How a Chilean billionaire could poison a Minnesota wilderness

Latest news

    Circling a deserted wilderness lake in Central Tasmania

    (Credit: Michael Middleton)

    DC Report
    Trump’s Interior Department is reinstating two 1966 leases, written before today’s federal environmental laws, that could allow a Chilean mining company to build a giant copper-and-nickel mine adjacent to the Boundary Waters wilderness area in northern Minnesota.

    The mining company is controlled by Andrónico Luksic, whose family controls a mining, banking and industrial empire that Forbes estimates is valued at $13.1 billion. Luksic also dabbles in Washington, D.C., residential real estate and has a business relationship with the Trump family. He is First Son-in-Law Jared Kushner’s and First Daughter Ivanka Trump’s landlord.

    The Boundary Waters is a 1.1 million-acre wilderness beloved by canoeists and hikers in the Superior National Forest along Minnesota’s border with Canada. Mining in the area could result in acid damage that can last for centuries.

    “There’s a reason that the Boundary Waters is one of the most visited wilderness areas in America: It’s an incredible place,” Sally Jewell, then the Interior Department secretary, said in 2016.

    Twin Metals Minnesota, a subsidiary of Antofagasta PLC, sued in federal court over the leases for 4,800 acres on the southwest border of the Boundary Waters even before the Obama administration decided in December 2016 against renewing them.

    In December 2016, just after Trump’s election, Luksic paid $5.5 million, pocket change for a billionaire, for a six-bedroom home in Washington’s tony Kalorama neighborhood. The house was never advertised for rent, but just a little more than a month after closing on the property, he leased it to Kushner and Trump for $15,000 a month.  The rent is not out of line for properties in the neighborhoods, but The Wall Street Journal said it represents a low 2.5% annual return on the purchase price.

    Just two weeks ago, Daniel Jorjani, a former adviser to various Koch brothers organizations and now the principal deputy solicitor of the Interior Department, wrote a 19-page legal menu arguing that the Obama Interior Department used the wrong legal logic when it opted not to renew the leases.

    Under Obama, the Forest Service launched a review lasting up to two years of risk to the Boundary Waters from copper and nickel mining. The federal government was studying whether to ban all mining activities in 234,000acres next to the Boundary Waters for the next two decades.

    Jorjani traced the history of the land, beginning with an interest in the land in 1952 from International Nickel Company Inc., and various meetings, phone calls, memos and other documents before concluding that the Obama administration erred and “improperly interpreted the leases.”

    A study published in the Journal of Hydrology in 2016 found that polluted water from mining near the Boundary Waters could potentially affect up to 2.3 million acres of American and Canadian public lands.

    More than 74,000 people urged the Forest Service in 2016 not to renew the leases. Becky Rom, the head of the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters, keeps a copy of the federal Wilderness Act of 1964, signed by former President Lyndon Johnson which helped create federally designated wilderness areas.

    “Every generation has a responsibility,” said Rom whose father helped fight to create the Boundary Waters. “It’s not something I could walk away from.”

    View the original article: https://www.salon.com/2018/01/14/how-a-chilean-billionaire-could-poison-a-minnesota-wilderness_partner/

    https://www.salon.com/2018/01/14/how-a-chilean-billionaire-could-poison-a-minnesota-wilderness_partner/

    In the same category are

    Poll: Nevada Turns Away from Democrats Post-Kavanaugh Republicans have surged in several key Nevada races, including Sen. Dean Heller’s (R-NV) campaign, according to a poll released on Monday. Sen. Heller...
    Mueller’s Russia Probe Losing Relevance to Midterm Voters GOP strategist Rory McShane said that the American people have become “anesthetized” to the ongoing Russia investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mue...
    Democrats Gain Huge Fundraising Advantage in 2018 Elections A flood of donations has allowed Democratic candidates to outspend GOP candidates by almost 2:1 in 80 competitive districts since July, according to a...
    Police: Man Strangled to Death by Shirt Stuck in Subway Escalator A New York City man choked to death Sunday after being strangled by his shirt caught in the moving subway escalator, police said. Carlos Alvarez, 48, ...
    Sex worker groups oppose proposed increased massage parlor enforcement Sex worker advocacy groups on Monday opposed a proposal to increase San Francisco’s ability to shut down massage parlors, saying it would only driv...

    Leave a comment

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.