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Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Stauber’s hypocrisy is astonishing


In a May 1 congressional hearing, Rep. Pete Stauber pointed his finger at Secretary Deb Haaland, the first Indigenous person to be a U.S. cabinet secretary, and accused her of ignoring Indigenous people. The subject was the decision of the Department of the Interior, which Haaland leads, to restrict oil drilling on environmentally sensitive federal lands on Alaska’s North Slope.  Stauber, doing the bidding of his oil and gas industry patrons (as of March 31, $99,450 in contributions in 2023-2024, according to Open Secrets), claimed that Haaland “neglected to speak” to some Native Americans from Alaska who supported drilling. “It’s unacceptable,” he preached. 
 Secretary Haaland may not have met personally with North Slope Native Americans who supported drilling every time they desired. But in November 2023 some met with Haaland’s deputy secretary of the interior, with the director of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, and with a representative of the White House Office of Management and Budget.  Subsequent to those meetings, a department of the interior spokesperson stated “In this administration, the secretary, deputy secretary, and senior interior officials have held more than a dozen engagements with North Slope elected officials, tribal and [Native] corporation leaders—including virtual meetings, in-person meetings in D.C. and Anchorage, and during multiple visits to the North Slope. In her first visit to Alaska as interior secretary in 2022, Secretary Haaland visited Utqiagvik, where she met with North Slope Borough leadership.” 
Rep. Stauber flaunts his supposed concern for Native American interests, so what is his record with the many Indigenous people in the Eighth District? According to the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, when in early 2021 Stauber expressed adamant opposition to the appointment of Haaland as interior secretary, the Band invited Stauber to meet with its leadership council to discuss the appointment. Stauber declined to meet. A few years ago, a Fond du Lac spokesperson told Forum News Services that “In Representative Stauber’s years in office, he has failed to give the courtesy of notifying the band of any proposal directly impacting the tribes. His office has failed to set up tribal consultations on a quarterly basis. Ultimately, he has failed to consult with Minnesota tribes on various matters affecting Indian Country.” 
 That brings us to Stauber’s bill in Congress known as HR 3195, which Stauber deceptively named the “Superior National Forest Restoration Act.” Mining company Antofagasta, owned mostly by the billionaire Luksic family from Chile, has been proposing to mine copper along waterways in the Superior National Forest that drain into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. The impacts of such mining, especially water pollution, would grievously harm the Boundary Waters.
In January 2023, Interior Secretary Haaland, acting on the recommendation of the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management, banned mining on federal lands upstream from the Boundary Waters for 20 years—which is the maximum period for such a ban under current law.  The Minnesota Chippewa Tribe publicly supported a different bill, sponsored by Rep. Betty McCollum and others, that would make the mining ban permanent, thus removing the toxic mining threat for the long term.  Ignoring the position of the Tribe, Stauber pushed his bill through the House on April 30.  If it were to become law—by passing the Senate and being signed by the President—it would overturn the mining ban, reissue mining leases to Antofagasta, and prohibit any court challenge to these dangerous and destructive actions. 
So that’s how much Stauber cares for the interests of Indigenous people.

Becky Rom