House Passes Superior National Forest Land Exchange Act

WASHINGTON D.C. – The U.S. House of Representatives today passed the Superior National Forest Land Exchange Act, which finalizes a long-awaited land exchange in Northern Minnesota between the U.S. Forest Service and PolyMet Mining.

The exchange has been undergoing seven years of review, and is key to the advancement of PolyMet’s copper-nickel mine project.

The bill was forged by Rep. Rick Nolan, who says it will create hundreds of good-paying mining jobs, and will increase tourism-related activities in the Superior National Forest.

“This bill is a win for tax payers, for the environment, and for good paying jobs,” said Nolan in a statement Monday night. “The public will gain access to 2,000 acres of beautiful wetlands, lakeshore, and wild rice waters, while PolyMet receives a smaller area bordered by existing mining operations and infrastructure that it already owns the mineral rights to. If the land exchange – which has already been approved by the Obama Administration’s Forest Service – becomes law, it would mark an important step toward providing our Nation the precious metals it requires to meet growing demands in defense, manufacturing, health care, environmental “green technologies and medical research. As I have said many times before, any potential mining project must meet the rigorous state and federal environmental regulations before it can move forward.”

This legislation will not affect the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in any way and it will not authorize any mining project. According to Nolan’s office, the bill will expedite the pending transaction of 6,690 acres of private land to become public, granting visitors and tribal members access to recreational areas, timber resources, wild rice waters at Hay Lake, and 2,000 acres of wetlands. PolyMet will then receive 6,650 acres of mining land.

Rep. Nolan’s office received numerous letters in support of the bill, including:

  • The communities of Babbitt and Hoyt Lakes.
  • The Range Association of Municipalities – representing 40 communities across the region.
  • The Port of Duluth.
  • The Duluth Building Trades.
  • The Duluth Chamber of Commerce.
  • The Democratic and Republican leaders of the Minnesota legislature.
  • The bipartisan Iron Range Delegation to the Minnesota legislature.