WASHINGTON -- Two of Minnesota's House Democrats are having a spat over the the Superior National Forest near the Bounday Waters Canoe Area.
Rep. Rick Nolan, who represents the swath of land in northeastern Minnesota, recently asked the Trump administration to open up the possibility of mining in the Superior Forest. This would reverse an Obama decision to reject a Chilean-owned company's effort to lease out the land for sulfide-ore copper mining.
Rep. Betty McCollum, who represents St. Paul and sits on the House appropriations committee in charge of funding the Interior Department, called Nolan's move an "assualt" on a natural treasure.
"I am deeply disappointed that my colleague is now asking the Trump administration to reverse the Obama administration's decision," she said. "Particularly disturbing is that Rep. Nolan thinks the Trump administration will make its decision using science and facts which puts an outrageous amount of faith in an administration that denies climate science."
Nolan pointed out that he was the original cosponsor of the legislation that established the Boundary Waters Canoe Area as a wilderness area, which prohibits any commercial development and mining in the designated space. But he supports responsible mining and rigorous environmental reviews that accompany that on other lands.
"To be clear, there is no specific mining project at this point," he said. "The U.S. Forest Service's decision (under Obama) denies the opportunity for a project before there is even anything to review. Denying any business activity before you know what it is lacks common sense and subverts the good, thorough and elaborate environmental review process."
This isn't the first time McCollum has been pitted against other Democrats, including both senators, on mining.