Save the Boundary Waters
Out-of-state mining companies are pushing to conduct a toxic new form of mining, called sulfide mining right outside of the Boundary Waters and near Lake Superior. Runoff from sulfide mining can create toxic sulfuric acid and cause mercury contamination—both of which could leach into the Boundary Waters. We need the EPA to make sure we don't risk this natural treasure by allowing dangerous sulfide mining in the area.
Mining threatens to pollute the Boundary Waters
When we're canoeing, camping, fishing and hiking near the Boundary Waters, we're all careful to leave the lakes and forest in the same pristine condition we found them. So why would anyone allow a toxic new type of mining—called sulfide mining—in the area? Yet:
- Out of state mining companies are already conducting exploratory drilling right outside the Boundary Waters.
- Toxic mine drainage from this type of mining can create sulfuric acid, increase mercury pollution, turn water extremely acidic, jeopardize drinking water sources, kill fish and other wildlife, and destroy the habitat they depend on.
- If mining companies such as PolyMet are allowed to conduct sulfide mining near the boundary waters, the toxic byproducts of the mining process could flow directly into waterways that enter the Boundary Waters and Lake Superior. This is a risk we cannot afford to take.
The Boundary Waters, Minnesota’s pristine wilderness area, is a national treasure. Every year, more than 250,000 people escape to its remote lakes and forests to canoe, hike, camp and fish, making it the most popular wilderness area in the country. In 1978 the Boundary Waters area was established as a protected wilderness—but that is not enough to keep it safe from new threats. We need the EPA to act now and prevent dangerous sulfide mining in the area—before it's too late.
Let's stop the mining before it starts
The EPA already knows that hard-rock mining, such as sulfide mining, is the largest source of toxic waste in the country. That's why it opposed PolyMet's original mine plan for the first sulfide mine in Minnesota: the expected pollution was too great, and the chances it would leach into the Lake Superior basin were too high.
But the fight isn't over. PolyMet is again seeking approval for its toxic mine, and the powerful mining industry will use its influence in St. Paul and Washington, D.C., to try to get approval
If approved, the Polymet mine will make it easier for mining companies to obtain permits for sulfide mines in the area, opening the floodgates for many more mines that will be located only miles from the pristine Boundary Waters Wilderness and endangering the whole area.
It's up to us to stop them. We're asking the EPA to protect the Boundary Waters by opposing any new mines that could pollute this precious area.
A legacy of toxic pollution from sulfide mining
Nearby states that have allowed sulfide mining are suffering the consequences—sulfuric acid has made water undrinkable and destroyed ecosystems. Cleanup is extremely costly and sometimes impossible, and taxpayers are often forced to foot the bill.
The mining companies claim that they have the technology to contain pollution created by the mines—but they don’t have the track record to back it up. One peer-reviewed study found that in all cases reviewed, mining companies claimed they would be able to contain toxic byproducts, but in 3 out of 4 cases their predictions were wrong and they polluted surrounding areas.
Together, we can win
Supporters like you make it possible for our staff to conduct research, make our case to the media, testify in St. Paul and Washington, D.C., and demonstrate the public support necessary to deliver the protections we need for the Boundary Waters.
By taking action online, you can show the EPA that the public overwhelmingly opposes toxic sulfide mining near the Boundary Waters.
Urge the Environmental Protection Agency to prevent toxic sulfide mines near the Boundary Waters.
- ^ Acid mine drainage near the Boundary Waters—thirty years after exploratory drilling.
- Mining companies are pushing to conduct toxic sulfide mining right outside of the Boundary Waters.
- Sulfide mines often leach sulfuric acid and heavy metal contaminants such as mercury into groundwater and nearby waterways. Mercury is a neurotoxin that can cause brain damage and developmental problems.
- This kind of toxic mine drainage turns water extremely acidic and can jeopardize drinking water sources, kill fish and other wildlife and destroy the habitat they depend on.
- Pollution from proposed mines would further devastate Minnesota’s wild rice harvest, an important part of state heritage and a sacred grain for Minnesota tribal people.
- Minnesota has tried this before — and failed. In the 1970s small scale exploration operations led to acid mine drainage that still hasn’t been cleaned up. The new proposals are for much larger mines in the very same locations.