Legislation advanced this week in the U.S. House that would require federal agencies to report to the Canadian government any potential environmental impacts of copper mining in the Rainy River watershed that flows north out of Minnesota into Ontario.
The wording, introduced by U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum, D-St. Paul, an opponent of copper mining in the region, is aimed at the proposed Twin Metals copper project near Ely that is planned along the Kawishiwi River just outside the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.
Water that flows by the proposed mine site then flows north, into the BWCAW and on into border lakes shared with Canada.
The wording was included in the State Department financing bill that passed the House Appropriations Committee.
Critics say the mine could pollute water in the area and despoil the wilderness. Supporters say the mine can be built without environmental damage while bolstering the region's economy.
The legislation would require the State Department to report to Canada on potential impacts of the mining on Canada and how the U.S. would monitor and mitigate the impact. Critics of copper mining note the Canadian Government had previously expressed concern over the proposed mining in both 2015 and again in January of 2019.