Nolan Urges USDA to Reverse Anti-Mining Land Withdrawal
U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan today released a letter urging Acting Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment Dan Jiron of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to reverse the agency’s decision to withdraw more than 234,000 acres out of multiple-use purpose from the Superior National Forest.
In his letter to Acting Under Secretary Jiron, Nolan pointed to the regulatory memo issued on Friday, January 20th by President Trump’s Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and its application to recently announced decisions by the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management. These Federal Register (FR) notices, which were posted in the FR just prior to the memo’s release, relate to the Forest Service’s Notice of Intent to prepare a duplicative Environmental Impact Study that would withdraw the land.
Nolan said that the scope of the withdrawal proposal and the negative effects it would have on his Congressional District and the State of Minnesota appeared, at a minimum, to meet the threshold of regulations subject to the memo’s regulatory freeze and review. He also urged the USDA to promptly move to withdraw these misguided notices from publication entirely.
“We are all in agreement with the USDA’s mission to maintain water quality and to protect fish and wildlife. We must protect our environment,” Nolan said. “That being said, we should also never be afraid of exploration and discovery, or using science and facts to dictate important decisions. We must allow mining initiatives to proceed through the proper, rigorous and thorough environmental process – using science, facts and technology to guide our review of actual projects and environmental technology. Prohibiting this exploration before a project proposal is even made is simply irresponsible.”
Nolan has previously voiced his concern with the decision to withdraw these acres of Superior National Forest land, which goes in direct contradiction to the spirit, intent and letter of the law in the 1978 BWCA multiple-use compromise. This law established the area as predominantly non-motorized, taking millions of acres of lands out of valuable production. The law explicitly reserved lands outside of BWCA in the Superior National Forest for forestry, and management plans were established that included mining and mineral exploration, which was designated a “Desired Condition.”