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Provision Would Require Report on Potential Mine Impact on Canada

A provision in a budget bill would require a State Department report on a mine's possible impacts on Quetico Provincial Park. A provision in a budget bill would require a State Department report on a mine's possible impacts on Quetico Provincial Park. |  Photo: Jon Ellis/WDIO-TV, file

Updated: May 16, 2019 06:10 PM

A provision that passed a House committee Thursday would require the State Department to prepare a report on how Minnesota-Ontario border waters might be impacted by potential pollution from the proposed Twin Metals mine.

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The language from Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minnesota) is included in a budget bill approved by the Appropriations Committee, of which McCollum is a member.  The provision says that under the 1909 Boundary Waters Treaty, Canada must be informed of the copper-nickel mine's potential impact on Quetico Provincial Park, which is north of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area and in the same watershed.

The measure would require the State Department to prepare a report detailing the hydrology of the Rainy River Drainage Basin, the federal government's plans to monitor and mitigate the risk of drainage from mines in the Superior National Forest, and how the U.S. will inform Canada about the potential of pollution.

The approval of the measure came a day after the Bureau of Land Management renewed mineral rights leases for Twin Metals.

"I strongly condemn the Department of Interior's decision to issue these leases, and I will fight back alongside the environmental community, job creators in the outdoor recreation industry, and all Americans who value wilderness, pollution-free spaces, and a sustainable economy," McCollum said in a news release Wednesday.

Rep. Pete Stauber (R-Minnesota), who was present for the signing of the renewed mineral rights leases, said 21st century technology will allow responsible mining.

“Rep. McCollum's anti-mining amendment is a backhanded attempt to force a radical, extreme policy that ignores the will of my constituents by halting mining in northern Minnesota and robbing our communities of job growth and economic prosperity," Stauber said in a statement.

Stauber said that "radical Twin Cities activists" are ignoring the needs of miners, union members, and their families.

In January, Global Affairs Canada sent the BLM a letter mentioning the 1909 treaty and saying Canada is concerned about potential contamination of boundary waters.  The letter asked the BLM to explain how regulators will review possible cross-border impacts and how Canada would be involved in the process.

Copyright 2019 WDIO-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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