Gov. Dayton: “Strong Opposition” to Sulfide Mine Near BWCA

Monday, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton announced his “strong opposition to mining in close proximity to the [Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness]” in a letter sent to Twin Metals Minnesota Chief Operating Office Ian Duckworth. Governor Dayton had earlier instructed the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to not allow Twin Metals to access state land until the PolyMet mine proposal was decided. But his letter marks a significant shift in policy direction for the Dayton administration, further directing the DNR to not enter into any agreements or leases for mining near the BWCA.

Governor Dayton’s letter included this powerful paragraph describing why he is opposed to mining near the Boundary Waters:

As you know the BWCAW is a crown jewel in Minnesota and a national treasure. It is the most visited wilderness in the eastern US, and a magnificently unique assemblage of forest and waterbodies, an extraordinary legacy of wilderness adventure, and the home to iconic species like moose and wolves. I have an obligation to ensure it is not diminished in any way. Its uniqueness and fragility require that we exercise special care when we evaluate significant land use changes in the area, and I am unwilling to take risks with Minnesota environmental icon.

In a statement, Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness’ Paul Danicic said “his letter will go down as one of the strongest statements of conservation leadership by a Governor in Minnesota history.”

Governor Dayton’s letter also says that he called the director of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to inform him of his opposition to the Twin Metals proposal. Tuesday, the BLM released a legal opinion stating that the BLM has the discretion to deny the extension of two 1966-era federal mineral leases that form the core of the Twin Metals proposal.