Sending Office: Honorable Paul A. Gosar
Sent By:
Tanner.Hanson@mail.house.gov

Myth vs. Fact

Minnesota’s Economic Rights in the Superior National Forest (MINER) Act (H.R. 3905)

(Vote on amdt., final passage rescheduled for approx. 1:10 today per Whip)


False Claim: Mining will contaminate the Boundary Waters.

Truth: This bill alters no current environmental laws or protections. Mining companies will still have to comply with the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, NEPA and all state and federal laws.

Again, Minnesotans been mining the same sulfide ore body for nearly 150 years with zero damage to their water – Literally thousands of private wells drilled into the same ore body.

Remember that the Twin Metals project will be proposed as an underground mining project, with very minimal surface impacts. Opponents clearly want people to think the Twin Metals project will be some sort of massive open pit mining operation (They use pictures
of open pits, etc.).

Watch this video produced by the people of Minnesota
HERE
. In it, Dave Lislegard states that local communities want mining in Minnesota because it results in cleaner water following reclamation by the mining companies.

In fact, the city of Aurora has some of the cleanest water in Minnesota which comes from a reclaimed mine. Local communities are literally fighting to have mining because it results in cleaner drinking water for communities in the long-term.


False Claim: There is no such thing as a pollution-free sulfide-ore mine, the type of mine proposed by Twin Metals. 

Truth: There is no mine proposal or even a project vision for a mine project as near as ½ mile from the Boundary Waters as falsely claimed by anti-mining extremists. The Twin Metals project will be proposed as an underground mining project,
with very minimal surface impacts.

The sulfide content of the ores in the authorized mining area is .08 percent, within the legal limits. A Michigan mine has 30 percent sulfide content and they are successfully mining in exponentially higher sulfide content while still protecting the environment.
Minnesotans been mining the same sulfide ore body for nearly 150 years with zero damage to their water – Literally thousands of private wells drilled into the same ore body.


False Claims: Mining will occur in the Boundary Waters. The mine and leases go right up to the border of the Boundary Waters Wilderness Area (BWCAW).

Truth: The Mining Protection Area was established by Congress for the very purpose of protecting the Boundary Waters (area in red). No one is proposing to mine in the 1.1 million acre Boundary Waters Wilderness Area or surrounding buffer zones
(The buffer zone areas are in yellow on the below map).

H.R. 3905 explicitly prohibits mining in the Boundary Waters and buffer zones stating, “nothing should be construed to permit prospecting for development and utilization of mineral resources within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness or Mining Protection
Area
.” (Section 4(f)).

There is no mine proposal yet or even a project vision for a mine project as near as ½ mile from the BWCAW as falsely claimed. The Twin Metals project location is approximately 6 miles from the nearest BWCAW boundary. Proposals within the authorized mining
area (green area), including the Twin Metals project proposal, will have to be submitted to state and federal agencies for formal environmental review and permitting under applicable state and federal environmental laws. Therefore, any claims of specific impacts
before projects are even proposed are speculative and irresponsible. Any mining proposal will have to meet state and federal environmental standards and go through NEPA.

There are several companies exploring the green area, twice authorized for mining by Congress. Teck has nonferrous mineral holdings within the proposed withdrawal area from the previous administration, the potential development of which would be greatly impacted
by withdrawal. Encampment Minerals Inc. also has nonferrous mineral holdings within the withdrawal area and is awaiting federal agency action on a submitted Preference Right Lease application. Future expansion of the North Shore Mining taconite mine could
extend into the withdrawal area, and thus be impacted by withdrawal.

As Chairman Gosar said, green means go. Yellow and red mean absolutely no mining.


False Claim: The bill will cause harm to monuments throughout the country and the 1906 Antiquities Act.

Truth: Presidents from both sides of the aisle have used the stroke of a pen and the Antiquities to unilaterally lock up hundreds of millions of acres. President Obama abused the Antiquities Act more than any other president in history, designating
or expanding 34 national monuments and locking-up 553.6 million acres of total land and water. President Obama was not alone in his abuse though of the Antiquities Act. If you look at the boundaries of Ironwood National Monument designated by Clinton, it encircles
the Silver Bell Mine and several other mining claims. This was clearly a political designation in order to prevent mining. If this were not the case, the monument would be much smaller and only protect a few artifacts. Just about all national monument proclamations
explicitly prohibit mining.

