biden hasn’t so far directly addressed the BWCA project, his cabinet appointments bode well for protecting the BWCA’s pristine waters from copper mining.
There are also bills pending or soon to be introduced in Congress and the Minnesota Legislature aimed at slowing or stopping copper mining near the BWCA, while another bill would aid Twin Metals in their efforts.
U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum, D-St. Paul, is proposing a bill that would effectively prevent Twin Metals from locating near the BWCA. On the state level, legislators are set to introduce legislation similar to McCollum’s.
Rep. Pete Stauber, R-Hermantown, is pushing a bill that would require an act of Congress to halt mining on federal lands where it’s currently allowed. Fortunately, Stauber’s bill is unlikely to be embraced in the U.S. House.
Nearly five years ago the chief of the U.S. Forest Service issued a decision that copper mining next to the BWCA would pose a high risk of doing irreparable harm to the pristine waters. Indeed, the history of metal mining is that it is highly polluting, despite industry claims it can be done safely.
The Biden administration needs to return to following long established federal laws that protect public lands from being opened to uses with high risks of polluting. The BWCA is a one-of-a-kind gem that is enjoyed by people from around the world. Risking its water by allowing copper mining is unacceptable.
— Mankato Free Press