The House voted Thursday to overturn a two-year ban on mining in Minnesota’s Superior National Forest that former President Barack Obama ordered days before he left office, according to The Hill.
The Minnesota’s Economic Rights in the Superior National Forest, also known as MINER, Act passed the House with some bipartisan support 216 to 204. Republicans largely voted for the measure.
“What initiated this situation is an arbitrary overreach by the Obama administration at the last minute,” GOP Rep. Doug Lamborn, chairman of the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources, said according to The Hill. “It was looking to score political points on its way out the door by taking the near-unprecedented action of initiating a full mineral withdrawal that was undemocratic.”
The mining company Twin Metals Minnesota held mineral leases for the site before the Obama administration refused to renew the leases in January. The leases allowed Twin Metals to explore and assess the potential for a copper and nickel mine, according to Minnesota’s Pioneer Press.
The U.S. Forest Service, one of the agencies overseeing the leases, put the agreement with Twin Metals on hold for two years, and possibly longer, to perform environmental assessments of its on the effects mining would have on the area.
“This bill undermines bedrock environmental and public land management laws in order to create a perpetual lease for a foreign-owned, toxic mine,” Democrat Rep. Betty McCollum of Minnesota said, The Hill reports, referring to Twin Metals’ position as a Chilean-owned company.
The MINER Act also bans the U.S. president from using the Antiquities Act to designate a new national monument in Minnesota without congressional approval, the Pioneer Press reports.
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