House RESTORES Minnesota Mining
Washington, November 30, 2017
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressional Western Caucus Chairman Paul A. Gosar D.D.S. (AZ-04), House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (UT-01), Chief Forestry Officer Bruce Westerman (AR-04), House Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05), Western Caucus Members Tom Emmer (MN-06), Doug LaMalfa (CA-01), Doug Lamborn (CO-05), and Congressman Jason Lewis (MN-02) issued statements following passage of H.R. 3905, the "Minnesota's Economic Rights in the Superior National Forest Act".
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressional Western Caucus Chairman Paul A. Gosar D.D.S. (AZ-04), House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (UT-01), Chief Forestry Officer Bruce Westerman (AR-04), House Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05), Western Caucus Members Tom Emmer (MN-06), Doug LaMalfa (CA-01), Doug Lamborn (CO-05), and Congressman Jason Lewis (MN-02) issued statements following passage of H.R. 3905, the "Minnesota's Economic Rights in the Superior National Forest Act":
“I thank Rep. Emmer for his leadership on this issue and commitment to protecting the economic livelihoods of his constituents. This bill protects jobs for Minnesotans while facilitating future economic opportunities across the state through responsible, environmentally sound mineral development,” Congressman Bishop said.
Congressman LaMalfa said, “While this bill addresses a 230,000 acre mineral withdrawal from Superior National Forest in Minnesota, it’s really about jobs, economic growth, and maintaining clear standards for all projects across the nation. The arbitrary decision - the day before Obama left office - halted a $400 million dollar project, jeopardized 17,000 American jobs, cuts $3 billion from k through 12 schools, and slashes $2.5 billion annually from local governments and the state. Mining operations across the country already commit to a strict environmental review process to ensure the safety of the public and the protection of natural resources. This bill ensures that all projects are held to clear, consistent requirements, not arbitrary political decisions."
Congressman Lewis said, “The MINER Act gives us the chance to provide good jobs for families in our communities while ensuring we protect the natural beauty that makes Minnesota such a picturesque state. In too many instances we have seen the federal government put roadblock after roadblock in the way of important infrastructure projects nationwide. For years mining and energy sector projects have been stopped before they can even draft a proposal for consideration. The MINER Act addresses this overreach by federal bureaucrats and brings power back to Minnesota. Ultimately, people who live here know best how to protect our land while providing vital opportunities to use the natural resources we have been blessed with to benefit our citizens and their families.”
On January 19th, 2017, the day before President Trump was sworn in, the previous administration published a 234,328-acre federal mineral withdrawal application in the Federal Register, to restrict for a 20-year moratorium, lands within the Superior National Forest in Northeast Minnesota.
This action immediately placed this vast area off limits to future mineral leasing, exploration and potential development for two years while the 20-year withdrawal is being considered. The total withdrawal application boundary spans approximately 425,000 acres, including 95,000 acres of state school trust fund lands.
In conjunction with this massive mineral withdrawal, the Obama Administration’s Bureau of Land Management inappropriately rejected Twin Metals Minnesota’s application to renew two hardrock mineral leases in Minnesota’s Superior National Forest – leases that were signed in 1966 and renewed without controversy in 1989 and 2004.
These bureaucratic decisions could decimate local economies, stifle job creation as well as cause significant harm to K-12 education and mining in Minnesota. These were political, anti-mining and anti-education actions taken by the Obama Administration.
Education will be significantly harmed as Minnesota is projected to lose up to $3 billion in royalty revenues for the State’s Permanent School Trust Fund that would support nearly 900,000 K-12 students statewide if the withdrawal application and cancelled leases are not rejected.
To date, Twin Metals has invested upward of $400 million – a significant investment – in reliance on the two federal mineral leases that the BLM executed with the company's predecessors and renewed each time they expired.
In 1950, Congress took action to make land available for mineral exploration and development within the Superior National Forest. Then, in 1978, Congress passed the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness Act, a compromise that prohibited mining within the 1.1 million acre Boundary Waters Wilderness Area but again specifically authorized mining in the Superior National Forest. The 1986 Forest Service and 2004 Forest Plans both concluded mining in this area is “a desired condition.”
The MINER Act halts last-minute political mineral withdrawals by requiring Congressional approval for any future withdrawal actions in Minnesota, renews two mineral leases that were denied for political reasons under the same terms they were renewed twice previously and ensures any future mining projects in Minnesota National Forests will have to satisfy all existing environmental permitting requirements including NEPA.
Article IV of the Constitution vests Congress with authority over public lands. This legislation secures the opportunity for job creators to present mining plans in an area already authorized for mining twice by Congress and rejects political and unwarranted actions taken by the previous administration that will harm responsible mineral production, kill jobs and decimate education revenues. No one is proposing to mine in the 1.1 million acre Boundary Waters Wilderness Area, an area that already has significant buffers, and the bill actually protects this area. 17,000 jobs, $3 billion for education, $1.5 billion in annual wages and $2.5 billion annually for our economy are at risk if we don't pass H.R. 3905. Further, there are more than four billion tons of ore containing copper, nickel and other metal resources within the area the previous Administration tried to shut down, which represents the largest known undeveloped deposit of strategic and critical metals in the world.
An awesome video produced by the people of Minnesota on the issues addressed by the bill can be viewed HERE.
The bill is endorsed by:
· 53 bipartisan state legislators (including leadership of both parties)
· Agribusiness & Water Council of Arizona
· Americans for Limited Government
· Apache County (Arizona)
· Arizona Association of Conservation Districts
· Arizona Cattle Feeders Association
· Arizona Pork Council
· Arizona Liberty
· Arizona State Rep. Bob Thorpe
· AZ BASS Nation
· AZ Deer Association
· The Bass Federation
· Cactus and Pine Golf Superintendents Association supports H.R. 3905
· Colorado Mining Association
· Concerned Citizens for America (Arizona)
· Dena Cordova Jack, Executive Vice President, Mountain States Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association
· International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local Union 31
· Laborers District Council of MN & ND
· Laborers International Union of North America
· National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association
· Scott W. Yates, President, Denver Lumber Co.
· Shake Rattle & Troll Outdoors
· Sulphur Springs Valley Electric Cooperative
· Yavapai County Cattle Growers
· Yuma County (AZ) Chamber of Commerce