(Courtesy of the Congressional Western Caucus)
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Members of the Western Caucus released the following statements after sending a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request and letter urging further investigation of an Obama administration scandal-plagued land grab in northern Minnesota:
Congressional Western Caucus Chairman Paul Gosar (AZ-04): “President Obama’s politically motivated land grab in northern Minnesota was not merit based and was another misguided attempt to appease anti-mining extremists during the final hours of his presidency. Emails from Democratic Senator Klobachur prove this fact. Today, my colleagues and I demanded documents and communications related to this land grab as we continue to pull back the curtain on the unusually shady practices of the Obama administration’s final days. I applaud Reps. Stauber and Emmer for their leadership in exposing this scandal and for seeking to provide the truth to the people of Minnesota. 17,000 jobs, $3 billion for education, $1.5 billion in annual wages, $2.5 billion annually for our economy and a total of four billion tons of strategic-and-critical-mineral-containing ore were at risk if these political anti-mining actions by the Obama administration were not over overturned.”
Rep. Pete Stauber (MN-08): “I am glad to join Ranking Republican Bishop of the House Natural Resources Committee, Ranking Republican Gosar of the Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee, and Ranking Republican Gohmert of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee in uncovering the truth about these politically-motivated actions by the Obama Administration. I agree with Senator Klobuchar and others in the Minnesota delegation that this mineral withdrawal was clearly a subversion of the process. Twin Metals will offer a mine plan of operation in the coming months, illustrating their intention to follow our environmental laws, the strongest in the world. I look forward to these documents coming to light so our family, friends, and neighbors will have the opportunity to work in high-wage jobs in our home.”
Rep. Tom Emmer (MN-06): “The decision to withdraw hundreds of thousands of acres of Minnesota from development was made just days before the Obama administration left office. This clearly political action blocked Minnesota’s right to demonstrate that we can utilize our resources while preserving our state’s beauty. I am proud to have worked to reverse this decision and let the normal environmental review process continue. I appreciate Congressman Stauber and the administration’s ongoing efforts to bring jobs and economic development to Minnesota.”
Today, Members of the Western Caucus led two efforts urging further investigation of an Obama administration scandal-plagued land grab in northern Minnesota.
The first effort was a FOIA request sent to the Department of the Interior seeking all documents and communications involving federal agency employees and external organizations (including environmental and conservation groups) relating to two lease denials and a mineral withdrawal in northern Minnesota imposed by the Obama administration.
The second letter sent to the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chairman TJ Cox urging investigation of this matter.
These investigative requests are in response to recently-disclosed findings that the Obama administration misled Congress while acting in the interests of unnamed “activists” by initiating a bad faith environmental review designed to reach a predetermined outcome and by denying two noncontroversial leases, preventing responsible mining in an area twice authorized by Congress for such activity. In contrast, the Trump Administration acted based on policy merits to overturn the politically motivated Obama land grab.
Kim Strassel of the Wall Street Journal recently reported on emails obtained from Democratic U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (MN) to then then-Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack which stated: “Trump will reverse this. When you guys leave and are out talking about a job message for rural America, I will be left with the mess and dealing with the actual jobs. But you guys sure got a good story in the New York Times. It should have been handled through the normal process. It wasn’t… I am not for or against this project but I just wanted a fair process based on science that told us the truth. That is not how this feels.”
Signatories include: House Committee on Natural Resources Ranking Republican Rob Bishop (UT-01), Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Ranking Republican Louie Gohmert (TX-01), Subcommittee on Energy and Minerals Ranking Republican Paul Gosar (AZ-04) and U.S. Rep. Pete Stauber (MN-08).
In the waning days of the Obama Administration, federal land management agencies took several actions that would decimate local economies, stifle job creation and cause significant harm to K-12 education in northern Minnesota.
Specifically, the Obama Administration’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) inappropriately rejected Twin Metals Minnesota’s application to renew two hard rock mineral leases in Minnesota’s Superior National Forest – leases that were signed in 1966 and renewed without controversy in 1989 and 2004.
In conjunction with cancelling these leases, on January 19th, 2017, the day before President Trump was sworn in, the previous administration published a 234,328-acre federal mineral withdrawal application in the Federal Register, to restrict for a 20-year moratorium, lands within the Superior National Forest in Northern Minnesota.
This action immediately placed this vast area off limits to future mineral leasing, exploration and potential development for two years while a 20-year withdrawal was being considered. The total withdrawal application boundary spanned approximately 425,000 acres and included 95,000 acres of state school trust fund lands.
The Western Caucus has played a key role in correcting these injustices. In June of 2017, Reps. Paul Gosar, Tom Emmer and Bruce Westerman toured several mining operations, held a roundtable and visited the proposed federal withdrawal area. The comments they heard on the ground from American families, businesses and individuals who want good-paying jobs and support mining projects in the area led to a Congressional effort to overturn the Obama administration’s land grab.
On November 30, 2017, the House passed H.R. 3905, the "Minnesota's Economic Rights in the Superior National Forest Act" which was introduced by Rep. Tom Emmer and cosponsored by numerous members of the Western Caucus. This bill’s primary purpose was to overturn the Obama Administration's withdrawal in the Superior National Forest and reinstate the two leases that were arbitrarily cancelled. In June of 2019, Rep. Stauber organized a follow-up mining tour and briefings for Western Caucus on this issue. Rep. Stauber has also led multiple initiatives to prevent Democratic Members from imposing unnecessary riders that would undermine these important projects and reinstate the political policies of the Obama administration. In September of 2018, the Trump administration’s U.S. Department of Agriculture announced it had canceled the Obama administration’s application for the Superior National Forest mineral withdrawal. In May of 2019, the Trump administration’s Department of the Interior renewed two Twin Metals Minnesota LLC-held hardrock mineral leases located on the Superior National Forest in Northern Minnesota that were cancelled by the Obama administration to appease anti-mining extremists.
An awesome video produced by the people of Minnesota on these issues can be viewed HERE.
Previous Caucus releases on this issue can be found HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE.