Ranking Democrat Grijalva Celebrates Protection of Popular Boundary Waters Area from Mining

Washington, D.C. – Natural Resources Committee Ranking Democrat Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) today issued the following statement on U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Deb Haaland’s decision to withdraw more than 225,000 acres in the Superior National Forest from mineral and geothermal leasing for 20 years. The withdrawal will protect the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, one of the most popular wilderness areas in the country, from major environmental damage.

“Some places are simply too special to mine,” said Grijalva. “I’m confident that the Boundary Waters’ more than 150,000 annual visitors, the local communities who rely on its economic benefits and pristine waters, and the Chippewa Bands who have called the area home since time immemorial would agree this is one of them.

“Protecting the Boundary Waters area from mining is especially critical while we’re operating under an antiquated mineral leasing system that does nothing to protect Americans or our public lands and waters from the destruction of toxic mining waste. I applaud the Biden administration’s decision to once again put people and our planet over polluters.”

Hardrock mining is currently regulated by the severely outdated Mining Law of 1872. This more than 150-year-old law fails to protect Americans from toxic mining pollution, fails to give Americans a fair return for minerals extracted from public lands, and fails to incorporate meaningful tribal consultation.

Grijalva is one of the foremost congressional champions for mining reform legislation. Last Congress, he introduced H.R. 7580, the Clean Energy Minerals Reform Act, with Senator Martin Heinrich (D-Nev.), which would modernize mining laws to create a more sustainable mining future that protects special places, respects tribal consultation, and safeguards public health.

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Lindsay Gressard