The Boundary Waters Reversal


I began writing on this topic as the Trump administration was 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. At the time, former Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton, Representative Betty McCollum, ethics watchdog Richard Painter, and other prominent public figures all cried foul, demanding to know why Trump’s Department of the Interior appeared 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’ve been investigating that question for the past few years. Documents I’ve obtained through FOIA 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
David Bernhardt’s Briefings on the Boundary Waters Reversal
What Is Sonny Perdue Hiding?
A Note on the Jorjani Confirmation Hearing
Bernhardt, Biodiversity, and the Boundary Waters
The Boundary Waters Reversal Makes the Front Page of the New York Times
New Boundary Waters FOIA Complaint Filed against US Department of Interior
Boundary Waters FOIA on Fox 9 “Investigators”
Interior Still Hiding the Role of Political Appointees — Update on the Boundary Waters FOIA Case
On the Boundary Waters, Top Interior Lawyer Gets the Historical Record Wrong
New Boundary Waters Document Releases Coming
What’s Being Hidden?
An April Set of Boundary Waters Documents, or, Mr. Altikes Comes to Washington
A Debate Over Environmental Review? New Boundary Waters Documents
A Small Set of Jorjani Boundary Waters Documents
Heavy Handed Assertions of Privilege
A New Op Ed and An Upcoming Webinar
More Evidence Foreign Mining Company’s Interests Were Top Priority At Trump’s Interior
Did Interior Abandon NEPA for Antofagasta?
Selective Evidence and the Office of the Solicitor
An Appeal to the State Department
New Citigroup CEO Has Strong Ties to Chile’s Luksic Group
Documents Delayed and Permits Accelerated: A Critical Minerals Play?
Some New Boundary Waters Documents, Many Others Still Under White House Review
Another Political Appointee’s Calendar Among New Boundary Waters Documents
Two Sets of Boundary Waters Documents: The Fallout From the Reversal
A Pressure Campaign: New FOIA Releases and a New Filing in Wilderness Society v. Bernhardt
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack Should Promptly Review the Trump Administration’s Decisions around Mining in Superior National Forest
Time for a Review
A Return to Science and A Push for Responsible Mining — Whatever That Means
A BLM Map of Critical Minerals Near the Boundary Waters
Federal Agencies Need to Deliver Themselves from the Legal and Ethical Morass Trump and his Cronies Left Them In
Are We Ever Going to Find Out How the Boundary Waters Reversal Really Went Down?
The Latest Records in my Boundary Waters FOIA Case
The Boundary Waters, Offshore: Luksic in the Pandora Papers
Public Comment on the Rainy River Watershed Withdrawal
A Final Batch of Boundary Waters FOIA Records
What’s Behind Some of the Redactions in my Boundary Waters FOIA Case?
Sizing Up a Successful FOIA Litigation
The Confusion at Yesterday’s House Committee on Natural Resources Hearing

You can read all my posts about Lake Superior mining here. And if you’d like to share information about the Boundary Waters reversal or speak with me about this issue, please email me using my Twitter name at gmail dot com.