REGIONAL— Members of the Iron Range Delegation are reaching out to incoming Biden administration Cabinet nominees in hopes of having influence over decisions that could impact the …
REGIONAL— Members of the Iron Range Delegation are reaching out to incoming Biden administration Cabinet nominees in hopes of having influence over decisions that could impact the northeastern Minnesota economy.
In a letter sent last week to U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland, Biden’s pick for Interior Secretary, and Tom Vilsack, who has been tapped as Agriculture Secretary, Iron Range legislators are seeking to have input over natural resource decisions, particularly any mining or mineral exploration decisions that could impact the region. As Agriculture Secretary, Vilsack will oversee the U.S. Forest Service, which manages millions of acres of surface lands in parts of the region and has veto authority for mining projects on the Superior National Forest. As Interior Secretary, Haaland would oversee the Bureau of Land Management, which controls federal mineral rights in much of the country, including northeastern Minnesota.
“The mining industry, in particular, has long served as the backbone of our economy, and it has significant potential to continue to bring incredible growth opportunities to our area in the future,” wrote the eight lawmakers who signed the letter. “It also can support key priorities of the new administration, including transitioning to a greener economy, ensuring a robust domestic supply chain, and strengthening economic recovery through job creation—particularly among local unions.”
Members of the delegation include Sen. David Tomassoni, DFL-Chisholm, Sen. Tom Bakk I-Cook, Sen. Justin Eichorn, R-Grand Rapids, Rep. Rob Ecklund, DFL-International Falls, Rep. Julie Sandstede DFL-Hibbing, Rep. Dave Lislegard, DFL-Aurora, Rep. Dale Lueck, R-Aitkin, and Rep. Spencer Igo, R-Grand Rapids.
The letter marks a distinctly different approach from that taken recently by Eighth District Congressman Pete Stauber, who circulated a letter to members of Congress that urged President Biden to withdraw his nomination of Haaland over her support for green energy investment and her opposition to sulfide mining on the edge of the Boundary Waters. Stauber’s effort deeply upset tribal officials in the region, who were excited by the historic Cabinet nomination of Haaland. If confirmed, the New Mexico Congresswoman would be the first Native American to serve in a presidential Cabinet.
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