Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters
American Rivers || Black Hills Clean Water Alliance || Center for Biological Diversity Clean Water Action || Climate Hawks Vote || Coalition To Protect America’s National Parks || Coalition to SAVE the Menominee River, Inc. || Colorado State Rams for the Boundary Waters Conservatives for Responsible Stewardship || Crow River Trail Guards || Defenders of Wildlife Earthjustice || Earthworks || Environment America || Environment Minnesota || Environmental Law & Policy Center || Environmental Protection Information Center || Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness || Friends of the Earth || Friends of the Kalmopsis || Great Old Broads for Wilderness Wild Waters Broadband – Minnesota || GreenLatinos || Information Network for Responsible Mining || Izaak Walton League of America Keep It Public || Klamath Forest Alliance || LEAD Agency, Inc./Grand Riverkeeper League of Conservation Voters || Lynn Canal Conservation || Malach Consulting Milwaukee Riverkeeper || Mining Impact Coalition of Wisconsin || Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy || Minnesota Wild Waters Broadband National Parks Conservation Association || Natural Resources Defense Council Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness || Olive Democrats, West Shokan, NY Quiet Use Coalition || Rocky Mountain Recreation Initiative || Sierra Club || Sierra Club North Star Chapter || Silver Valley Community Resource Center South San Juan Broadband, Great Old Broads for Wilderness || The Conservation Alliance || The Lands Council || The Wilderness Society Voyageur Outward Bound School || Voyageurs National Park Association || J. McCabe Chapter, Izaak Walton League of America Wilderness Watch || Winter Wildlands Alliance
September 30th, 2020 Dear Representative,
On behalf of our millions of members and supporters across the country, we, the undersigned organizations, urge you to support H.R. 5598 Boundary Waters Wilderness Protection and Pollution Prevention Act now before the Natural Resources Committee. H.R. 5598 was introduced by Representative Betty McCollum (D-MN), Representative Francis Rooney (R-FL), Representative Dean Phillips (D-MN), Representative Fred Upton (R-MI), Representative Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) and Representative Alan Lowenthal (D-CA). This important bi-partisan legislation would permanently protect the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Voyageurs National Park, Canada’s Quetico Park, and their headwaters in the Superior National Forest from harmful and toxic mineral extraction that would irreparably pollute this pristine watershed for future generations.
Located in Northeastern Minnesota, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is a national treasure of 1.1 million acres of pristine interconnected lakes, rivers and wetlands in the Superior National Forest. The Boundary Waters is contiguous with Ontario’s Quetico Provincial Park and upstream of Minnesota’s Voyageurs National Park. Enjoyed as the most visited Wilderness in the country, generations of Americans have developed a lifelong love of nature through superb camping, fishing, canoeing, and hiking experiences. The love for the Boundary Waters also powers a strong and enduring outdoor recreation economy in Northeastern Minnesota responsible for 17,000 jobs and $913 million in sales annually. This includes the many businesses we have created and grown, which will be seriously damaged if a mine goes forward. The Boundary Waters’ tranquil lakes, forests, trails, and more than 1,200 miles of canoe routes oﬀer unparalleled recreation, but also provide critical habitat for fish and wildlife such as lake trout, moose, and the federally-listed Canada lynx.
This incredible region is now threatened by a foreign mining company. Antofagasta’s Twin Metals LLC proposes to develop a sulfide-ore copper mine in the watershed upstream of the Boundary Waters, Quetico Park, and Voyageurs National Park. The current administration has shown an irrational drive to allow this sulfide-ore copper mining to be sited in this extremely valuable and yet highly vulnerable protected landscape.
In 2016 the Forest Service determined that sulfide-ore copper mining posed an unacceptable risk of permanent harm to the Boundary Waters and downstream areas, and two federal mineral leases were terminated. In addition, the Forest Service applied for a 20-year mineral withdrawal of 234,328 acres of Superior National Forest lands and minerals from the federal mining program, thus launching a 24-month environmental review of the dangers of sulfide-ore copper mining upstream of these three protected landscapes.
Unfortunately the Trump administration reversed the cancellation of two federal mineral leases in order to allow this misguided mine plan to move forward. In September 2018, the U.S. Department of Agriculture cancelled the two year environmental assessment of sulfide-ore copper mining in the watershed of the Boundary Waters and the application for 20-year mineral withdrawal. The administration has refused to release a near-final draft of the environmental assessment of the risks of copper mining and the underlying reports to Congress, likely because the science from the review would show the withdrawal was appropriate and necessary.
In May 2019, the U.S. Department of Interior renewed the two mineral leases that had been cancelled in 2016 because of the risk they posed to the Boundary Waters and the downstream parks. This renewal paves the way for Antofagasta’s Twin Metals to proceed with a mine plan. In December 2019, Twin Metals submitted a mine plan to the BLM, a pivotal step in driving forward a mine that would pollute the Boundary Waters, Quetico Park, and Voyageurs National Park with toxic chemicals and pollutants. Empty promises of environmentally-friendly and modern mining techniques hide the dirty truth about the proposed mine: peer-reviewed science proves that a Twin Metals mine would result in permanent damage to these protected national (and international) treasures.
Today, our nation has the opportunity to permanently protect one of the most pristine ecosystems and the cleanest water in the country. The Boundary Waters, Quetico Park, and Voyageurs National Park ecosystem are not just places, they are a way of life for scores of thousands of Minnesotans, Americans, Canadians, and visitors from across the globe who come to experience the beautiful lakes and unspoiled rivers. This is why permanent protection has the support of a wide coalition of organizations, individuals, businesses, and elected oﬃcials across the political spectrum representing outdoor recreationists, conservationists, sportsmen and women, businesses, and many others.
According to a 2020 poll conducted by Anzalone Liszt Grove, nearly 70% of registered voters in Minnesota want permanent protections from sulfide-ore copper mining for the Boundary Waters. This wild and special place deserves permanent protection from short term extractive interests that will ravage the land and pollute the water for the profit of a few, at the environmental, public health, and economic cost of many. We implore you to support H.R. 5598 in committee to ensure this incredible region gets the permanent protection it deserves.
Sincerely the undersigned organizations,
Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters
Black Hills Clean Water Alliance
Center for Biological Diversity
Clean Water Action
Climate Hawks Vote
Coalition To Protect America’s National Parks
Coalition to SAVE the Menominee River, Inc.
Colorado State Rams for the Boundary Waters
Conservatives for Responsible Stewardship
Crow River Trail Guards
Defenders of Wildlife
Environmental Law & Policy Center
Environmental Protection Information Center
Friends of the Boundary Waters
Wilderness Friends of the Earth
Friends of the Kalmopsis
Great Old Broads for Wilderness
Wild Waters Broadband – Minnesota
Information Network for Responsible Mining
Izaak Walton League of America
Keep It Public
Klamath Forest Alliance
LEAD Agency, Inc./Grand Riverkeeper
League of Conservation Voters
Lynn Canal Conservation
Mining Impact Coalition of Wisconsin
Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy
Minnesota Wild Waters Broadband
National Parks Conservation Association
Natural Resources Defense Council
Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness
Olive Democrats, West Shokan, NY
Quiet Use Coalition
Rocky Mountain Recreation Initiative
Sierra Club North Star Chapter
Silver Valley Community Resource Center
South San Juan Broadband, Great Old Broads for Wilderness
The Conservation Alliance
The Lands Council
The Wilderness Society Voyageur Outward BoundSchool|
Voyageurs National Park Association
J. McCabe Chapter, Izaak Walton League of America
Winter Wildlands Alliance