Biden moves against Minnesota mine targeted by environmentalists

Biden moves against Minnesota mine targeted by environmentalists
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The Biden administration is planning a move that could stymie the Twins Metals mining project in Minnesota long targeted by environmentalists.

The administration is set to announce on Wednesday an environmental “review” period for the nearby Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, pausing all new mineral leases.

The Interior and Agriculture departments will consider a 20-year mineral leasing withdrawal of key portions of national forest lands, prohibiting the issuance of prospective permits and leases in the meantime, according to an advanced copy of the USDA press release shared to Congress and obtained by the Washington Examiner.

There are two leases within the proposed withdrawal area associated with the Twin Metals project, which would mine copper, nickel, and platinum group metals.

In this case, President Joe Biden is siding with environmentalists in a conflict that has roiled Democrats, who have historically opposed domestic mining projects but also want to boost production of critical minerals that are in high demand as inputs in clean energy technologies, such as electric vehicle batteries and solar panels.

Meeting Biden's ambitious climate plans will undoubtedly prompt significant growth in the demand for critical minerals. However, environmentalists and tribal groups have often balked at expanding mining on U.S. soil, arguing the projects will destroy lands and habitats and jeopardize the health of low-income and minority populations living closest to the mining sites.

Twin Metals Minnesota, the developer of the project, said it is "deeply disappointed" with the Biden administration's action.

"We are working to determine the best path forward to continue advancing our proposed world-class underground copper, nickel, cobalt and platinum group metals mine," it said in a statement.

Environmentalists have long fought the Twin Metals project, which is mired in litigation, arguing it would harm the pristine Boundary Waters Canoe Area, a 1.1 million-acre wilderness and one of the country’s oldest protected areas.

The Minnesota mining project would be adjacent to the lakes and rivers that flow directly into the protected waters, environmentalists say. The Obama administration moved to halt the project just before leaving office, declining to renew leases to withdraw minerals from the Minnesota region. The Trump administration reversed course.

Twin Metals submitted its mining plan to state and federal regulators in late 2019. In June of last year under the Trump administration, the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management said it would move forward with an environmental review.

It could be five to seven years before the Twin Metals project is in a position to receive approval.

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Republicans say the Obama administration politicized the process by blocking the Twin Metals project before it completed the permitting process, arguing the Biden administration is poised to do the same.

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Tags: News, Energy and Environment, Interior

Original Author: Josh Siegel

Original Location: Biden moves against Minnesota mine targeted by environmentalists

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