Congressman Rick Nolan

Representing the 8th District of Minnesota
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Four Key Facts About Rick Nolan’s Position on Mining


Fact #1: Rep. Nolan has never and will never support mining in Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

I have never and will never support any mining in the Boundary Waters. In fact, I was an original cosponsor of the legislation that established the protected Boundary Waters area. I am absolutely committed to safeguarding ALL our beautiful Minnesota lands and waters for future generations. 

Fact #2: Mining can be done effectively without harming Minnesota’s rivers and lakes.

The fact is, we’ve been mining here on the Iron Range for more than 130 years, and our waters are the cleanest and purest in the state. Take a look at the map below. As you can see, the river is in great shape as it runs down through the Iron Range. It’s only when the river approaches the Twin Cities that pollution increases and water quality becomes unsafe and unhealthy. Runoff from farms and factories have even forced some communities in Western Minnesota to pipe in clean drinking water.

Fact #3: All mining projects must go through the rigorous, multi-year environmental approval process.

If a mining project can’t meet state and federal environmental standards, it does not move forward. I have always supported high standards and a thorough process to ensure that Minnesota’s precious land, air, and water are protected.

These rigorous environmental reviews by both state and federal entities often take years to complete. For example, the proposed Polymet land exchange has undergone seven years of environmental review, in addition to the 12 years of intensive review of the company’s proposed copper and nickel mining project. This type of science-based process is essential to protecting our environment as we work to create good paying jobs.

Fact #4: We can create mining jobs AND protect the environment.

We have the brains and the science to create jobs and protect the environment. The simple fact, is we need strategic minerals to create the next generation of “green” technology.

  • New hybrid cars contain more than 1 ton of iron, steel, copper, nickel, and nickel-based aluminum.
  • Wind turbines contain hundreds of tons of steel and copper – and reduce our air pollution.
    • Every computer – television – light bulb – printer – iPad – contains iron ore and precious metals that we mine in Minnesota, and helps reduce our dependency on fossil fuels.

We’ve got two choices on how we get these strategic minerals. We can import these minerals from foreign countries with terrible environmental standards and worker protections. Or we can mine them right here at home, where we control the process, creating good paying jobs, and follow the toughest environmental rules and regulations in the world. To me, the latter choice is just plain common sense.


Why the PolyMet Land Exchange (H.R.3115) is a Good Deal For All


Key Facts about H.R. 3115:

  • This bill finalizes a long-awaited land exchange between the U.S. Forest Service and PolyMet Mining
  • The land swap was already approved by the Obama administration’s Forest Service.
  • Taxpayers get more lakeshore, more timber, more wild rice waters, and 2,000 acres of additional wetlands.   
  • In return, the Forest Service is trading public lands already surrounded by old mining sites, with no public access. (PolyMet already owns the mining and mineral rights to the acres they would receive.)
  • The land exchange enjoys overwhelming support from the Minnesota Congressional delegation, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton, Minnesota Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, and communities, business leaders, civic groups, economic development organizations, unions and folks all across our region.
  • H.R.3115 passed the House 309-99 with strong bipartisan support. 


For videos of Rep. Nolan speaking in support of the land exchange, click HERE.

For letters in support of the land exchange, click HERE.

For maps of the proposed Polymet mining site, click HERE.



More on Mining

Dec 11, 2017 the Monday Report

Six Big Things You Need to Know About Congressman Rick Nolan’s Position on Mining in Northern Minnesota

Mining will never, ever be permitted in the BWCA. And as an original cosponsor of the legislation that established the BWCA, I will never support any bill, or any project - mining or otherwise - that could damage this precious and pristine national treasure.

Dear Friend,

Dec 4, 2017 the Monday Report

House Overwhelmingly Passes Nolan’s Superior National Forest Land Exchange Bill 

Bipartisan Margin was 309-99

Under our Superior National Forest Land Exchange bill, taxpayers will receive more lakeshore, more timber, more wild rice waters, and more wetlands for public enjoyment and recreation.

Dear Friend, 

Nov 29, 2017 Press Release

The U.S. House of Representatives today passed U.S. Rep Rick Nolan’s bill, H.R. 3115, the Superior National Forest Land Exchange Act, which finalizes a long-awaited land exchange in Northern Minnesota between the U.S. Forest Service and PolyMet Mining. 


The exchange – approved earlier this year by the Obama Administration’s U.S. Forest Service after undergoing seven years of scrupulous review – is key to advancing PolyMet’s long-awaited project to open up the copper, nickel and other precious minerals under Iron Range land known as the Duluth Complex.


Nov 29, 2017 In The News

Over the Thanksgiving recess last week, Congressman Rick Nolan received a bit of news. On the first day Congress would return to session, his bill authorizing the PolyMet land exchange into federal law would be in front of the U.S. House on the consent agenda.

Instead of a simple majority, it would need a two-thirds vote, and Nolan and his staff were short a hard head count on supporters. Being a holiday break, few members were around to take an accurate pulse of the House.

As the PolyMet project always seem to go — nothing comes easy.

Aug 15, 2017 In The News

Mining copper and nickel on Minnesota’s Iron Range and addressing global climate change are compatible, complementary and essential to our way of life. We have the brains, the technology and the need to do both.

Aug 10, 2017 In The News

Hundreds of mining supporters attended a Tuesday rally in Virginia to condemn federal intervention that might prevent copper-nickel exploration near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCA).

Jul 26, 2017 In The News

MINNEAPOLIS — The fight over whether to allow copper-nickel mining near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area of northeastern Minnesota is shifting to the capital city as the U.S. Forest Service opens a new set of public meetings on its proposal to bar minerals exploration and development on more than 234,000 acres near the pristine wilderness for up to 20 years.

Jul 26, 2017 In The News

– U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan asked federal lawmakers Friday to approve a land exchange that would benefit the proposed PolyMet copper-nickel mine in northeastern Minnesota.

“It facilitates an important mining project for our national economy, for our national security,” Nolan, a DFLer, testified to a panel of lawmakers.

Nolan is pushing a bill he sponsored to give 6,650 acres from the Superior National Forest to PolyMet Mining Corp., in exchange for other land owned by the company.

Jul 26, 2017 In The News

Calling it a "very good land exchange... for the taxpayers and the citizens of our nation," U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan testified in front of the House Subcommittee on Public Lands Friday in favor of a bill the 8th District DFLer authored.

The legislation would authorize a federal land exchange the contentious PolyMet copper-nickel mine proposal needs in order to advance.

Jul 26, 2017 In The News

If it wasn't for the copper-nickel mine that could result in the end, even the most hardened PolyMet opponent could find something to cheer in the proposed land exchange between the federal government and the mining company.