Thursday, April 21, 2016

Interior Secretary touts BWCAW as “special place”

The political tea leaves are looking increasingly ominous for the future of the Twin Metals copper-nickel project, near Ely. In a major speech before the National Geographic Society in Washington D.C., on Tuesday, U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell identified the 1.1 million-acre Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness as one of three “special places” where the Obama administration is reexamining decisions by previous administrations to see whether they “properly considered where it makes sense to develop and where it doesn’t.” Secretary Jewell’s comments reflect her department’s current re-examination of two longstanding federal mineral leases near the Boundary Waters. For Twin Metals, which currently holds the expired leases, renewal is critical to the company’s plans to develop a copper-nickel mine several miles southeast of Ely. While the Secretary never mentioned the leases directly during her speech, Eighth District Congressman Rick Nolan said there was no doubt about the meaning of her reference and he said it suggests the Obama administration may be leaning towards a presidential declaration to permanently protect the Rainy River watershed from mining. “I got physically sick I was so disturbed by it,” said Nolan, who added that he sees a well-orchestrated campaign behind the recent push for non-renewal of the mineral leases. “First you had the governor’s decision, then the BLM [Bureau of Land Management] decision, then Walter Mondale’s letter,” he said...more

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