NPCA submitted the following position to members of the House Committee on Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources.
NPCA urges members to oppose H.R. 3195, that seeks to overturn Public Land Order 7917, the 20-year mineral withdrawal in the watershed of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and Voyageurs National Park.
NPCA supports the 20-year withdrawal and will continue to seek permanent protections for this watershed against harmful mining projects. Public Land Order 7917 comes after a thorough environmental assessment demonstrated the risks sulfide mining poses to the Rainy River watershed in Minnesota, which includes Voyageurs National Park and Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. An NPCA hydrology report put a spotlight on the dangers mining activities pose, finding that sulfide mines as far as 100 miles upstream threaten the connected waterways in and around Voyageurs National Park. Even small amounts of this pollution are detrimental to public health and the world-class fishing, recreation and wildlife Voyageurs is known for.
Proponents of the Twin Metals mine in the withdrawn area argue that the project could be an important source of critical minerals, including copper and nickel, which are necessary for a variety of industries including renewable energy and electric vehicles. While NPCA understands that there is necessary demand for these minerals, the mining for these clean energy minerals must be done responsibly with the highest environmental safeguards and with the greatest consideration for national parks, special places, sacred sites and local communities. The best available science has shown that the Rainy River watershed, including Voyageurs National Park, is too sensitive a landscape for mining.
H.R. 3195 would roll back protections for the watershed by undoing the mineral withdrawal, reinstating mineral leases, fast-tracking environmental reviews and blocking any judicial review. With current technology and regulatory systems, there is no better way to protect this irreplaceable landscape than withdrawing it from mineral activities. Therefore, NPCA urges opposition to H.R. 3195 so that we can continue to protect the broader park ecosystem now and for years to come.
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Campaign Director, Midwest Region