MINNESOTA [10/20/21]— U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.) said today that she backs the decision by the U.S. Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Interior (DOI) to complete a two-year study that will determine the safety of copper-nickel mining in the watershed that feeds the world-renowned Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW), which is she pushed for earlier this year. The safety study was abruptly halted in 2018, without explanation.
In March, Sen. Smith pushed U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, and U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland to direct key agencies under their jurisdictions to finish the study.
Sen. Smith released the following statement on today’s announcement that the study will be restarted.
“I am very pleased that the study of the safety of copper-nickel mining in the BWCAW watershed will be completed because we need it to be thorough, complete and unbiased. This wilderness is irreplaceable, and known not only to generations of Minnesotans as a special place, but also across the world as a unique resource. I am determined to protect it.
“Mining is an important tradition in Northeast Minnesota and an ongoing source of good jobs. At the same time, the BWCAW is fragile and most Minnesotans understand that we can’t afford to be wrong about its protection. This study will help us get the safety of mining in the BWCAW watershed right.”