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Overwhelming Majority of Minnesotans Oppose Mining Near the Boundary Waters

February 25, 2020

Media Contact

Jeremy Drucker
Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters
(612) 670-9650

Ely, MN

Overwhelming Majority of Minnesotans Oppose Mining Near the Boundary Waters

By nearly 3 to 1 Minnesotans do not want mining near the Wilderness

ELY, MN–Today the Star Tribune/MPR released a poll showing that by 60% to 22% Minnesotans do not want mining near the Boundary Waters. This tracks with other polling that has consistently shown over the years that Minnesotans oppose threats to America’s most visited Wilderness. Significantly, opposition did not change greatly across regions of the state. 

“The Boundary Waters is our state’s crown jewel, a special place to Minnesotans of all ages and backgrounds, and a natural wonder that we want protected now and for our kids, grandkids, and those coming after,” said Becky Rom, National Chair of the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters.

“Those of us who live in the Boundary Waters region acutely recognize that a sulfide-ore copper mining district near the Boundary Waters would be devastating to the Wilderness and the wild characteristics that make it so special – clean water and air, abundant wildlife, healthy fishery, quietude, and dark skies. Our communities have built our way of life around the Wilderness. This poll makes clear that the majority of Minnesotans stand with us in protecting our nation’s greatest canoe country wilderness.” 

Consistent with independent academic research that shows that protecting the Wilderness from sulfide-ore copper mining is far better long-term for the local economy, voters said – by a 66% to 19% margin – that the environment was more important than jobs when it came to mining near the Boundary Waters. Notably, in Northern Minnesota where the mine would be located respondents agreed, saying environmental protection was more important than jobs by a 60% to 23% margin. 

In 2016 the US Forest Service (USFS) concluded that proposed copper mining near the Wilderness from Antofagasta’s Twin Metals project posed an “unacceptable risk of irreparable harm” to the Boundary Waters and the federal leases for the project were terminated. 

After Antofagasta’s owner bought a Washington DC mansion and rented it to Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, the Trump Administration revived the leases and short-circuited the federal environmental review of a 20-year mining ban in the watershed of the Boundary Waters. Since then, Antofagasta’s changes to the project have greatly increased the risk this proposed mine poses to the Boundary Waters. 

The Trump Administration has continued to fast track the project, killing a bipartisan budget provision compelling it to complete the cancelled mining ban study. It most recently blew off a congressionally ordered report to the Canadian government on potential impacts to Canadian waters by issuing a mere 8 paragraph document that was described as “a grade school-level book report.”

There is currently a bill in Congress to protect the Boundary Waters by banning sulfide-ore copper mining in the headwaters.