This is in response to the Oct. 6 commentary in the News Tribune by U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, headlined, “‘Made in America’ starts with Minnesota mining.”
In May 2019, federal agencies gave away the nation’s minerals in the Superior National Forest at the edge of the Boundary Waters to a foreign mining conglomerate, Antofagasta, a company that has no fidelity or loyalty to the United States. They stripped out long-standing lease provisions that required the mining company to return to the United States the same quantity of copper and nickel it shipped out of the country for processing. Antofagasta has long-term contracts with mineral processors located in China; all of its minerals are shipped overseas for this purpose.
Executive orders signed by President Donald Trump do not return to the American people the copper and nickel given away to Antofagasta. Nor do they require Antofagasta to process minerals from mines in the Superior National Forest in the United States.
Instead, President Trump's executive orders signal his administration’s highest priority for America’s public lands is mining, even those public lands that form the headwaters of the Boundary Waters, a pristine lakeland wilderness that is extensively crisscrossed with lakes, rivers, and wetlands and a place where clean water is an imperative for the survival of the ecosystem and the regional economy.
The writer is the national chair of the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters group.