Why ‘Yuge’ Meeting on Obama MN Mining Ban May Not Matter

Anti-MiningThere’s a “yuge” public meeting in Duluth tomorrow on the planned Twin Metals copper mine being held up by a last-minute Obama administration preemptive regulatory strike. Hundreds of supporters and protesters will likely show up in a Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management spectacle that could get rowdy over the previous president’s moratorium on mining and exploration on 235,000 acres of federal land.

Yet some say it’s not that big of a deal–the public meeting that is. There’s widespread expectation on both sides of the issue that it’s only a matter of time before the new administration reverses the ban, clearing the way for economic expansion in an area that greatly needs it.

…It’s widely believed the new Trump administration will overturn the moratorium, approve leases and allow Twin Metals to get back to exploration and planning for the massive underground copper-nickel mine. Trump’s cabinet appointments and his statements have leaned heavily toward approving more extractive resource projects, not less.

So far the Obama-era policy has not been overturned, however, so the agencies continue to work toward the moratorium that also comes with a two-year study on mining in the BWCAW vicinity. That study could lead to a 20-year ban on mining in the areas around the BWCAW.

“Our direction from our national office is to move ahead with scoping” the parameters of the proposed environmental review, said Kris Reichenbach, spokeswoman for the Superior National Forest.

Despite the anticipated reversal, pro-mining civic leaders say northern Minnesotans can’t afford to take anything for granted.

Nancy Norr, chair of the Jobs For Minnesotans coalition of labor, industry and municipal officials, said she’s “not in the camp that this whole (moratorium) is just going to go away.”

“Now that this action has been initiated we need to stay involved in this process and explain” why the agencies made the wrong decision, Norr said, adding that the primary message is that the government should stick to its normal procedure for evaluating mining projects and not impose a new layer of roadblocks.

“Those mineral deposits represent an enormous economic opportunity for our state,” said Norr, who is also director of regional development for Minnesota Power. “Jobs and a clean environment can coexist in this state.”

The public meeting will be held at DECC Symphony Hall in Duluth on Thursday from 5-7:30 p.m.