Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Tom Emmer (MN-06) testified before the House Natural Resources Committee regarding his discussion draft on the United States Forest Service (USFS)’s pending withdrawal application in Northern Minnesota.
“Today’s hearing was to bring forth a discussion on the potential to revitalize communities in northern Minnesota by recognizing the rights of Minnesotans to exercise their mineral claims if any proposed mining projects can satisfy all of our stringent environmental requirements,” said Emmer. “We have a real opportunity to reverse the politically motivated and short-sighted actions the Obama Administration enacted on their way out the door and bring good-paying jobs and revenue to a region that greatly needs it. Like all Minnesotans, I believe in preserving and protecting our natural resources and I have no doubt that we can find a way to preserve Minnesota’s pristine landscape without permanently destroying any future job creation or economic development in Minnesota. I am pleased we have taken action today to get us one step closer to allowing the research and exploration process to proceed, while protecting the potential future economic opportunities in the great state of Minnesota.”
The discussion draft before the House Natural Resources Committee aims to restrict broad mineral withdrawals unless they are approved by an Act of Congress. It would also renew certain mineral leases with preferential rights of renewal, consistent with current law, and provide that future leases in the area remain valid for 20 years, with 10-year renewal periods. Additionally, this proposal includes language that states, “Nothing in this section may be construed as permitting the prospecting for development and utilization of mineral resources within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCA) or Mine Protection Area.”
"Jobs for Minnesotans fully supports this legislation which provides hope and opportunity to Minnesota's mining region,” said Nancy Norr, Chair of Jobs for Minnesota. “All we ask of our elected officials and the federal agencies is to allow projects to go through the established and proven regulatory process under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)."
"I thank Congressman Emmer for bringing this important legislation forward," said Jason George, Legislative and Special Projects Director of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 49. "Banning mining in a region that was set aside specifically for mining before a project has been put forward to study is not sound public policy. It is time that environmental extremists and Washington bureaucrats stop telling the good people of the Iron Range what is best for them."
"RAMS (Range Association of Municipalities & Schools) thanks Congressman Emmer for his efforts to bring forth legislation that will allow continued exploration outside the protected buffer zone of the BWCA," said Steve Giorgi, Executive Director of RAMS. "The intervention by the USFS with their proposed land withdrawal has already had an economic impact on our region as reflected this spring when no new state leases were purchased the proposed withdrawal area."
To read the text of the discussion draft, click here.
For additional information, please read previous releases on: Emmer’s meeting with Secretary Perdue, a letter sent to Secretaries Perdue and Zinke, and a recent mining tour to Northern Minnesota.