HR 5544, the Minnesota Education Investment and Employment Act, was introduced by 8th District Representative Chip Cravaack to authorize the exchange of an undetermined number of acres within what is now Superior National Forest for 86,000 acres of State lands within the borders of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW). This bill does not account for the mineral rights underlying the surface area of the trust lands and thus leaves the door open for further reduction of Federal forest acreage.
The passage of HR 5544 by the U.S. House of Representatives on September 12 sets the stage for the dismantling of Superior National Forest, the retraction of Federal policy to preserve lands of scenic and recreational value for future generations, the negation of Federal policy requiring environmental review and public input when eliminating Federal lands, and the ignoring of Tribal treaty rights. What HR 5544 does do is facilitate turning the Arrowhead region of northeast Minnesota into a copper-nickel sulfide mining district for the benefit of multinational corporations seeking to extract Minnesota’s minerals and sell them on the global market.
Rep. Cravaack has misinformed both his colleagues and his constituents. He has claimed that HR 5544 is for the benefit of Minnesota’s school children when in fact there has been no accounting of the actual benefit for the school trust fund; if the mineral rights are owned by private interests, no money from mining would go into the school trust. He claims the minerals are necessary for our strategic interests when in fact the metals would be processed and sold on the global marketplace to competitors such as China. He claims that no Federal protections will be lost, when lands traded will lose Weeks Act prohibitions against open pit mining, Endangered Species protections, and National Environmental Policy Act requirements for a public environmental review process. In addition, Rep. Cravaack’s legislative fast tracking ignores Native American Tribal consultation.
Rep. Cravaack claims that environmental groups have impeded the removal of state trust lands from within the BWCWA when In actuality it was Iron Range legislators who impeded a land sale in the 1990’s, losing interest money that would have been generated during the past dozen years.
Rep. Cravaack’s bill is a giveaway to multinational mining companies who would find it difficult to get permitted without political intervention on their behalf. Rep. Cravaack ignores the scientific facts which explain why sulfide mining is so insidious, and he ignores the track record left behind by sulfide mining in other states. Rep. Cravaack was born in West Virginia, grew up in Ohio, and his family now resides in New Hampshire. Rep. Cravaack has no roots or ties to the Arrowhead region of northeast Minnesota, and his introduction of this reckless bill demonstrates his lack of knowledge regarding the history of the BWCAW and the economic value of the scenic character of northeastern Minnesota and the North Shore of Lake Superior.
Call Senators Franken and Klobuchar NOW and ask them to refrain from introducing any bill that involves exchanging Federal land for State land. Ask for a complete land sale of the remaining State lands within the BWCAW, or the addition of a fee to BWCAW permits that would go directly in the Permanent School Fund. Ask these two legislators to do what is right for the legacy of the Arrowhead region and the future of our children.
Call Senator Al Franken’s office at 202-224-5641 (Washington) or 651-221-1016 (St. Paul) and Senator Amy Klobuchar at 202-224-3244 (Washington) or 612-727-5220 (Minneapolis). See www.sosbluewaters.org for more information.
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