|March 8, 2016||Department of Interior Solicitor Hilary Tompkins issues an ‘M Opinion’ providing the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management discretion to grant or deny Twin Metals Minnesota lease renewal application.|
|July 1, 2016||Seth P. Waxman of Wilmer Hale writes to Solicitor Tompkins on behalf of Twin Metals, arguing that her Opinion was arrived at erroneously and should be withdrawn. (For more on Waxman’s letter, see this post.)|
|September 12, 2016||Antofagasta subsidiaries Twin Metals Minnesota and Franconia Minerals file a complaint in the U.S. District Court of Minnesota, asserting the non-discretionary “right to successive renewals” of mineral leases in Superior National Forest.|
|December 14, 2016||US Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell issues a decision that the Forest Service will not consent to renewal of the Twin Metals mineral leases in Superior National Forest.|
|December 15, 2016||After the Forest Service notifies the Bureau of Land Management that it does not consent to the renewal of Twin Metals mineral leases in Superior National Forest, the Obama administration releases Memo M-37036, denying renewal of Twin Metals leases. Tracy DC Real Estate, Inc. formed in DC by Luksic’s lawyers.|
|December 22, 2016||Tracy DC Real Estate Inc. purchases the Kalorama Triangle mansion at 2449 Tracy Pl NW. [For this part of the story, see this post.]|
|January 3, 2017||First news reports that Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner are moving into the Kalorama mansion.|
|January 4, 2017||Official sale date entered for the Kalorama mansion.|
|January 20, 2017||Reince Priebus issues the Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies.|
|February 2, 2017||Kristin Ball, Acting Director of the Bureau of Land Management, prepares an Information/Briefing Memorandum for Katherine MacGregor, Assistant Secretary of Land and Minerals Management. Subject: Application for Withdrawal, Superior National Forest, Minnesota|
|February 7, 2017||Michael Nedd of the Bureau of Land Management forwards a briefing paper “previously used to brief the DOI leadership” to staff; cc: Karen Hawbecker and Aaron G. Moody in the office of the Solicitor; “as discussed, we would appreciate you all working together to come up with an updated BP with respect to Withdrawal options.”|
|February 9, 2017||email, Karen Hawbecker to Jack Haugrud, includes a “briefing paper to introduce the topic of the Twin Metals litigation to the SOL transition team.”
A paper prepared by Elena Fink of the Bureau of Land Management “options for addressing the withdrawal in Superior National Forest” begins to circulate: forwarded by Karen Mouritsen to Karen Hawbecker. Another email from Aaron G. Moody to Jack Haugrud recommends that Interior “work off of” the BLM paper.
|February 21, 2017||Antofagasta subsidiaries Twin Metals Minnesota and Franconia Minerals file a Supplemental and Amended Complaint against the Department of Interior, Bureau of Land Management, Department of Agriculture, and US Forest Service charging that the Solicitor’s M-Opinion, the Forest Service’s denial of consent, and the BLM’s denial of renewal were arbitrary, capricious, and contrary to law, and inflict “far-reaching” harms.|
|February 22, 2017||A “fire drill”: the Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management has asked the Bureau of Land Management “for a brief ‘nutshell’ on the Twin Metals/Superior National Forest matter that can be given to the soon-to-be-confirmed Secretary [Ryan Zinke].” The paper will be included in Zinke’s briefing book.|
|February 28, 2017||Tracy DC Real Estate obtains business license for the rental at 2449 Tracy Pl. NW. The license expires on 28 February 2019. [update, 5 March 2019: it appears to have expired. For this aspect of the story, see this post.]|
|March 7, 2017||Associate Deputy Secretary of the Department of Interior Jim Cason meets with Acting Director of the Bureau of Land Management Kristin Bail “and one of the issues they will discuss is the Superior NF withdrawal,” according to a March 6, 2017 email from BLM’s Bev Winston to DOI’s Karen Hawbecker. Winston asks specifically whether Hawbecker’s staff has “prepared anything on BLM’s options with regard to stopping the withdrawal process?”|
|April 6, 2017||Kathleen Benedetto: Ext. Meeting Boundary Waters [with?].|
|April 10, 2017||On the calendar of Michael Nedd, Acting Director of BLM: “Mining in Minnesota.” Also on the calendar of Daniel Jorjani. Other attendees: Joshua Hanson, Briana Collier, Yolando Mack-Thompson, Karen Mouritsen, Alfred Elser, Ruthie Jefferson, Timothy Spisak, Marshall Critchfield, Linda Thurn, Lonny Bagley, Jerome Perez, BLM-WO MIB RM5653 Conference Room, Jeff Brune, Mitchell Leverette, Downey Magallanes, Aaron Moody, Shannon Stewart, Karen Hawbecker, Kathleen Benedetto|