Section 3 of the legislation requires Congressional approval before any lands within the national forest system in Minnesota can be designated as national monuments.
Section 3 only applies to the state of Minnesota and won’t impact any other states. Only two national monuments exist in Minnesota. Neither were designated under the 1906 Antiquities Act. They were both designated by Congress as still allowed by H.R.
3905.
The Grand Portage National Monument was established in 1960 by an act of Congress (P.L. 85-910) and the Pipestone National Monument established in 1937 by an act of Congress (The Act of August 25, 1937, Establishing the Pipestone and National
Monument).

Clearly, the last Administration demonstrated the lengths it would go to push its environmental agenda via the Antiquities Act. We are not opposed to the establishment of national monuments in Minnesota. Given the extensive use and abuse of the powers granted
to the executive under the law, however, we are forced to include this provision to ensure a future, hostile administration, cannot unilaterally undercut thousands of jobs and economic opportunities in our state.

The Antiquities Act provision is necessary to prevent future political abuse that would lock-up lands (Congress has twice authorized for mining) with the stroke of the pen from a future President. Article IV of the Constitution vests Congress with authority
over public lands.


False Claim: H.R. 3905 solely benefits a foreign mining company with a history of polluting.

Truth: Ask that of the American people. Ask the numerous members of Congress, more than 53 bipartisan state representatives, industry, education, labor, chambers of commerce, local citizens and more that support the bill.

Twin Metals is a Minnesota company with Minnesota employees, and has been part of the NE Minnesota community for 10 years. The company has invested more than $400 million in project development activities, investing in new facilities in the City of Ely, providing
local employment opportunities and supporting hundreds of local jobs in the construction, consulting and contracting sectors. Twin Metals has also contributed more than $320,000 to local philanthropic needs and organizations.

There are several other companies exploring the area that would have to adhere to all environmental standards if they opened a mine. Teck has nonferrous mineral holdings within the proposed withdrawal area, the potential development of which would be greatly
impacted by withdrawal. Encampment Minerals Inc. also has nonferrous mineral holdings within the withdrawal area and is awaiting federal agency action on a submitted Preference Right Lease application. Future expansion of the North Shore Mining taconite mine
could extend into the withdrawal area, and thus be impacted by withdrawal. Further, the withdrawal proposal will seriously hinder the state’s ability to seek mineral development of more than 90k acres of state school trust fund lands within the withdrawal
area.

Further, Antofagasta produces copper responsibly, putting people, safety and the environment first, and working closely with local communities to ensure that its mines are developed sustainably. Antofagasta is committed to open and continuous dialogue with
local communities and all stakeholders to find craft operations and solutions that minimize social and environmental impacts. Antofagasta adheres to all environmental laws as well as the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) Principles and the
United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, amongst others.


False Claim: H.R. 3905 stops an important two-year study of the risk of copper mining to the Boundary Waters, Quetico Park, and Voyageurs National Park.

Truth: This bill stops no environmental review process. The opposition forgets that mining in the forest will occur only after job creators have gone through stringent and lengthy environmental reviews including NEPA. The proposed withdrawal
immediately placed this vast area off limits to future mineral leasing, exploration and potential development for two years while the 20-year withdrawal is being considered without mining plans even being proposed. All this bill does is secure the opportunity
to present mining plans for an area already authorized for mining by Congress.


False Claim: H.R. 3905 is a radical jobs-killing bill.

Truth: The MINER Act is a responsible, jobs-creating bill. Not only will we see 17,000 new jobs in or related to mining, but the economic boost will propel a resurgence of greater Minnesota, ensuring everyone in the state and the nation truly
benefits from the hard work done by those in Northern Minnesota. And by protecting the Boundary Waters, the MINER Act ensures the thriving tourism industry and tranquil gem of Minnesota remains intact.

There are no objective economic studies of potential copper-nickel mining projects in NE Minnesota that predict job losses in the region’s tourism or other economic sectors. To the contrary, a recent economic study undertaken by the Praxis Strategy Group found
a positive correlation between mining jobs and tourism jobs in the region: “In 2015, the 4,226 jobs in the iron ore and copper and nickel ore sectors supported a significant number of jobs in tourism and recreation. Without this mining activity in the region,
the Duluth-Arrowhead region could expect to lose 415 jobs in food service, 79 jobs in all types of travel accommodations, 50 jobs in arts and sports sectors, and 45 jobs in amusement and recreation businesses.”

