On January 26th, we got word of some very good news out of the Boundary Waters. As of the 26th, the Department of the Interior has “canceled two hard rock mineral leases adjacent to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in northeastern Minnesota.” These mines and quarries posed direct threats to the wilderness area, and we’re stoked to see the DOI taking action on an issue so many outdoors people spoke out about!
From the Interior Department:
Today the Department of the Interior canceled two hardrock mineral leases adjacent to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in northeastern Minnesota. The action comes after the Department’s legal determination that the leases, held by Twin Metals Minnesota, were improperly renewed by the Department in 2019.
“The Department of the Interior takes seriously our obligations to steward public lands and waters on behalf of all Americans. We must be consistent in how we apply lease terms to ensure that no lessee receives special treatment,” said Secretary Deb Haaland. “After a careful legal review, we found the leases were improperly renewed in violation of applicable statutes and regulations, and we are taking action to cancel them.”
A new legal opinion from the Interior Department’s Office of Solicitor found significant legal deficiencies in the circumstances surrounding the 2019 renewal, including: the lease renewal forms contravened the Department’s regulations; the Department did not duly recognize the U.S. Forest Service’s consent authority; and the inadequate environmental analysis failed to include a no-renewal, no-action alternative. Subsequently, the Interior Department has canceled the two leases.
No mineral production has occurred on either lease since the original date of issuance in 1966.”
To learn more about the actions taken by the DOI, you can read this press release.