Representative Angie Craig Presses Biden Administration to Release Data from Cancelled Boundary Waters Environmental Assessment

October 7, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Representative Angie Craig requested that the Biden Administration publish critical data developed as part of the environmental assessment for the Rainy River watershed mineral withdrawal it was cancelled by the prior administration. In a letter addressed to Secretary of Interior Deb Haaland and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Craig urged the Administration to publish this information in a timely manner – as the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources prepares to seek public comments related to its court-ordered review of mining rules. She previously called for the Trump administration to finish the study.

I write to ask that your agencies make publicly available any preliminary data that was developed by the Forest Service as part of the environmental assessment that was previously cancelled by the former administration for the Rainy River watershed mineral withdrawal in 2018,” said Representative Craig.

Craig continued, Sharing the mineral resources report, the biological and economic impact assessment and the assessment of potential impacts to water resources, wilderness areas and cultural resources data would help all commentors better inform themselves about this potential significant change in state rules.”

In 2018, the Trump Administration canceled the completion of a comprehensive and public Environmental Assessment on the impact of sulfide-ore copper nickel mining in the Superior National Forest near the Boundary Waters and within the Rainy River watershed – which was initiated by the Obama-Biden Administration in 2016. In her letter, Representative Craig is requesting that the Biden Administration make public the data compiled as a part of that study, in an effort to ensure that all stakeholders and government officials can be better informed about potential changes in state rules.

You can find the full text of the letter PDF iconhere and below.

 

Secretary Thomas Vilsack
U.S. Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Ave., SW
Washington, DC 20250

Secretary Deb Haaland
U.S. Department of the Interior
1849 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20240

Dear Secretary Vilsack and Secretary Haaland,

I write to ask that your agencies make publicly available any preliminary data that was developed by the Forest Service as part of the environmental assessment that was previously cancelled by the former administration for the Rainy River watershed mineral withdrawal in 2018. While I believe this assessment should be completed and information should have already been released by the prior administration, there are new developments at the state level related to the withdrawal and wilderness protection that would benefit from this additional information.

Specifically, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is seeking public comment to inform a decision on whether the state’s existing nonferrous mine siting rule is adequate to protect the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) from pollution, impairment or destruction from potential mining within the Rainy River Headwaters watershed. The DNR will seek substantive public comments from November 9, 2021 through December 8, 2021 to assist the department in its decision making.

Sharing the mineral resources report, the biological and economic impact assessment and the assessment of potential impacts to water resources, wilderness areas and cultural resources data would help all commentors better inform themselves about this potential significant change in state rules. With the closely interrelated state and federal mineral leases located near the Boundary Waters, any state action(s) resulting from this comment period are likely to factor into any federal decisions to be made about mineral development in the area. Therefore, I urge your agencies to share this information in a timely manner.

Thank you for your consideration of this request.

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