These are good-paying jobs, as the average annual mining wage in Minnesota was $78,635 in 2015. Meanwhile tourism jobs in Minnesota are seasonal and often bring in $15,000 per year. A labor union member accurately stated “tourism jobs are the desert, they look
good, taste good but you can’t live off them. Mining is the meat and potatoes.”

More than 50 percent of the 17k tourism jobs cited by anti-mining opponents are more than 100 miles away from the Boundary Waters. Responsible mining projects will increase jobs in the area and provide significant additional local dollars for regional/BWCA
area tourism and hospitality.

17,000 jobs, $3 billion for education, $1.5 billion in annual wages and $2.5 billion annually for our economy are the actual benefits of this bill.


False Claim: H.R. 3905 changes five federal laws for Minnesota’s national forests.

Truth: This bill alters no current environmental laws or protections. The Federal Land Policy and Management Act, NEPA, and all other laws still apply to Minnesota.

In 1950, Congress took action to make land available for mineral exploration and development within the Superior National Forest. Then, in 1978, Congress passed the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness Act, a compromise that prohibited mining within the 1.1
million acre Boundary Waters Wilderness Area but again specifically authorized mining in the Superior National Forest. The 1986 Forest Service and 2004 Forest Plans both concluded mining in this area is “a desired condition.”

The Mining Law of 1872 governs most mining on federal lands. However, the Weeks Act controls the projects in this area because they are located on acquired national forest land. Mineral leases on these lands, though not indefinite agreements, typically retain
a nondiscretionary right to renewal every 20 years. The two leases for the mineral deposit in question began in 1966 and were renewed in 1989 and again in 2004 without controversy.

McCollum claims H.R. 3905 specifically weakens provisions of NEPA. There are not any changes to NEPA in the bill.

The MINER Act halts last-minute political mineral withdrawals by requiring Congressional approval for any future withdrawal actions in Minnesota, renews two mineral leases that were denied for political reasons under the same terms they were renewed twice previously
and ensures any future mining projects will have to satisfy all existing environmental permitting requirements including NEPA.

Essentially, the bill rejects the political actions by the previous Administration and returns the conditions in Minnesota to the same conditions in place prior to these arbitrary actions not based on science.


False Claim: H.R. 3905 endangers the most-visited Wilderness in America, and will prevent outdoor opportunities for veterans and recreationalists.

Truth:  The MINER Act ensures the Boundary Waters remain protected, while giving those that shepherd and protect its beauty a say in what goes on in Washington. The true danger to the Boundary Waters and those who have found a way of life in
Northern Minnesota are the bureaucrats in Washington and at the Forest Service, who think they know better than the people’s elected representatives. If we aren’t careful, we will sacrifice our economy, way of life, and children’s future.

Section 4 of the bill states: “Nothing in this section may be construed as permitting the prospecting for development and utilization of mineral resources within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness or Mine Protection Area.”

No specific mining project proposals within the withdrawal area, including the Twin Metals project proposal, have been submitted to state and federal agencies for formal environmental review and permitting under applicable state and federal environmental laws.
Therefore, any claims of specific impacts are speculative and irresponsible. Any mining proposal will have to meet state and federal environmental standards as assessed by state and federal regulatory agencies before the proposal would be allowed to move forward.
The potential impacts of any mining proposal to private and public lands would be a major component of state and federal environmental review.

The bill is endorsed by conservationists, outdoor organizations and others who know the bill protects outdoor opportunities by explicitly preventing mining in the Boundary Waters.


False Claim: Minnesotans strongly oppose mining near the Boundary Waters than the total of those in favor of it.

Truth:  Minnesota’s Democrat Governor was for mining projects in the withdrawal area before he was against them. Several polls over the years consistently show strong support for copper-nickel mining in general and for allowing companies to
explore and propose projects. In November 2016, a poll of 400 registered voters in the 8th Congressional District found (among other results):

  •          By greater than a 3-1 margin survey respondents support environmentally-responsible mining in the region.
  •          By greater than 2-1 margins respondents support the building of new copper-nickel mines and believe copper-nickel mining can be done in an environmentally-responsible way.
  •          More than 60 percent support the TMM underground copper-nickel project.

In October 2013 a poll of more than 600 registered Minnesota voters statewide found (among other results):

  •          A majority of voters (56 percent) favor expanding Minnesota’s mining industry.
  •          A plurality of voters (48 percent) support expanding the copper-nickel mining industry in the state.

