St. Paul, Minnesota (Dec. 15, 2016) – Jobs for Minnesotans today released the following statement in response to the decisions by the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management to deny Twin Metals Minnesota’s lease renewals and to withdraw federal lands from future development:
“Jobs for Minnesotans is outraged by the Obama Administration’s arbitrary and unprecedented actions to bar new mineral permits and leases on federally owned lands in northeastern Minnesota and to deny the renewal of Twin Metals Minnesota’s federal mineral leases. These acts are attacks on the future accessibility of critical minerals and on the people of northeastern Minnesota who have proudly and responsibly developed natural resources for generations. They send a chilling message to the communities that have held out hope that a new era of mining would ensure their long-term prosperity.
These actions ignore the clear consensus in northeastern Minnesota communities backing the long-established process for regulating the mining industry. Over the past several months, strong statements supporting access to minerals and a transparent regulatory process have been repeatedly delivered to the federal agencies by our Board and local elected officials representing thousands of citizens across the Iron Range. Many leading Minnesota lawmakers, including U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan, have also expressed support for the existing regulatory process.
In preempting the established and lawful process, federal agencies are taking an extreme step of denying the public the opportunity to evaluate mining projects on their merits. Not only does this action prevent due process on the Twin Metals mining plans, it threatens to halt for years – or even forever – other mineral development, including iron ore mining, in a vast 234,000-acre region outside of the federally protected Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.
Support for mining activities in the region remains strong. Twin Metals Minnesota and the MiningMinnesota trade association recently released results of a November 2016 regional survey that found more than 80 percent of residents support the existing process of allowing copper-nickel mining projects to go through rigorous state and federal environmental review. This action by the Obama Administration withdrawing access to federally owned minerals scraps the review process and ignores public sentiment favoring a tough but balanced, science-based review by appropriate agencies. The November survey also found that 66 percent of respondents opposed federal agency actions to prohibit mining in the Superior National Forest.
Federal agencies and the Obama administration have chosen to ignore the voices of those who have the most at stake, who live and work within and surrounding the Superior National Forest. Rural America made it abundantly clear in the November elections that jobs matter. The skilled Minnesota workforce that believes in mining with the highest safety and environmental standards has just been told their jobs don’t matter.”
About Jobs for Minnesotans
Jobs for Minnesotans, a coalition representing business, labor and communities, supports statewide opportunities for prosperity and middle-class jobs from sustainable natural resource development in Minnesota. The organization is committed to the principle that our state can preserve both job opportunities and the environment for future generations. Jobs for Minnesotans was co-founded in 2012 by the Minnesota Building and Construction Trades Council representing 55,000 workers and the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce representing 2,300 companies and 500,000 employees. For more information, visit jobsforminnesotans.org, follow @JobsforMN on Twitter and find the coalition on Facebook.com/Jobs4MN.
Media Contact: Nancy Norr, Board Chair