July 8, 2024

Dear members of the House Appropriations Committee,

On behalf of our millions of members and supporters, the following 65 organizations call on you to oppose the following sections, and all anti-environmental riders, of the Fiscal Year 2025 Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations legislation.

Sec. 139
This provision would prevent the BLM from implementing President Biden’s October 2021 Presidential Proclamation, which restored the historic boundaries of the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. In place, this provision would force BLM to operate under the Trump administration’s February 2020 resource management plan, which shrunk the size of the National Monument by 50 percent from its originally designated size. If this provision were to become law, mining and oil and gas exploration would be allowed in areas of immense historic value, sensitive desert ecosystems, and on hundreds of thousands of acres of lands currently off limits to extractive use.

Sec. 144
This provision interferes with our independent judiciary by imposing arbitrary timelines that will shortcut compliance with applicable environmental laws and regulations. The proposed project behind this rider—the Caldwell Canyon phosphorous-phosphate mine proposed by Bayer’s agriculture division—would mine a common mineral used in pesticide production. The mining project would be built on irreplaceable habitat for a deeply imperiled species and the mineral processing will lead to decades of additional water pollution. The provision also presumes that substantive harm from the proposed mine and related facilities can be cured despite violating laws.

Sec. 151
This section would block the implementation of the Biden administration’s Interagency Working Group on Mining Laws, Regulations and Permitting (IWG) recommendations released in 2023. The IWG’s recommendations include the need for Congress to update the 1872 mining law to address modern realities and create a leasing system for hardrock minerals. Additionally, the report offers recommendations to address historic inequities in hardrock mining practices. Key among IWG’s proposals are royalties as a means to alleviate past negative impacts, such as cleaning up abandoned mines, as well as to address present needs, such as technical assistance grants for Tribes and communities.

Sec. 451
This section would initiate an unprecedented, de facto giveaway of America’s cherished public lands to mining corporations, upending and reversing over one hundred years of public land law precedent. Under the bill, anyone—for a nominal fee—gains permanent rights to occupy land, construct massive waste dumps, and build roads and pipelines across public lands to the detriment of all other values. This would preclude all other types of development and use, including renewable energy projects, recreation, and traditional cultural uses. This section confers upon mining claimants (including international mining conglomerates) a right to permanently occupy federal public lands. If an alternative use—like an electric transmission line or a renewable energy project—needed to cross “claimed” public lands, mining companies could extract large sums of money from the federal government in exchange for giving up their claim.

This section would further tip the scales away from communities, the environment, and our clean energy future—giving the mining industry the power to dictate how we use our public lands. Instead, Congress should work to balance our nation’s clean energy mineral needs with all other public land uses, such as for renewable energy projects, cultural and historical resources, ranching, recreation, water resources, and wildlife. We strongly urge the Committee to strike this section.

Sec. 452
This section would reverse the Biden administration’s withdrawal of 225,504 acres of federal public land adjacent to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in northeastern Minnesota. This action would put at risk America’s most visited wilderness area by opening the headwaters of the Boundary Waters and Voyageurs National Park to sulfide-ore copper mining—a destructive and poisonous type of mining that has never been done before in Minnesota. In early 2023, the U.S. Forest Service released an Environmental Assessment comprising all available science, economics, public health, and public opinion, and found that this type of
mining would cause irreversible damage to the Boundary Waters and Voyageurs National Park. Secretary Haaland then finalized a 20-year mineral withdrawal on federal lands and minerals in the watershed. Efforts to undo the Department of Interior’s 20 year withdrawal go directly against the robust science, overwhelming public support, and the sound legal basis of Secretary Haaland’s decision. We strongly urge the Committee to strike this section.

Sec. 453
This section would needlessly reinstate the two canceled mineral leases in the Superior National Forest, opening the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and Voyageurs National Park to pollution from sulfide-ore copper mining. Following a robust, science-based process, the Biden administration canceled the remaining leases in this area in early 2022. The science is clear: pollution and destruction that sulfide-ore copper mining on upstream lands and waters would flow directly into the Boundary Waters and into Voyageurs National Park and Canadian lands and waters as well. We strongly urge the Committee to strike this section.

Sec. 462
This section would prevent any administrative (federal agency) withdrawal from occurring. Administrative withdrawals, which are capped at 20 years, are rare, but extremely important and have been used to protect special and sacred places such as the Grand Canyon and the Boundary

We urge the Committee to reject the above sections as you consider the Fiscal Year 2025 Appropriations legislation.


Alaska Community Action on Toxics
Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association
Alaska Wilderness League
Arizona Mining Reform Coalition
Black Hills Clean Water Alliance
Californians for Western Wilderness
Center for Biological Diversity
Citizens to Protect Smith Valley (NV)
Clean Water Legacy
Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks
Conservation Lands Foundation
Conservation Northwest
Endangered Species Coalition
Environment America
Environmental Action
Environmental Law & Policy Center
Environmental Protection Information Center – EPIC
Fair Mining Collaborative
Franciscan Action Network
Friends of the Earth
Friends of the Kalmiopsis
Friends of the Sonoran Desert
Gila Resources Information Project
Grand Canyon Trust
Great Basin Water Network
Healthy Environment Alliance of Utah (HEAL UT)
Idaho Rivers United
Information Network for Responsible Mining
Kalmiopsis Audubon Society
Klamath Forest Alliance
Laguna Acoma Coalition For A Safe Environment
League of Conservation Voters
Los Padres ForestWatch
Lutefisk Technologies, Inc.
Malach Consulting
Mennonite Central Committee U.S.
Michigan League of Conservation Voters
Mining Impact Coalition of Wisconsin
Multicultural Alliance for a Safe Environment
Natural Resources Defense Council
NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice
New Mexico & El Paso Interfaith Power and Light
New Mexico Wildlife Federation
Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness
Okanogan Highlands Alliance
Patagonia Area Resource Alliance
Rock Creek Alliance
Save Lake Superior Association
Save Our Cabinets
Save Our Sky Blue Waters
Sierra Club Grand Canyon
Sisters of Mercy of the Americas Justice Team
Soda Mountain Wilderness Council
Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance
Statewide Organizing for Community eMpowerment (SOCM)
The Wilderness Society
Trustees for Alaska
Union of Concerned Scientists
Uranium Watch
Weber Sustainability Consulting
Western Watersheds Project