My congressional colleague from Northeastern Minnesota has accused me of attempting to “sneak” language into an appropriations bill to prohibit the Department of the Interior and the Forest Service from reviewing a plan for a sulfide-ore copper mine in the Superior National Forest, footsteps from the 1.1 million-acre Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Let me be clear: there was no sneaking anything. I wrote the 174-page, $36.7 billion bill that funds environmental protection, federal public lands, Indian health and education, and the arts and humanities. Congress allocates federal spending; that is my job on the appropriations committee.
Minnesotans should know I will do everything I can in my role as an appropriations subcommittee chair to prevent Twin Metals from poisoning Minnesota waters and our national treasure, the BWCAW.
Further, there are no other mine plans under review in the Superior National Forest for my language to impact. Iron ore mines operating under existing plans within the Superior National Forest are not affected by this language. It is a bogus argument, just like the bogus claims that sulfide-ore copper mining is going to make America self-sufficient and contribute to our national security.
Antofagasta, the Chilean parent company of Twin Metals, recently signed an agreement to have its copper smelted in China, as Reuters reported. Why would we allow a toxic copper mine to be built on federal land, in a vital watershed, next to a pristine wilderness, just so a foreign company can ship the product overseas? My suggestion is to ask Congressman Stauber.
U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum
The writer represents Minnesota’s Fourth Congressional District and serves as chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies.