Sending Office: Honorable Tom Emmer
We write to provide full information regarding the proposed withdrawal action in the Superior National Forest (SNF) in Minnesota, and urge you to refrain from signing onto letters in support of further delaying the process.
As Minnesotans, we have a shared and long-standing interest in protecting the lands and waters of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCA). In fact, one of us was here and helped lead the legislative effort to protect the BWCA in 1978 when mining,
forestry and most commercial activities were explicitly prohibited in the BWCA – which is nearly one third (1.1 million acres) of the Superior National Forest.
The law, legislative history, and subsequent administrative actions also made it clear that mining, forestry and other multiple use activities should continue in the remaining two million acres of the SNF. In fact, the Forest Service’s management plan described
mining and mineral development as a “desired condition” in the Forest.
It cannot be overstated that the 1978 compromise was not struck lightly, and was made after years of emotional debate in Washington and contentious field hearings in Minnesota. Going back on our agreement now and pre-emptively blocking the exploration and
development of mineral resources in the Forest – as called for the proposed withdrawal – is misguided and should be rejected.
To be clear, the lands in question are not in the BWCA, nor would a repeal of the withdrawal allow for any mining activity to take place in the BWCA. There are no formally proposed mining projects in the Superior National Forest that would affect the lands
of the BWCA or the Rainy River–Headwaters Watershed, which also includes Voyageurs National Park. The environmental assessment associated with the withdrawal is therefore examining the hypothetical effects of mining without a full understanding of what technology
or engineering would be employed to mine in accordance with state and federal laws and protect the BWCA. In fact, a comprehensive and rigorous study under the National Environmental Policy Act will still occur if and when any mining project is proposed.
Thousands of good-paying jobs are on the line in our state if the withdrawal is allowed to continue. Further, 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 is not rejected.
Opposition to this politically-motivated action (formally proposed
January 19th, 2017, the day before the end of the outgoing administration) includes
commerce, unions (carpenters,
general contractors, and
school advocacy organizations (receipts of development provide funding for Minnesota schools), and
We urge you to listen to these local leaders, who overwhelmingly support stopping this withdrawal, which aligns with
polling done across the entire state. If you have further questions, please contact our staff (Landon Zinda with Rep. Emmer or
Will Mitchell with Rep. Nolan).
Thank you for your consideration.
Tom Emmer Richard M. Nolan
Member of Congress Member of Congress
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