Friday - December 1, 2017 7:11 am

Minnesota DFL rep. says expanded mining legislation win for environment

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(AP file photo) (AP file photo)

MINNEAPOLIS — Legislation from two Minnesota congressmen which allows for expanded mining in northeastern Minnesota has caused broader environmental debate in the U.S. House and divided the state’s congressional delegation.

The House Tuesday passed DFL Rep. Rick Nolan’s bill that finalizes a land exchange between the U.S. Forest Service and PolyMet Mining. The exchange advances PolyMet’s proposed copper-nickel mining project in northeastern Minnesota. Environmentalists say copper-nickel mining is more harmful to the area’s waterways than the existing taconite mines.

“This bill is a win for taxpayers, for the environment, and for good-paying jobs,” Nolan told The Star Tribune. Other prominent DFLers, including Gov. Mark Dayton, have supported Nolan’s proposal, although it does not currently have a companion bill in the U.S. Senate.

The Tribune continued: Nolan was adamant that his legislation would not enable mining in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, pointing out that any new mining project would still have to pass muster with state and federal regulators before proceeding. But environmentalists have warned that copper-nickel mining is more harmful to surrounding waters than the region’s existing taconite mines.

Protecting the region’s environment also spurred lively debate Wednesday when Republican Rep. Tom Emmer defended his legislation that requires congressional approval of any move by federal officials to withdraw government-owned land from mining. The House approved Emmer’s bill on Thursday.

Last modified on Friday - December 1, 2017 7:40 am
Associated Press

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