Source: United States House of Representatives – Congressman Pete Stauber (MN-08)
Congressman Pete Stauber (MN-08), Ranking Member of the Energy and Mineral Resources subcommittee, released his prepared remarks for today’s hearing on legislation that would permanently ban mining in the Superior National Forest.
Congressman Stauber’s full prepared remarks
Thank you, Chairman Lowenthal.
H.R. 2794 permanently bans mining in a massive region of northern Minnesota, entirely within my district.
It’s introduced by a Democrat colleague from St. Paul, who does not represent anywhere near the region being legislated, and the cosponsors include only Democrats.
Despite its misleading name the bill has nothing to do with the Boundary Waters.
It’s about ending an industry that has employed Minnesotans and Iron Rangers for over 130 years.
It’s about imposing a radical, keep-it-in-the-ground philosophy in lockstep with the Biden Administration.
And it’s about keeping, opportunity, wealth, and economic development out of northern Minnesota.
The target of the legislation is the Twin Metals project. For those who don’t know, this project is proposed in the Superior National Forest, a working, industrial Forest, where the Forest Plan includes mining in the region as a “desired condition.”
There is NO proposed mining in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness OR in the surrounding Mining Protection Area, which we call a buffer zone.
That’s right, despite what the Democrats today will imply, let me be very clear: there is NO proposed mining in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness or the surrounding buffer zone.
In fact, I’d like to preface this entire hearing with a warning. While I’m obviously happy that Joe Biden took down his poorly intentioned “disinformation board,” perhaps the topics we hear from Democrats today would qualify as disinformation.
Because the proponents of this bill, both on the Democrat virtual dais and from the Democrat-invited witnesses, will include half-truths, misleading statements, and opinions framed as fact throughout this hearing today.
So, I look forward to leading the charge on setting the record straight and hearing directly from Julie Padilla from Twin Metals.
I am, however, very disappointed about the Majority choosing to hold this hearing virtually.
My constituents support mining and care about this topic. And I therefore came to Washington and the hearing room in person to highlight the bill’s issues. Virtual hearings have become a tool for Democrats to limit participation.
Full Committee Ranking Member Westerman is unfortunately unable to join for this reason, and I would like to enter his statement for the record.
For background, the Superior National Forest is on the east end of the Iron Range and is entirely in my district.
Alongside our historic taconite reserves is the Duluth Complex, one of the largest untapped precious metal and critical mineral sites in the world.
Northern Minnesota is uniquely positioned to develop the resources for America’s supply chains, as the International Energy Agency has stated in its report that six times more mining is needed for our modern lives. My district alone contains 95% of America’s nickel, 88% of our cobalt, 75% of our platinum, and more than one-third of our copper.
And Twin Metals held longstanding federal leases, dating back to 1966, to mine a significant portion of those minerals in my district.
The location of those leases is important. They’re in a region of the Superior National Forest where we have logging roads. We have hydropower resources. We have reclaimed mining pits. We have active aggregate quarries.
And, other mining companies hold leases within the withdrawal areas, and they’re actively exploring and developing other nonferrous mining projects.
Despite what the bill’s sponsor, the Democrat cosponsors, and the Democrat witnesses today will lead you to believe, you don’t have to bushwhack and portage your way to the Twin Metals site.
And yes, it’s in the same watershed as the BWCA. But guess what else is: an open pit gold mine, just 40 miles north of my district in Ontario, Canada.
My constituents have lived, worked, and played here for their entire lives and the generations that preceded them did the same. In fact, if you’d like to visit, we’ll drive you right up to the project site.
Twin Metals has already signed a Project Labor Agreement with the Iron Range Building and Construction Trades.
One of the largest union construction projects in Minnesota’s history was U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, which featured more than 4 million union construction hours.
Twin Metals will rival those hours. But because it’s in a rural area, not in a Democrat-represented district, it’s disparaged, not celebrated.
Twin Metals proposes a 100% underground, state-of-the-art 21st century mining project. Julie today will detail how it would be at least net-zero emissions, if not a total carbon sink, and feature the modern dry-stack tailings method.
A leading international geochemist wrote as much in the Duluth News Tribune. But, the Democrat witnesses today completely ignore that fact, and don’t even mention “dry stack” in their testimonies at all.
But, before any of that could be considered, Biden and Democrat mining opponents chose to ignore the environmental benefits and union construction hours and pull the leases, just like Obama did with only 16 days left in his term.
During the Trump years, Democrats on this Committee continued to ask for the release of the political, partisan study started by the Obama Administration. Yet here we are years into a failing presidency, and no release.
The only way to properly evaluate all these issues is with a project-specific review. And Twin Metals had offered their mine plan. But, Democrats refused to review it.
I urge my colleagues to consider the prophetic words of my predecessor, the late Congressman Jim Oberstar, in a letter to then-President Jimmy Carter, in 1978 regarding logging and mining in the Superior National Forest:
“I urge you not to trade off the lifestyles, livelihoods, and legitimate desires of the people of northeastern Minnesota for equitable treatment in favor of the vague and ill-defined interests of other, perhaps more clamorous, constituencies far removed from the BWCA.”
This bill permanently bans mining. It arbitrarily withdraws the region, a historic mining district, from accessing the metals that electric carmakers and others so desperately need.
The bill ignores the project’s potential for environmental benefits and is being offered against the wishes of unions and families in Minnesota.
I look forward to the hearing today. I look forward to debunking misinformation and providing the truth.
Thank you, and I yield back.