(Courtesy of the Congressional Western Caucus)
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Members of the Congressional Western Caucus including Chairman Paul Gosar (AZ-04), Chief Infrastructure and Forestry Officer Bruce Westerman (AR-04) and Members Tom Emmer (MN-06) and Kevin Cramer (ND-At Large) released statements after President Trump announced at a rally last night in Duluth, Minnesota that he would be cancelling the Obama Administration's political mineral withdrawal in the Superior National Forest:
Congressman Emmer stated, “The President's announcement last night is great news for Minnesota. My MINER Act demonstrated strong bipartisan support for unleashing our state's mining potential and now, by reversing the politically motivated and short-sighted actions from the Obama administration on their way out the door, President Trump is stepping in to restore local control of Minnesota’s mineral rights. I am hopeful that the steps needed to ensure a full reversal of the former administration's harmful actions are taken soon, specifically ending the withdrawal proposal that has now dragged on for 18 months, to dramatically revitalize local communities and their economies.”
Congressman Gosar said, "When the Minnesota mineral withdrawal was first announced in the twilight hours of the last Administration, we in the Western Caucus knew it would be an uphill battle to bring enough attention to it to get something done. So, we banded together, amplified the issue and worked to avert the terrible precedent and economic turmoil that would ensue if the withdrawal was left in place. Ultimately, piece by piece, these efforts have prevailed, with word of the problem making its way to President Trump just yesterday. When the President heard the numbers - 17,000 jobs, $3 billion for education, $1.5 billion in annual wages, $2.5 billion annually for the economy - he recognized that the obviously right thing to do was to reverse the action. And, it just so happens that policy created with a pen can be wiped away by one, too - thanks, Obama. We appreciate President Trump for immediately seeing that the right thing for Minnesota workers and families is to strike this withdrawal from the books, and I look forward to seeing the region's economy and education flourish as a consequence."
Congressman Westerman stated, "Unnecessary rules handed down by unelected Washington, D.C., bureaucrats that violate agreements going back to the 1950s threatened the future of mining and economic development in Minnesota. I visited the operation and met with the Minnesotans affected by this political move, where I got to feel the impact that decision had on both our country and our economy. I thank President Trump for reversing heavy-handed rules handed down by the Obama Administration, allowing Americans to continue investing in jobs, economic development, and education.”
Congressman Cramer concluded, “I commend President Trump for rolling back this misguided Obama-era land grab which took away our Minnesota neighbor’s ability to develop minerals in the state. I’ve been working with my colleagues in Congress, including Members from both parties in the Minnesota delegation, since President Obama proposed putting these hundreds of thousands of acres off limits. President Trump’s action will allow for jobs, increased wages, and reignite economic development in the Iron Range.”
Last night at a campaign rally in Minnesota, President Donald Trump announced that his Administration will be rescinding a mineral withdrawal initiated by the Obama Administration affecting the Superior National Forest in northern Minnesota. Click here or on the tweet by NBC below to watch:
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 northeast Minnesota.
It is being reported that, upon being briefed on the situation, the President immediately saw the importance to Minnesota workers and families of rescinding the massive withdrawal.
The Western Caucus - led by members Tom Emmer and Bruce Westerman as well as Chairman Gosar - has advocated for this outcome since the withdrawal was first put in place.
On June 30th, 2017, 26 bipartisan Members of Congress sent a letter asking for the Administration to cancel this political land grab. The robust Member turnout for this regional issue demonstrated the extent to which Members who had no immediate interest in the policy saw clearly the unfairness, unjustified damage to the regional economy and harm to education funding streams the withdrawal would impose.
Legislative solutions to the withdrawal offered by Congressman Emmer were proposed and accepted by the full House of Representatives with the backing and support of the Western Caucus. The House passed H.R. 3905 to cancel the Obama mineral withdrawal and reinstate the two leases that were arbitrarily denied (the leases have since been reinstated). A press release can be found here. The House also passed an amendment to cancel the political land grab to the Interior Appropriations bill. A story about the amendment passing can be found here.
The total withdrawal application boundary spans approximately 425,000 acres, including 95,000 acres of state school trust fund lands. 17,000 jobs, $3 billion for education, $1.5 billion in annual wages, $2.5 billion annually for the economy were at risk if the mineral withdrawal was allowed to stand.
The withdrawal also contradicted established legislative intent of Congress. In 1978, Congress passed the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness Act (BWCAW), a historic compromise between interested parties that prohibited mining within the Boundary Waters Area but explicitly permitted mining to occur in the Superior National Forest. Unfortunately, debate surrounding mining in the Superior National Forest has often conflated the buffer of the Boundary Waters - in which mining will not be taking place under any proposed plan - with authorized mining in designated areas of the Forest. The President's announcement indicates he and his Administration were not mislead by those distortions.
The area comprises the largest copper-nickel deposit in the world. There are billions of pounds of copper, nickel, and cobalt and millions of ounces of platinum, palladium, gold and silver. The market value of these resources is estimated to be $500 billion.