The Boundary Waters is an amazing place. Over 1.1 Million acres of pristine untouched forests and waterways and we have access to all of it to hunt, fish, camp, hike and paddle. In fact it’s the most visited wilderness in the United States. This beautiful land has been threatened by proposed Sulfide-Ore Copper mining just outside of the Boundary Waters but within its watershed. We recently saw a slight victory in federal agencies withdrawing the land pending a two-year environmental study to see if this type of mining can be done successfully and cleanly. It’s not looking good as everywhere else in the world this type of mining has been done there’s been major issues. In fact, the parent company of Twin Metals Minnesota, Antofogasta was recently fined $23 Million for environmental issues in their own country of Chile.
The recent announcement by the Department of the Interior was a small victory in the fight to ensure the Boundary Waters stays as perfect as it is today, forever. Unfortunately Congressman Rick Nolan released a statement urging the USDA to overturn the decision to withdraw that land from leasing. The highlights of his statement:
“We are all in agreement with the USDA’s mission to maintain water quality and to protect fish and wildlife. We must protect our environment,” Nolan said. “That being said, we should also never be afraid of exploration and discovery, or using science and facts to dictate important decisions. We must allow mining initiatives to proceed through the proper, rigorous and thorough environmental process – using science, facts and technology to guide our review of actual projects and environmental technology. Prohibiting this exploration before a project proposal is even made is simply irresponsible.” READ FULL RELEASE
The problems here is not only was the withdrawal based on the concerns of his constituents but the fact that we are using science and facts to show that the BWCA watershed is not the right place for Sulfide-Ore Copper mining.
Then to complicate things more and make it seem like he’s doing the right thing he posts this tweet:
I am an ardent supporter of the environmental review process. pic.twitter.com/qBN3gscpxR
— US Rep. Rick Nolan (@USRepRickNolan) February 1, 2017
The issue with this is it’s intentionally misleading. No one can mine in the Boundary Waters, that’s not even up for discussion. It can’t happen ever. The Boundary Waters is permanently protected. What is an issue is mining NEAR the boundary waters and within it’s watershed that would negatively impact the water and the land. Further contradicting himself his letter essentially urges the USDA to halt the current public comment period and environmental study.
After his office was inundated with calls to the point that they couldn’t keep up and his voicemail was full he released this statement:
I support responsible mining and the rigorous, thorough environmental review process that each and every project proposal must go through. And the fact is, you can’t go through that process without a specific proposal. To be clear, there is no specific mining project at this point on the Superior National Forest lands that are proposed to be withdrawn from mining – and the U.S. Forest Service’s decision denies the opportunity for a project before there is even any project to review. Denying any business activity before you know what it is – and what kind of pollution abatement technology they will use or how effective it will be – lacks common sense and subverts the good, thorough and elaborate environmental review process we have in place. READ FULL RELEASE
The problem with his statements is he claims to want to use science and facts and use the review process but his original release calls to end the current environmental study. What’s wrong with conducting the study ahead of any proposal? What’s wrong with being proactive and testing the waters so to speak even without a current proposal? If we wait until there is a more formal proposal backed by the dollars of a global mining company we may lose out. Why risk it?
The bottomline, using your own words Rep Rick Nolan, we’ve explored and we’ve discovered the BWCA to be worth protecting. We’ve used science and facts to show that Sulfide-Ore Copper mining is dangerous. We also know that while jobs are needed, a small portion of temporary jobs in that area aren’t worth losing the 17,000 jobs directly supported by the tourism to the boundary waters.
If you’re interested in letting Rick Nolan know your feelings on the issues please give him a call at 202-225-6211 regardless of your location. This is a national wilderness not a state forest. We need everyone to let him know we don’t want him allowing a damaging industry to ruin our public land, our wilderness. Or let him know by social media Twitter – Facebook.