BREAKING NEWS: Two year temporary mining ban has wrong ending date

by Nick Wognum and Tom Coombe -

The publication of a rule to ban mining in portions of the Superior National Forest for two years contains a major typo.

The notice in the January 19 Federal Register lists an end date of January 17, 2017 instead of the intended 2019.

Here is the language as printed:

"For a period until January 21, 2017, subject to valid existing rights, the National Forest System lands described in this notice will be temporarily segregated from the United States mineral and geothermal leasing laws, unless the application is denied or canceled or the withdrawal is approved prior to that date."

Last year, the Forest Service held public forums both in Duluth and Ely to take comment on the potential renewal of exploratory mining leases.

Those leases were ultimately rejected by the Obama Administration. short-circuiting the proposed mining project near Ely and prompting a lawsuit filed by Twin Metals.
When the Twin Metals leases were not renewed, federal officials announced plans to consider withdrawing 234,328 acres of national forest land from disposition under current federal mineral and leasing laws.
The move initiated a two-year timeout on mining development on the lands and ignited the process.

It now appears someone made a mistake in the official publication of the end of the two year timeout, listing 2017 instead of 2019.

"You're absolutely right," said USFS spokesperson Kris Reichenbach. "The Bureau of Land Management knew about it. Something happened in the process of the Federal Register publishing their notice. You're correct, it's supposed to be two years from 2017. There was a correction from 2017 that was supposed to be published."

The Echo attempted to contact the BLM but received no immediate answer. There has been no new notices published in the Federal Register since January 17.
This Thursday in Duluth, the U.S. Forest Service and federal Bureau of Land Management host a public “listening session” on a plan that could ban mining, for up to 20 years, on more than 234,000 acres of federal land in the region.
Public comments will be taken from 5 to 7:30 p.m. during a meeting set for the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center.
Both pro and anti-mining forces are expected to be well represented at the event, as they were at two similar sessions held in 2016.
Last year, the Forest Service held public forums both in Duluth and Ely to take comment on the potential renewal of exploratory mining leases.
Those leases were ultimately rejected by the Obama Administration. short-circuiting the proposed mining project near Ely and prompting a lawsuit filed by Twin Metals.
When the Twin Metals leases were not renewed, federal officials announced plans to consider withdrawing 234,328 acres of national forest land from disposition under current federal mineral and leasing laws.
The move initiated a two-year timeout on mining development on the lands and ignited he process that leads up to this week’s meeting.
Earlier in the year, the Forest Service issued a notice of intent in the Federal Register to prepare an environmental impact statement to study the proposed 20-year withdrawal of federal minerals on the Superior National Forest within the Rainy River Watershed. That started a 90-day scoping period to gather public input on the proposed withdrawal.
Guidance for public comments are posted on the Superior National Forest website at www.fs.usda.gov/superior. Testimony will also be taken Thursday.
Further opportunities for public participation will also occur upon publication of the Draft EIS, including a minimum 45-day public comment period.
If approved, the process would take the national forest land out of circulation for new mining, pending results of a comprehensive scientific analysis of the potential environmental impacts.
The land is adjacent to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, and mining opponents have sought the timeout, contending that copper-nickel mining projects would contaminate waterways and destroy the region’s tourism economy.
While environmental interests have been supportive of the action by the federal government, mining project supporters have taken a different view.
According to Twin Metals, which has invested over $400 million in an effort to develop an underground copper-nickel mine south of Ely, “the withdrawal of federal minerals from future development, and the related impacts of negating future development of state and private minerals, will have a devastating impact on the region’s economy, eliminating the promise of thousands of good-paying jobs and billions of dollars in local investment.”
U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan also chimed in, calling the agency’s actions a waste of taxpayers’ funds and promising to take action to reverse the decision.

https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2017/01/19/2017-01202/notice-o...