Federal Government Vetoes Twin Metals Leases, Moves to Permanently Protect BWCA

DULUTH, MINNESOTA – The Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness applauds the decision by federal agencies to deny Twin Metals Minnesota’s application to extend two federal mineral leases. This decision comes after an extensive public input period where over 70,000 people asked the federal government to deny the lease extension. Hundreds of people showed up to public meetings in Duluth and Ely to express their concerns.

The Department of Interior also announced it has received an application from the U.S. Forest Service to withdraw federal mineral rights in the Boundary Waters watershed. This starts a public review process to analyze withdrawing federal mineral rights for a twenty-year period. A public input period on this permanent protection for the Boundary Waters will begin once notice is published in the Federal Register and will last ninety days. This review also creates a two-year “time out” when no new federal mineral leases can be issued.

“These actions happened because tens of thousands of people spoke up against locating a sulfide mine on the edge of America’s most popular wilderness area,” stated Executive Director Paul Danicic. “We thank the U.S. Forest Service for listening to their concerns and making a decision that protects the Boundary Waters from Twin Metals’ dangerous proposal. Now it’s critical that everybody who cares for the Boundary Waters join us and show the federal government how many people support permanently protecting the Boundary Waters from sulfide mining pollution.“

Twin Metals Minnesota had sought a third ten-year extension of these mineral leases. They were first issued in 1966, before the passage of modern environmental laws and have never been analyzed for their environmental impact. Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton noted in March 2016 that there is an “inherent risk” that a sulfide mine next to the BWCA would pollute this iconic wilderness area. Sulfide mining has polluted water everywhere it has been attempted, and the risk is even greater in the water-rich environment of northern Minnesota.

“By denying the extension of Twin Metals’ fifty year-old leases, the Department of Interior has taken a big step forward in protecting the Boundary Waters Wilderness. However, the need to permanently protect the Boundary Waters remains,” Danicic concluded.

MORE INFO: For more information or to set up an interview with a spokesperson from Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness, please contact Aaron Klemz (aaron@friends-bwca.org, 763-788-0282)

Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness is celebrating 40 years of protecting, preserving and restoring the Boundary Waters Wilderness and the Quetico-Superior ecosystem.

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