Minnesota U.S. Reps. Tom Emmer and Rick Nolan late Wednesday successfully added an amendment to a House appropriations bill to defund a proposed U.S. Forest Service study of all mining near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.
The study was proposed earlier this year, along with a moratorium on mining near the BWCAW, a move that would stifle the proposed Twin Metals copper mine along the Kawishiwi River southeast of Ely.
The Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management also denied Twin Metals permits needed to prospect or mine on federal land in the area.
Amendment No. 70 to the Interior Environment Appropriations portion of the omnibus bill prohibits the Forest Service from spending any money on the study.
The full bill passed a House vote late Thursday.
“Instead of following the established process and allowing citizens and scientists to decide the future of the Boundary Waters Wilderness, this amendment uses closed-door tactics to undermine an environmental review process that Minnesotans overwhelmingly support,” the Campaign to Save The Boundary Waters Wilderness said in a statement.
Nolan said in a statement Thursday that the amendment “upholds the legislative intent and history surrounding the several laws establishing the BWCA,” and that while most commercial activities are prohibited within the Boundary Waters, the “law and legislative history also made it clear that mining, forestry and other multiple use activities were explicitly to be allowed in the remaining two million acres” of the Superior National Forest.
Nolan, D-Crosby, and Emmer, a Twin Cities Republican, also have proposed legislation to force the Forest Service to give Twin Metals the permits to continue exploring in the area.