ST. PAUL – Rep. Dale Lueck, R-Aitkin, has joined a bipartisan list of more than 50 Minnesota legislators urging support for Congressman Tom Emmer’s bill to reverse the last-minute land withdrawals and to require congressional approval for any future withdrawal actions.
The bill (H.R. 3905) came in response to the Obama administration’s decision in the final months of his second term to withdraw nearly 240,000 acres of federal lands from potential development, effectively killing the proposed Twin Metals mining project in Northeast Minnesota. Congress is expected to vote on the bill this week.
“There are severe ramifications for Minnesota’s school trust lands located adjacent to the federal lands, should the federal lease withdrawals stand.” Lueck said. “Over the long term, Minnesota’s school children could be denied billions of dollars in future royalty revenues for the state’s Permanent School Trust Fund.”
The land withdrawal decision by the Obama administration put 17,000 jobs and $2.5 billion in overall economic impact for Minnesota at risk. In addition it stymies further mineral exploration activity on nearby state and county tax forfeited lands as well as Minnesota’s Permanent School Trust Lands.
“H.R. 3905 has bipartisan support with Minnesota Congressman Collin Peterson joining Congressman Emmer as a co-sponsor on the bill.” Lueck said. “Our support letter is also bipartisan in nature. This is about protecting the future value of Minnesota’s school trust lands which support education for nearly 900,000 K-12 students across Minnesota.”
The bill does not supersede federal, state, or local environmental regulations, and does not permit mining or prospecting in the Boundary Waters. The bill includes clarifying language stating that “nothing should be construed to permit prospecting for development and utilization of mineral resources within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness or Mine Protection Area.”
Lueck currently serves as the chairman of the Legislative Permanent School Fund Commission and as vice chairman of the House Subcommittee on Mining, Forestry and Tourism.