Updated: Nolan Outreach to Trump Administration on Mining Draws Fire, Protest Held in Duluth

February 02, 2017 07:34 PM

U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan has asked the federal government to reverse an Obama administration decision to block minerals exploration and mining in more than 234,000 acres of the Superior National Forest near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area.

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That has drawn the ire of the Save The Boundary Waters folks from around the Northland. About 60 people showed up to protest in front of Nolan's Duluth office on Thursday.

Steve Piragis, the owner of Piragis Northwoods Company, said that they agree with Nolan on traditional taconite mining. But not the proposed copper nickel mining.

"We represent thousands more people across northern Minnesota who depend on clean water from the Boundary Waters," he told the crowd. "Copper kills jobs. We don't want to be displaced by a boom and bust mining economy."

Another outfitter, Jason Zabokrtsky, said, "I just want to know why Nolan is afraid of science, afraid of comment, and afraid of asking questions. Do we want America's most toxic industry, right next to the Boundary Waters? Is that the right place? No!"

The government's plan jeopardizes the proposed Twin Metals mine and potentially other projects.

Nolan was in D.C., because the House is in session. His office did send us a taped statement. He said he is committed to both jobs and the environment. But he remained steadfast in his opposition to withdrawing lands from exploration.

"The fact is, denying approval of any type of business development project before you know the details, the science, the abatement, what are the effects, defies good common sense," he said.

Nolan points out that he's an original co-sponsor of the 1970s legislation creating the BWCA as a wilderness area, and says he is committed to protecting the environment.


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