WASHINGTON, D.C. – H.R. 4402, the so-called “National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act of 2012,” a bill that streamlines the permitting process for mining on federal lands, passed the House by a vote of 256 to 160. The bill is particularly concerning for Minnesotans because of pending proposals to allow sulfide mining near the Boundary Waters and Lake Superior, in Superior National Forest. During debate this morning, Congressman Cravaak (R- MN) offered an amendment that was adopted to ensure that projects that have already been proposed, such as the sulfide mining project in northern Minnesota, will fall under this new measure. Environment Minnesota’s Preservation Advocate Samantha Chadwick issued this statement in response:
“Minnesotans don’t want watered-down protections for our treasured landscapes and pristine waterways. H.R. 4402 elevates mining above all other uses of our precious public lands—including hunting, fishing, grazing, and recreation. It also would require agencies to expedite the environmental review process and prevent many concerned groups from participating in mining decisions.
“This bill is a gift to the mining industry. It gives big companies even more power to harm public lands, and could make it easier for out of state companies, like PolyMet, to conduct polluting sulfide mining in the Superior National forest near the Boundary Waters.
“PolyMet’s original proposal was rejected because the polluting impacts of the proposed mine were deemed unacceptable. Why should the people of Minnesota allow so-called "streamlined" permitting for this harmful project, and hide the project from public and scientific scrutiny? We are disappointed in Minnesota’s Representatives who supported this dangerous bill and urge the America public to hold these 256 members of Congress accountable for caving in to the mining industry.”