On Friday, the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service filed with the Federal Register its intent to close off more than 234,000 acres in the Superior National Forest to mining activity. To do so, the request has to go through comment periods and an environmental review, with the Interior secretary giving the final decision.
The potential irony of that process should not be lost. In its actions the BLM and USFS circumvented years of federal due process for the very mining projects at risk of being blocked. That process, most notably denied to Twin Metals, will sound familiar: a proposal, comment periods and environmental reviews.
The hypocrisy should also not be lost.
This effort by the BLM and USFS seeks a two-year moratorium on new mining projects and ultimately a 20-year ban on mining in the Rainy River watershed near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.
It stems from Twin Metals’ conceptual underground copper-nickel mine near Ely, which is under intense scrutiny by the federal agencies and environmental groups for so-far unsubstantiated claims that it would irreparably harm the BWCAW.
Those claims are unsubstantiated because the federal agencies forging ahead with a review process to close the forest acreage to mining are the same ones that denied Twin Metals leases that would allow the company to move forward with an environmental review of its project.
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