|April 17, 2017||Antofagasta Plc CEO Ivan Arriagada sends a letter to Secretary Ryan Zinke. “Due to decisions made in the last days of the Obama adminitration,” he writes, “our past and future investment” — which he values at $400 million — “now hangs in the balance.” He hopes “to discuss a viable path forward” with Zinke, and requests an in-person meeting in Washington, DC, on either May 2nd or 3rd. “Rob Lehman at Wilmer Hale will be handling the scheduling of my meetings.”|
|April 18, 2017||Benedetto: Ext. Mtg. Twin Metals [with? Cf. Friday 16 June].|
|April 19, 2017||Benedetto: Twin Metals. On the calendar of Karen Hawbecker, Associate Solicitor, Dept. of Interior.|
|April 20, 2017||“April XX” draft of Information Memorandum for Secretary Ryan Zinke, outlining “”a set of options for reversing” BLM’s decision on Twin Metals, prepared by the Office of the Solicitor. (On the “XX” in the date of this draft, see this post.)|
|April 21, 2017||email from Karen Hawbecker to Jack Haugrud: Twin Metals “options” paper requesting feedback, “to make sure you’re ok with the approach we’ve taken.”|
|April 24, 2017||On the calendar of Katharine MacGregor, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management. Meeting with Timothy G. Martin of Wilmer Hale, on behalf of Twin Metals Minnesota. MacGregor has a call with Jorjani scheduled immediately after this meeting.|
|April 25, 2017||Kathleen Benedetto forwards a briefing memo [scroll down to page 182] on Twin Metals for Secretary Ryan Zinke’s 26 April meeting with Representatives Tom Emmer and Richard Nolan.|
|April 26, 2017||On the calendar of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke: meeting with Representative Tom Emmer (R-MN, 6th District) and Landon Zinda, legislative council; Representative Rick Nolan (DFL-MN, 6th District) and Will Mitchell, Legislative Director. A briefing by Kathy Benedetto and Kate MacGregor of the Department of Interior on the Twin Metals Leases.|
|April 26, 2017||Briana Collier, an attorney in the Division of Mineral Resources, forwards a briefing paper prepared for the State Department “ahead of an upcoming meeting this week between Antofagasta CEO Ivan Arriagada and the U.S. Ambassador to Chile,” Carol M. Perez.|
|April 27, 2017||Raya Treiser of WilmerHale emails Catherine Gulac at the Department of Interior confirming a May 2nd meeting between Deputy Secretary James Cason and Antofagasta CEO Ivan Arriagada. The email includes “background materials”: a March 22, 2017 letter from WilmerHale’s Rob Lehman to Ryan Zinke; a July 1, 2016 letter from WilmerHale’s Seth Waxman to former Secretary of Interior Sally Jewel; and the July 1, 2016 Waxman letter to Solicitor Tompkins.|
|April 28, 2017||Benedetto Meeting with Rob Lehman, WilmerHale re: Twin Metals Minnesota. On the calendar of Gareth Rees, Executive Assistant at US Department of the Interior. There is also an entry for the same 11AM meeting with Lehman on the Deputy Secretary Conference Room calendar. Created by Deputy Secretary Catherine Gulac.|
|April 28 2017||Benedetto: Twin Metals briefing. On the calendar of Briana Collier. U.S. Department of the Interior, Office of the Solicitor. An email from Karen Hawbecker to Jack Haugrud on April 27 specifies the purpose of this meeting: “to get some feedback from [Benedetto] on the options we’ve identified for reversing action on the Twin Metals decision.”|
|May 2, 2017||On the calendar of Gareth Rees: Meeting with Antofagasta plc re: Twin Metals Minnesota Project. Included in this meeting: Gareth Rees, James Cason, Katharine MacGregor, Michael Anderson, Kathleen Benedetto, [Linda Thurn], Richard Cardinale, Tracie Lassiter, Kevin Haugrud, Mariagrazia Caminiti, Karen Hawbecker. According to internal email correspondence on April 28, 2017, the Antofagasta delegation includes: Ivan Arriagada, CEO, Antofagasta plc; Daniel Altikes, Executive Director, Antofagasta plc; Rob Lehman, Chair of the WilmerHale Public Policy Practice; Andy Spielman, Chair of the WilmerHale Energy and Natural Resources Practice. An April 28th email from Karen Hawbecker to Lisa Russell at the Environmental Resources Division of DOJ indicates “this same group [from Antofagasta] may also have a meeting at the White House.”*
*Update: reporting in the New York Times confirms that the group from Antofagasta met with Michael Catanzaro, who was then top advisor on energy and environment at the Trump White House.
