REGIONAL— The Trump administration is facing a new lawsuit, this time over its refusal to release documents related to a decision by the Bureau of Land Management to restore two …
REGIONAL— The Trump administration is facing a new lawsuit, this time over its refusal to release documents related to a decision by the Bureau of Land Management to restore two mineral leases for the Twin Metals copper-nickel mine proposal near Ely.
Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness filed the complaint on Tuesday, Feb. 4, after months of what the group describes as “stonewalling” by the administration.
The group made Freedom of Information Act requests for records related to that decision on Sept. 16 and 20, 2019, but the administration has failed to respond. The group, this week, filed suit to force the release of the documents in federal district court in Minneapolis.
The controversial mineral leases issued by the Trump administration in 2018, had previously expired, but were revived by the administration in a move that the Friends have called illegal. The Friends have joined several other organizations and Minnesota businesses in a separate federal lawsuit challenging that action.
Requested documents include all correspondences between BLM and Twin Metals, the Chilean-owned mining company that holds the leases.
“Other FOIA requests have revealed the extent to which Twin Metals and its parent company Antofagasta lobbied members of the Trump administration to hand over this land so they can get one step closer to opening a toxic copper-sulfide mine at the edge of the Boundary Waters,” said Chris Knopf, executive director of Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness.
The filing came in the same week as a hearing on H.R. 5598, otherwise known as the "Boundary Waters Wilderness Protection and Pollution Prevention Act” was held before the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources.
Introduced earlier this year by Congresswoman Betty McCollum, of Minnesota’s Fourth District, the bill would permanently prohibit copper-nickel mining on over 234,000 acres of the Superior National Forest.