A request for an environmental impact statement examining the impact of proposed mining across the Superior National Forest is being met with strong opposition from elected officials.
The Mesabi Daily News reports that environmental groups have asked for a programmatic environmental impact statement (PEIS) that would study the potential effects of mining in northern Minnesota. Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness communications director Aaron Klemz told MinnPost that a PEIS could look at the Twin Metals mine project near the South Kawishiwi River, where the company “is relying on leases that were procured in 1966, before we had laws that require environmental review.”
Northern Minnesota Congressman Rick Nolan, Iron Range legislators, and local city councils have all spoken out against the idea. MinnPost reports that eight members of the Minnesota legislature from the Iron Range area recently sent a letter to Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, voicing the legislators’ opposition to the proposal.
The city councils of Aurora and Ely have also passed resolutions opposing a potential PEIS. Ely City Councilor Paul Kess told Fox 21 News, “I wouldn’t say it’s pro-mining. It’s anti-delay looking at those proposed mines, so we’re trying to keep these projects moving.”
Rep. Tom Anzelc, who led the group of legislators opposing the request, told MinnPost that while he thinks concerns about copper-nickel mining are “appropriate,” he opposes it on the grounds that a PEIS could also affect taconite mining.
The Superior National Forest could decide as early as this week whether to recommend the proposal to the Forest Service office in Washington, D.C.