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Phillips Applauds Department of Interior's Cancellation of Twin Metals Mining Leases

MINNETONKA, MN - Today, Rep. Dean Phillips (MN-03) applauded the Department of Interior’s announcement canceling two hard rock mineral leases adjacent to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCA). The Interior Department’s Office of the Solicitor found the Twin Metals leases were improperly renewed by the Department in 2019.

“Minerals, jobs, and Minnesota's clean water and natural environment are all critical to our future,” said Rep. Phillips. “I applaud the Department of Interior’s thoughtful review and agree; The risk of irrevocable damage to the BWCA watershed, and the recreation-based economy that depends on it, is simply too great.  I am not opposed to mining, but will always oppose projects that present undue risk to future generations of Minnesotans. My gratitude to Rep. Betty McCollum for her leadership on protecting Minnesota’s – and America’s – most popular Wilderness Area.”

Rep. Phillips is an original co-sponsor of Rep. Betty McCollum's Boundary Waters Wilderness Protection and Pollution Prevention Act, which would permanently prohibit sulfide-ore copper mining within 234,000 acres of federal wilderness in the Rainy River Drainage Basin, where the surface waters and groundwaters flow directly into the BWCA.

Far more toxic than Minnesota’s traditional form of iron-ore and taconite mining, pollution from sulfide-ore copper mining can last for thousands of years and is almost impossible to contain. This mining puts the wilderness area’s watershed, fish and wildlife, Tribal treaty rights, and  nearly $100 million annual local recreation economy at risk. The Boundary Waters is the most popular wilderness destination in the country, with more than 150,000 visitors each year from around the world. In addition to its negative environmental and public health impacts, an independent study from the Harvard Department of Economics found that pollution from sulfide-ore copper mining would threaten the 17,000 jobs that the BWCA brings to Minnesota.