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Over 248,000 comments submitted supporting ban on risky mining near Minnesota’s Boundary Waters

January 20, 2022

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Jeremy Drucker, Save the Boundary Waters, jeremy@savetheboundarywaters.org, (612) 670-9650

Ely, MN

The number of comments submitted by Save the Boundary Waters and its partners eclipses the 181,000 comment mark from 2017

(Ely, MN)–Today the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters announced that over 248,000 comments were submitted supporting a ban on risky mining near Minnesota’s Boundary Waters. The comment period officially closed yesterday. The comments were gathered by the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters and its partners, including The Wilderness Society, The Sierra Club, Wilderness Watch, The Center for Biological Diversity, and others. This number eclipses the 181,000 comments submitted over two federal comment periods in 2017 and 2018 on a similar proposed mining ban. The 2017-2018 process, known as a mineral withdrawal, was abruptly canceled by the Trump administration at the 11th hour.

“Americans of every stripe love the Boundary Waters and want to see it permanently protected,” said Becky Rom, National Chair of the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters. “This outpouring of support is a clear indication of where the American people stand when it comes to protecting America’s most visited Wilderness.”

On October 20, 2021 the Biden administration announced it was re-starting a mineral withdrawal for the Rainy River Headwaters, which is the watershed of the Boundary Waters Wilderness. The public comment period for the mineral withdrawal ran from October 21, 2021 through January 19, 2022. The mineral withdrawal process begins with a study of the ecological, economic, cultural, and socio-economic impacts of copper mining on the Boundary Waters and surrounding communities, and could lead to a ban on risky mining of up to 20 years.

As part of the public comment period the US Forest Service held three public listening sessions where pro-Boundary Waters speakers outnumbered pro-sulfide-ore copper mining speakers by more than 2 to 1.

The Boundary Waters is the most heavily visited wilderness area in the United States, attracting more than 160,000 visitors from all over the world and helps drive more than $900 million in annual economic activity and helps support over 17,000 jobs. A peer-reviewed independent study from Harvard University showed that protecting the Boundary Waters from a proposed Twin Metals sulfide-ore copper mine would result in dramatically more jobs and more income over a 20-year period. Nearly seventy percent of Minnesotans support a ban on sulfide-ore copper mining near the Wilderness to permanently protect the Boundary Waters.

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