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Twin Metals Opponents Compare State Dept. Document to Grade School Book Report

Twin Metals is proposing a copper-nickel mine near Ely. Twin Metals is proposing a copper-nickel mine near Ely. |  Photo: WDIO-TV file

WDIO-TV
Updated: February 20, 2020 05:38 PM

Opponents of the proposed Twin Metals copper-nickel mine are criticizing the Trump administration's short report to Canada about the project, saying it is not thorough enough.

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The State Department report has not been publicly released but was made available to a congressional committee this week.  Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minnesota), whose staff reviewed the report, calls it inadequate.

"The State Department's eight-paragraph response would be excellent for a grade school-level book report, but as a report to Congress it is an embarrassingly inadequate document. It embodies the Trump administration's insulting disregard for science, and fails to acknowledge the need to protect Canada's waters from toxic cross-boundary mining pollution," McCollum said.

A provision in last year's budget bill required the State Department to prepare the report on the federal government's plans for monitoring and mitigating the risk of drainage from mines in the Superior National Forest, as well as information on how the U.S. will inform Canada about the potential of pollution.  McCollum says the 1909 Boundary Waters Treaty requires Canada to be kept informed.

Twin Metals says it expects a thorough environmental review by state, federal, and tribal regulators and says the International Rainy-Lake of the Woods Watershed Board of the International Joint Commission is already in place to address mining-related environmental issues on both sides of the border.

"These avenues serve as the most appropriate places to discuss the potential impacts and mitigation measures related to any new mining projects within the Rainy River Watershed," the company said.

The watershed contains both the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and Ontario's Quetico Provincial Park.

Rep. Pete Stauber (R-Minnesota) defended Twin Metals Thursday, saying America has the strongest environmental standards in the world and that he will support the stringent review process.

"Should all of our standards be met or exceeded, we will one day mine precious metals in the Rainy River Watershed just as the Canadians have done successfully for years in the very same watershed," Stauber said.

However, Tom Landwehr, executive director of the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters, called the State Department report "just another example of the Trump Administration's reckless rush to ruin the Boundary Waters to benefit an international mining conglomerate with a terrible environmental and labor record."

McCollum says she hopes Canadian leaders will call on President Donald Trump's administration to release the report publicly.

Last year, Global Affairs Canada sent the Bureau of Land Management a letter mentioning the 1909 treaty and saying Canada is concerned about potential contamination of boundary waters.  The letter asked the BLM to explain how regulators will review possible cross-border impacts and how Canada would be involved in the process.

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