Betty McCollum

From the office of:

Betty McCollum

Sending Office: Honorable Betty McCollum
Sent By:

        Request for Cosponsor(s)

Cosponsor H.R. 5598

The Boundary Waters Wilderness Protection and Pollution Prevention Act

Cosponsors: Francis Rooney*, Raúl Grijalva*, Alan Lowenthal*, Dean Phillips*,
Fred Upton*, Gwen Moore, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Judy Chu, Jared Huffman, Ilhan Omar, Diana DeGette, Deb Haaland, Nanette Diaz Barragán, Bonnie Watson Coleman, Jamie Raskin, Alcee Hastings, Dan Kildee, Joe Neguse, Jan Schakowsky, Elissa Slotkin, Ed
Case, Ron Kind, Nydia Velázquez, Chuy García, Chellie Pingree, Grace Napolitano,  Abby Finkenauer, Mark Pocan, Steve Cohen, Cindy Axne, Andy Levin, Peter DeFazio, Matt Cartwright, Cheri Bustos, Anna Eshoo, Ruben Gallego, Earl Blumenauer

Endorsed by: Save the Boundary Waters, The Wilderness Society, National Resources Defense Council, Earth Justice, National Parks Conservation Association, Voyageurs National Park Association, American Rivers, Sierra Club, Back Country Hunters, Friends of
the Boundary Waters, Bois Forte Band, Fond du Lac, Grand Portage, Leech Lake, Mille Lacs, White Earth

Dear Colleague,

Please join me in becoming a cosponsor the Boundary Waters Wilderness Protection and Pollution Prevention Act (H.R. 5598), which permanently withdraws 234,328 acres of federal land and waters within the Superior National Forest from risky sulfide-ore
copper mining. The bill has bipartisan support, and is supported by local, regional, and national advocacy groups in favor of permanently protecting these waters.

In 2016, after 50 years of no mining, the U.S. Forest Service issued a Record of Decision finding that sulfide-ore copper mining in the same watershed as the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) risked “harm to this unique, iconic, and irreplaceable
wilderness area.” After the Forest Service denied its consent to the renewal of mineral leases, the agency applied for a mineral withdrawal of 234,328 acres of National Forest lands in the headwaters of the BWCAW and Voyageurs National Park, launching a 24-month
environmental review study. In 2018, approximately 20 months into the 24-month review period of the Rainy River Water-shed mineral withdrawal proposal, the Department of Agriculture abruptly abandoned the study. Despite multiple directives from Congress, the
results of the study have still not been released. In 2019, the Bureau of Land Management restored the cancelled and expired mineral leases to Twin Metals Minnesota, a subsidiary of a Chilean-owned mining company.

H.R. 5598 would permanently withdraw 234,328 acres of Federal land and waters within the portion of the Superior National Forest from the federal mining program. The bill would ban sulfide-ore copper mining in a portion of the water-rich ecosystem
that contains 20% of the freshwater in the National Forest System.

This bill only applies to federal lands and minerals within the Rainy River Drainage Basin – where the surface waters and groundwater flows directly into the Boundary Waters and Voyageurs National Park.

Because the Boundary Waters Wilderness Protection and Pollution Prevention Act is focused on sulfide-ore copper mining in the headwaters of the Boundary Waters and Voyageurs National Park, it:

  • Does not limit taconite or iron-ore mining anywhere in the State of Minnesota
  • Does not affect sulfide-ore copper mining projects outside
    the Rainy River Drainage Basin 
  • Does not interfere with state mineral leasing, state environmental regulations, or state permitting processes

The Boundary Waters are intact today because of more than a century of protections by the State of Minnesota and the U.S. government.
The Boundary Waters Wilderness Protection and Pollution Prevention Act will ensure these unique and valuable natural resources remain pristine for generations to come.

For additional information or to be a cosponsor, please contact Trish Palermo at


Betty McCollum
Member of Congress



Related Legislative Issues

Selected legislative information: Environment, Foreign Affairs, Natural Resources, Science

Related Bill Information

Bill Type: H.R.
Bill Type: 5598
Special Note:

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