|May 3, 2017||Benedetto: Meet and Greet with Representatives of Save the Boundary Waters.|
|May 4, 2017||On the calendar of Ryan Zinke: In-person meeting with Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. Perdue will refer to this meeting in his 25 May appearance before the House Appropriations Interior Subcommittee..|
|May 10, 2017||On the calendar of Sonny Perdue: phone call with Senator Al Franken to “fill him in on a mineral leasing issue in the Boundary Waters.”|
|May 25, 2017||Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue appears before the House Appropriations Interior Subcommittee.|
|May 26, 2017||Principal Deputy Solicitor Daniel Jorjani call with Rachel Jacobson of WilmerHale, regarding a “DC Bar Event.”|
|June 1, 2017||email, Karen Hawbecker to Jack Haugrud: The White House “has expressed interest in the Twin Metals matter and Doug Domenich [sic] wants to talk to the WH today.” Kathleen Benedetto drafts a memo for Domenech on the Twin Metals Project.|
|June 9, 2017||Benedetto: Chat w/Timothy Martin from WilmerHale, re: Twin Metals – Minnesota. On the calendar of Katharine MacGregor, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management.|
|June 13, 2017||On the calendar of Daniel Jorjani: “Lease cancellation meeting.”|
|June 14, 2017||Jorjani meets with Raya Treiser and Andy Spielman of WilmerHale.|
|June 15, 2017||On the calendar of Gareth Rees: meeting with Jobs for Minnesotans.|
|June 16, 2017||Benedetto Ext. Mtg. Twin Metals – Bob McFarlin [at that time, Vice President of Public and Government Affairs, Twin Metals Minnesota].|
|June 19, 2017||Meeting w/ USDA and DOI on Twin Metals Superior National Forest. On the calendar of Katharine MacGregor and on the calendar of Michael Nedd, Acting Director of BLM.|
|June 19, 2017||Deputy Solicitor Daniel Jorjani forwards a press release to Jack Haugrud: “Reps. Gosar, Emmer, Nolan and Westerman Urge Rescission of 234,328-acre Mineral Withdrawal and Renewal of Leases in Minnesota.” Haugrud sends the item to Karen Hawbecker, with the note: “FYI, in case you have not already seen it.”|
|June 20, 2017||On the calendar of Michael Nedd: Follow Up on Twin Metals Superior National Forest|
|July 10, 2017||On the calendar of Ryan Zinke: “Minnesota Briefing.” Later that day, Zinke meets with Dayton. According to journalist Rachel Stassen-Berger , a spokesperson for Governor Mark Dayton says he and Zinke “discussed the Twin Metals project, and the Secretary expressed his support for the environmental review process established by the National Environmental Protection [sic: read, Policy] Act (NEPA)”|
|July 25, 2017||All Hands on Deck for meeting with Antofagasta Plc re: Twin Metals Minnesota Project. On the calendar of Gareth Rees. Included: Kevin Haugrud, Katharine MacGregor, Michael Anderson, Karen Hawbecker, Kathleen Benedetto, James Cason, Gareth Rees, Linda Thurn, Richard Cardinale, Tracie Lassiter, Mariagrazia Caminiti, Edward Passarelli, Michael Nedd, Daniel Jorjani.|
|August 6, 2017||Karen Hawbecker forwards a briefing paper “about the Twin Metals litigation in preparation for a meeting” with Deputy Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt.|
|August 9, 2017||Katharine MacGregor: meeting with Chad Horrell, Sportsmen for the Boundary Waters.|
|August 22, 2017||Daniel Jorjani meeting on “Minnesota Project” with Michael J. Catanzaro, (White House, Executive Office of the President), Stephen Vaden (Office of General Counsel, Department of Agriculture).|
|August 24, 2017||Department of Interior hosts CEO Critical Minerals Roundtable|
|September 7, 2017||Internal meeting at Department of Interior on Twin Metals: Daniel Jorjani with Jack Haugrud.|
|September 21, 2017||Phone call: Twin Metals. On the calendar of James Cason, Associate Deputy Secretary of the Interior. James Cason with Associate Solicitor John Hay; Associate Solicitor, Division of Indian Affairs Eric Shepard; Deputy Secretary Catherine Gulac; Associate Solicitor Karen Hawbecker.|
|October 3, 2017||On the calendar or “daily cards” of David Bernhardt: call with Congressman Tom Emmer. “Rep to call Gareth [Rees.].”|
|October 4, 2017||On the calendar of Gareth Rees: Office of the Solicitor meeting on Twin Metals.|
|October 3, 2017||Senator Amy Klobuchar attends a “bipartisan” dinner at the Kalorama mansion, ostensibly to discuss criminal justice reform.|
|October 4, 2017||Deputy Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt briefed on Twin Metals. (Gareth Rees will have lunch with Bernhardt two days later, on October 6.)|
|October 12, 2017||Office of the Solicitor meets with Twin Metals Minnesota: mentioned in an October 27, 2017 email from Briana Collier to Karen Hawbecker and Richard McNeer of the Office of the Solicitor. Jack Haugrud sets the working schedule for producing a “Twin Metals M-Opinion Reversal Draft” for “4-6 weeks from when we met with Twin Metals on October 12th.”|
