Environment Minnesota delivers 24,000 petitions to Congresswoman Betty McCollum in defense of the Boundary Waters

For Immediate Release

Contact: Sarah Frost, Outreach Director

C (201) 264-5492 sfrost@environmentamerica.org

 Washington, DC – Environment Minnesota delivered more than 24,000 petitions to Congresswoman Betty McCollum to show public support for her efforts to protect the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness from toxic mining.

“We thank Representative McCollum for standing with tens of thousands of Minnesotans to preserve this delicate North Woods gem by introducing the National Park and Wilderness Waters Protection Forever Act,” said Brett Cease, Minnesota native, avid canoeist, and spokesperson with Environment Minnesota.

The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness holds 1.1 million acres of lush forests and pristine waterways that flow north into Voyageurs National Park. With more than 250,000 visitors each year, BWCAW is the nation’s most visited wilderness area.

“I am proud to stand with thousands of Minnesotans who are committed to protecting the Boundary Waters from mining related pollution,” said Rep. McCollum, receiving the petitions. “It is critical that we protect these precious waters from the threat of harm for generations to come.”

The Boundary Waters are currently threatened by the proposed PolyMet and Twin Metals sulfide-ore copper mines, which, if approved, are guaranteed to leach toxic pollutants like sulfuric acid and heavy metals into nearby waterways.

 “Toxic mining pollution into the Boundary Waters’ fragile network of interconnected waterways will harm iconic North Woods wildlife like walleye, moose, and loons as well as threaten the health of all who love to canoe in this wilderness area,” said Cease, who has led students on more than thirty canoe trips into the Wilderness over the past decade.

Last summer, in one of the biggest environmental disasters in Canadian history, a tailings pond dam at the Mount Polley copper and gold mine in British Columbia emptied 4.5 million cubic meters of toxic slurry into a series of lakes, creeks, and rivers that had been an unspoiled salmon-spawning habitat.

To prevent such a catastrophe in the Boundary Waters, this April Rep. McCollum introduced the National Park and Wilderness Waters Protection Forever Act. The bill would prohibit all future mining on federally managed lands in the Boundary Waters’ watershed and hold existing mining leases on those lands to new, more stringent environmental standards. 

The petitions delivered by Environment Minnesota are part of more than 60,000 petitions collected to date by the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters, which calls on the full Minnesota delegation and conservation champions in Congress to support Rep. McCollum’s bill, and on the Obama administration to act now to protect these precious wilderness waters for our children and all posterity.

Environment Minnesota is a statewide, citizen based advocacy organization working for a cleaner, greener, healthier future. For more information, please visit http://www.environmentminnesota.org.

For photos of the petition delivery, please contact Sarah Frost at sfrost@environmentamerica.org.