MN Congresswoman Blasts Mining Bill Supported by Her Own Party

WASHINGTON – Rep. Betty McCollum opened fire on Rep. Tom Emmer in an op-ed for The Hill last week, criticizing her Minnesota congressional colleague for his position on mining in the state.

Emmer has been pushing for legislation that would prohibit the U.S. Forest Service from withdrawing mining rights in Minnesota without first receiving Congressional approval. This is in response to an 11th hour-decision by the Obama administration’s not to renew mining leases for Twin Metals in northeastern Minnesota.

“The bill would automatically reinstate the foreign conglomerate’s two expired mining leases, which date back to 1966, before modern environmental protection laws like the Clean Water Act,” McCollum wrote in The Hill. “It would override the Forest Service’s clear determination that these leases pose an unacceptable risk to the public lands, water, and wildlife that they manage, and should not be renewed.”

McCollum’s letter is heavy on the attack on Emmer, a Republican, but makes no mention of Rep. Rick Nolan, another Minnesota Democrat who supports Emmer’s legislation.

In mid-June Nolan was even present with three Republican members of the Congressional Western Congress as they visited the office of Twin Metals, reports MinnPost. The purpose of the visit was to show support for the repeal of Obama’s last minute regulations. Twin Metals is a subsidiary company of Antofagasta, a mining company based in Chile.

Despite being a supporter of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) campaign, as a representative of the iron range and most of northern Minnesota, Nolan has made a point of supporting mining.

“Making matters worse, Antofagasta has a horrible environmental record in its home country. In fact, Chilean authorities are considering a $23 million fine against the company for water pollution violations at its flagship copper mine,” McCollum writes. “There is simply no justification for Congress to rewrite the rules to make it easier for Antofagasta to mine on protected federal land. But that’s exactly what Emmer’s proposed legislation does.”

McCollum’s 723 word piece for The Hill makes mention of Emmer by name five times. She somehow avoids mentioning her party cohort Rick Nolan’s name even once.

Anders Koskinen