All mayors, state legislators and county commissioners that represent the Iron Range region and the area proposed for withdrawal are pro-mining advocates.

  •          53 bipartisan state legislators (including leadership of both parties) have endorsed the bill and support its passage.

False Claim: Many agencies and academic institutions have produced extensive scientific studies in the proposed Twin Metals copper mining district documenting the vulnerability of the Boundary Waters to sulfide-ore copper mining.”

Truth: The claim of determinative scientific studies related to the TMM project is FALSE. No scientific studies have been conducted that meet standards normally applied for supporting regulatory agency decisions, including the use of extensive
project-specific and site-specific data.

No specific mining project proposals within the withdrawal area, including the Twin Metals project proposal, have been submitted to state and federal agencies for formal environmental review and permitting under applicable state and federal environmental laws.
Therefore, any claims of specific impacts are speculative and irresponsible. Any mining proposal will have to meet state and federal environmental standards and go through NEPA. This bill alters no current environmental laws or protections.

Again, the sulfide content of the ores in the authorized mining area is .08 percent, within the legal limits. A Michigan has 30 percent sulfide content and they are successfully mining in exponentially higher sulfide content while still protecting the environment.

Minnesotans been mining the same sulfide ore body for nearly 150 years with zero damage to our water – Literally thousands of private wells drilled into the same ore body.


False Claim: H.R. 3905 would automatically grant a Chilean mining conglomerate near-perpetual leases in these locations, despite the fact the leases expired in 2014 and renewal was denied.

Truth: The Twin Metals leases would not be perpetual. In order to maintain the leases, Twin Metals would have to continue to meet all the lease and environmental requirements, as negotiated and agreed to by the federal agencies. In short,
Twin Metals would need to maintain the leases in good standing.

The Mining Law of 1872 governs most mining on federal lands. However, the Weeks Act controls the Twin Metals project because it is located on acquired national forest land. Mineral leases on these lands, though not indefinite agreements, typically retain
a nondiscretionary right to renewal every 20 years. The two leases for the mineral deposit in question began in 1966 and were renewed in 1989 and again in 2004 without controversy. When the current holder of the leases filed to renew, having spent more than
$400 million on project development, the Obama Administration denied the application for political reasons because they wanted to prevent mining.

Again, Twin Metals is a Minnesota company with Minnesota employees, and has been part of the NE Minnesota community for 10 years. The company has invested more than $400 million in project development activities, investing in new facilities in the City of
Ely, providing local employment opportunities and supporting hundreds of local jobs in the construction, consulting and contracting sectors. Twin Metals has also contributed more than $320,000 to local philanthropic needs and organizations.


False Claim: The proposed mineral withdrawal is ONLY for federal forest lands. Minnesota’s school trust fund lands are all located on state lands.

Truth: It is indisputable that the withdrawal affects more than the targeted 235,000 federal acres. Another 190,000 acres of state and federal lands are located within the proposed withdrawal area. The potential impacts to these non-federal
lands have been documented by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in maps and in their comments to the U.S. Forest Service (attached – see page 2

HERE
).

Also, in the most recent state mineral lease sale, the DNR offered no state leases for public bid within the proposed withdrawal area, but did offer leases outside of the withdrawal area but still within the BWCAW watershed. And further,
Encampment Minerals in late October turned back to the State of Minnesota state mineral leases held in the area of the proposed withdrawal and ceased plans for further investment and possible development. Encampment cited the uncertain regulatory impacts
of the withdrawal proposal as the reason for their action
(see attached letter

HERE
).

Dale Lueck, Chair of the Minnesota Legislative Permanent School Fund Commission, released a

press release
supporting the bill stating, “There are severe ramifications for Minnesota’s school trust lands located adjacent to the federal lands should the federal lease withdrawals stand. Over the long-term, Minnesota’s school children could be denied
billions of dollars in future royalty revenues for the state’s Permanent School Trust Lands.”

In fact, education will be significantly harmed as Minnesota is projected to lose up to $3 billion in royalty revenues for the State’s Permanent School Trust Fund that would support nearly 900,000 K-12 students statewide if the withdrawal application and
cancelled leases are not rejected.

Related Legislative Issues
Selected legislative information: Energy, Environment, Natural Resources
Related Bill Information
Bill Type: H.R.
Bill Number: 3905
Special Note:
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