|December 13, 2017||Bob McFarlin, Government Affairs Advisor for Twin Metals Minnesota, writes to “Kathy” [Kathleen Benedetto, BLM]: he is coming to DC for a “quick meeting USFS Chief Tooke and would love to touch base. [Tony Tooke had succeeded Tom Tidwell on September 1, 2017.] I will be traveling with Twin Metals’ VP of Environment and Sustainability, Anne Williamson, who you met in Minnesota this past summer.” He asks that Mitch Leverette, Eastern States Acting Director, Bureau of Land Management, join them. After some back and forth, it’s decided DMR [=Division of Mineral Resources?] should represent the Office of the Solicitor at the meeting.|
|December 15, 2017||Bob McFarlin meets with Kathleen Benedetto: “The litigation is not expected to be the topic of conversation,” according to an email from Justin Katusak.|
|December 20, 2017||At the request of Interior Communications, Gary Lawkowski, Counselor to the Solicitor of the Interior, forwards a “one-pager of talking points on the Twin Metals opinion” to Daniel Jorjani and Jack Haugrud for review. He has put them together “given [or with an eye to] today’s focus on critical minerals.” In a second email circulating the talking points to Deputy Director of Communications Russell Newell, he elaborates: “One thing you all may want to note — the Forest Service has indicated that they believe there are potentially cobalt and platinum deposits underneath Superior National Forest.”|
|December 21, 2017||Email from Russell Newell: Plans for the Minnesota-only news release requested by BLM on the forthcoming opinion are cancelled, and the Department will comment “if asked.”|
|December 21, 2017||Some final revisions to the M-Opinion draft: difficulties finding the correct Weeks Act citation for the paragraph about Statutory Authority (on p. 2 of the issued opinion); reworking of footnotes for the section on lease renewals (pp. 11-13) arguing that BLM renewed the leases in 1989 and 2004 under the 1966 terms. One footnote in particular — number 65 in this near-final draft — “raises issues we do not want to address.”|
|December 22, 2017||Principal Deputy Solicitor Jordan releases Memo M-37049, allowing Twin Metals to renew its leases of Superior National Forest lands.
3:17PM email from Jack Haugrud to Solicitor’s office: “Just got a call from Raya [B. Treiser] at Wilmer[Hale]. Twin Metals is moving today to dismiss their case against us.”
3:44PM Upon hearing that Governor Dayton issued a statement calling the reversal “shameful,” David Bernhardt sends a mocking email to Daniel Jorjani: “He should call Ken Salazar.”
How this timeline came about:
Back in March of 2018, reporting by Jimmy Tobias gave us a little more insight into the Boundary Waters reversal. (My posts on the topic are collected here.) Through a records request, Tobias obtained the calendar of Kathleen Benedetto, Special Assistant to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.
Described as “a fixer for the mining companies,” Benedetto now helps oversee the Bureau of Land Management. She has publicly taken the position that conservation of public lands is a barrier to “progress.”
The Benedetto calendar gave us a much fuller chronology and more detail than we previously had. Tobias identified at least six meetings or communications with mining interests on Benedetto’s calendar regarding the Twin Metals project in Superior National Forest, including the July 25th all-hands-on-deck meeting between high-ranking Interior officials and representatives of Antofagasta Plc. I subsequently learned that the group had met with Antofagasta earlier, on May 2nd, less than a month after Benedetto started meeting with mining company representatives.
When I put Benedetto’s calendar together with the Deputy Solicitor Daniel Jorjani’s calendar, this timeline started to come into focus. Since then, I have been able to consult other calendars and received some materials in response to two FOIA requests. It is now clear that Interior was holding internal meetings about Twin Metals and the withdrawal of Superior National Forest lands in the first weeks of the new administration, and as early as February of 2017.
So there were many meetings about the Twin Metals project before Benedetto hosted a “meet and greet” with a Boundary Waters conservation group on May 3rd, 2017; and it looks as if the reversal was a done deal by the time Katharine MacGregor met with Sportsmen for the Boundary Waters’ Chad Horrell on August 9th.
At the very least, this timeline indicates that restoring Twin Metals “right of renewal” for their mineral leases in Superior National Forest was a priority at Interior from the moment the Trump administration took office.
The lobbying effort was a full court press, led by Raya Treiser, Rob Lehman, and Andy Spielman of WilmerHale. Litigation counsel for Chilean conglomerate Antofagasta plc — Daniel Volchok, Michael Hazel, and Paul Wolfson — are also from WilmerHale.
Note: I’ll continue to make updates to this timeline as DOI releases more materials in response to FOIA requests.