Congressman-elect Pete Stauber may not be in Washington D.C. yet, but he’s already going to bat for mining jobs in northern Minnesota.
Before lawmakers head home for the holidays, Stauber is encouraging Congress to pass outgoing Rep. Rick Nolan’s land swap legislation that would help open doors to more mining in the Eighth District.
“As the Congressman-Elect of the 8th congressional district I am encouraging the current Congress to support legislation introduced by Rep. Rick Nolan that would finalize the land exchange in northern Minnesota for PolyMet Mining,” Stauber said in a press release. “We both strongly agree on the importance of environmentally safe mining in northern Minnesota.”
Nolan’s bill, the Superior National Forest Land Exchange Act, directs the Department of Agriculture to swap National Forest System land within the Superior National Forest to PolyMet Mining. The actual land exchange — which grants Polymet access to 6,500 acres that previously belonged to the U.S. Forest service in exchange for the Superior National Forest acquiring 6,900 acres of previously private land — already took place in June. However, the deal needs congressional approval, or will potentially face legal challenges.
Nolan, a Democrat, has praised the land swap, saying it has both public and economic benefits. The bill successfully passed through the House last year, but was eventually dropped from the National Defense Authorization Act as the bill went through the conference committee. At the time the bill was passed, Nolan said was a win for the both environment and mining jobs.
“This bill is a win for taxpayers, for the environment, and for good paying jobs,” Nolan said in a statement. “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.”
While Stauber hopes the legislation will be passed before he is sworn into office in January, he is prepared to continue Nolan’s push if he has to.
“If this legislation doesn’t become law, one of my first acts in the 116th Congress will be to introduce Nolan’s land exchange bill so we can unleash the economic engine in the 8th district and create good-paying jobs for working families in our region,” Stauber said.
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