Last October, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) proposed to withdraw 225,000 acres of federally owned land and minerals in northeast Minnesota from future mining leasing and potential development.
This action launched an environmental assessment around the proposal. In late June, the draft environmental assessment was released and launched a 30-day comment period for public input on the draft assessment.
This action jeopardizes the future of statewide benefits from Minnesota’s mining industry, ignores established regulatory and environmental review processes, and will have a devastating impact on the creation of thousands of jobs in northeast Minnesota and the region’s communities, economy and mining industry. Specifically, the withdrawal now covers both copper-nickel and taconite mining in the draft.
If you support job creation and the future of mining in Minnesota, take action now!
Make your voice heard by providing public comments to the U.S. Forest Service through one of three ways by August 12, 2022:
- Electronic comments are preferred through the project website at https://go.usa.gov/xuH43.
- Comments may also be sent electronically to email@example.com.
- Written comments may be sent to Forest Headquarters, 8901 Grand Avenue Place, Duluth, MN 55808.
Please use (copy and paste) the below sample message as your comment’s starting point, amend as you see fit by the deadline – Friday, August, 12, 2022:
Subject: Rainy River Withdrawal Application Draft EA Comment
I oppose the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management recommending a withdrawal of lands and minerals in northeast Minnesota from future leasing and potential development. The draft Environmental Assessment (EA) does not meet the rigor of the full Environmental Impact Statement and permitting processes that are required by law for proposed mining projects to thoroughly examine the details of a mine proposal. The EA also does not take into account any of the science or data from the Twin Metals Minnesota project proposal – submitted in 2019 – that took more than 10 years of hydro-geological and environmental studies, engineering, community engagement and design.
If enacted, the withdrawal will cause the state of Minnesota to lose thousands of potential jobs that would result from future mining projects, billions of dollars in future investment in northeast Minnesota, and billions in potential revenues from mining that support the state’s K-12 education system through the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ School Trust Fund.
The targeted federal lands are in an area of historic mining activity where mining is currently allowed and encouraged by federal and state law. The withdrawal would provide no additional environmental protections than those that currently exist under state and federal law.
The Environmental Assessment is acting on a false presumption that any mining will pollute the Rainy River Watershed, basing these assumptions on studies with no credibility or applicability to our region. The only way to properly assess whether mining can occur safely is by thoroughly reviewing specific project proposals, as the nature of a project’s geology, environmental, and socioeconomic factors vary widely depending on where the project is located and its design. This clearly pre-determined draft EA doesn’t evaluate all the data available to determine if mining can be done safely.
The proposed withdrawal will also shut out a significant domestic source of critical minerals needed to combat the climate crisis – minerals that the U.S. is currently reliant on unpredictable and unstable foreign sources.
I urge the U.S. Forest Service reject this draft EA and its devastating impact on the future well-being of Minnesota citizens and communities.