Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Tom Emmer (MN-06) gave a speech on the House floor to defend Minnesota mining during debate on H.R. 7608 - State, Foreign Operations, Agriculture, Rural Development, Interior, Environment, Military Construction, and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act, 2021. The appropriations package included several provisions harmful to exploration and mining.
Watch Congressman Emmer’s remarks here.
Congressman Emmer has long fought for the restoration of Minnesota’s mineral rights. In October 2017, Congressman Emmer introduced Minnesota’s Economic Rights (MINER) in the Superior National Forest Act to restore Minnesota’s right to explore and, if environmentally appropriate, mine valuable precious metals. Congressman Emmer’s MINER Act passed the House in November 2017 followed closely by action from the Department of Interior to renew the mineral leases in the area.
The MINER Act demonstrated strong bipartisan support for unleashing Minnesota’s mining potential. During the outgoing days of the Obama administration, a politically motivated order threatened more than 425,000 acres of land with a prohibition on development, potentially instating a 20-year ban on industry activity.
In June 2018, President Trump announced his commitment to ending the withdrawal and fully restoring Minnesota’s right to explore during his visit to Duluth. Following the visit, the Trump Administration reversed this mineral withdrawal.
The fight to protect Minnesota mining continued today. In an appropriations package to fund several government agencies, provisions were included that would restrict the Department of the Interior from using funds to review or approve a mine plan proposed within the Rainy River Watershed of the Superior National Forest. It would halt permitting of any new or existing mines in both the Superior National Forest and the Rainy River Watershed, including three existing iron ore mines currently located in the Superior National Forest - threatening nearly 2,200 jobs. These mines would be prohibited from expanding, improving or extending their mining.
"The conversation we are having today does not need to be as divisive as my Democratic colleagues from Minnesota are pushing for. Today, I stand with the Representative of this area in Minnesota, Pete Stauber, who is advocating for those Minnesotans who are directly impacted by this shortsighted effort. We both firmly believe that American mining is the safest and environmentally responsible way to help America.
We’ve been told time and time again, “not this mine, not this location.” Unfortunately, my Democrat colleagues want to ban all mining. They want to eliminate good paying jobs in construction, labor, and allow countries like China and Russia to utilize child labor and environmentally disastrous practices to mine for the minerals our everyday items need, like cell phones and cars.
This bill doesn’t simply attack the future of mining; it impacts existing mines in operation today. This bill would decimate those jobs.
I urge my colleagues to vote against this rule and this bill, in order to preserve mining in my great state. It will also help secure America’s mineral independence and give miners the opportunity to do what they do best, mine responsibly – in our country – for the benefit of all Americans. I yield back."