The Trump administration is moving rapidly to clear the way for 100 years of sulfide ore mining and industrial development on the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness — Minnesota’s crown jewel and a national treasure. Governor Mark Dayton, Representative Betty McCollum, ethics watchdog Richard Painter, and other prominent public figures have all cried foul, demanding to know why the Department of the Interior appears to be putting the financial interests of a foreign conglomerate — and of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner’s Washington, DC landlord — before the need to protect this unique American wilderness.
I’m currently investigating that question. Documents I’ve obtained through FOIA (around 5,000 pages to date) show Interior officials working closely with mining lobbyists to reverse Obama administration protections. Meetings with environmental groups appear to have been perfunctory; serious concerns about the risks of sulfide mining near the Boundary Waters were blithely set aside. Previously undisclosed meetings with executives from Antofagasta PLC, the Chilean conglomerate, at the Department of Interior, the Trump White House, and the U.S. Embassy in Santiago, Chile, raise troubling questions about patterns of access and influence that put private over public interests, and extraction over preservation of public wealth.
The stakes could not be higher. Permitting just one mine at the threshold of the Boundary Waters could trigger a rush on the Duluth Complex, and further expand the industrial footprint of sulfide-mining around the Lake Superior region—home to over ten percent of the world’s fresh water. Our public lands and waters, as well as our shared public life, hang in the balance.
Here are my posts to date on the Trump administration’s reversal of Obama-era protections for the Boundary Waters.
Is Corruption at Interior Putting the Boundary Waters at Risk?
Another Note on the Boundary Waters Reversal
From Caval to Kalorama
Twin Metals at Interior — A Timeline
What Scott Pruitt’s Troubles Tell us About Corruption in Kalorama
McCollum Questions Zinke on the Boundary Waters Reversal
Demagoguery in Duluth
Another Look at the Twin Metals Timeline
A Second Boundary Waters Reversal, and Its Connection to the First
Sonny Perdue “Broke His Word” on the Boundary Waters
A Meeting in Santiago about Mining in Minnesota
A New Set of Boundary Waters Documents
The Architect of the Boundary Waters Reversal
A Standing Offer to Steve Kornacki
What’s Up With the Kalorama Business License?
A New Boundary Waters FOIA Request
“America is Not a Company”: Lowenthal Questions Nedd on the Boundary Waters
A Motion in D.D.C. and Some Updates to the Twin Metals Timeline
You can find all my posts on Lake Superior mining here.