Three cheers and a beer for Tommy Rukavina!

RUKAVINA: REVERSE MINING LAND WITHDRAWAL

Thomas Rukavina St. Louis County Commissioner Jan 28, 2017 2

Editor’s note: The following is, verbatim, a copy of a letter from St. Louis County Commissioner Tom Rukavina of Pike Township to the Trump Administration over a proposed federal land withdrawal for mining activity.

Dear Secretary Designates Sonny Perdue & Ryan Zinke:

Please let me introduce myself, my name is Tom Rukavina. I am currently a county commissioner in St. Louis County, Minnesota. Previously, I served in the Minnesota House of Representatives for 26 years, serving the hard working people of Minnesota’s Iron Range.

I’m writing to you today to ask for your help in reversing the decision by the Obama Administration’s Bureau of Land Management and United States Forest Service to withdraw nearly 240,000 acres of federal lands in the Superior National Forest of Minnesota from mineral exploration and potential future mining development.

As you may know, the people of the Iron Range of Minnesota have been mining our mineral resources for over 135 years. We have a proud tradition of mining and we are extremely proud of the fact that our mineral wealth and hard work helped build America and win two world wars. We still have five operating iron ore mines in our county that produce 70% of the domestic iron ore. And, as good environmental stewards, we still live in a mining area that is a playground for people from all over the country who come here to enjoy the natural beauty we have protected and maintained. However, we also have more than 4 billion tons of known copper, nickel and other strategic metals in our county and our adjoining county. It is the largest known undeveloped deposit of strategic metals in the world and this huge mineral resource is critical for our nations’ infrastructure, manufacturing and technology sectors, and will help keep America a leader in innovation in both our technological and green energy sectors.

I’m happy to see that President Trump recently reversed the Trans Pacific Trade agreement and delighted that he wants to use American made steel in building our infrastructure. Iron Range steelworkers are also very happy and thankful for this decision. As the author of Minnesota’s law that requires all American flags sold in Minnesota to be manufactured in the USA, I’m in total agreement with the President on his made in the USA efforts. That’s why I feel so strongly that President Trump be made aware of this unlawful taking by the previous administration, it takes away good paying, productive, American jobs.

And, not only is this proposal attempting to lock up hundreds of billions of dollars of mineral wealth, the area in question also encompasses 190,000 acres of state, county and private lands that contains billions of dollars of mineral royalties that belong to our county and Minnesota residents. In fact, 92,000 acres are state school trust lands that would benefit both our K-12 and university students and over 25,000 acres are St. Louis County lands which contain known strategic minerals that would benefit our citizens.

For your information, the citizen of St. Louis, Lake and Cook Counties here in North East Minnesota have already sacrificed and shared their wealth because the 1.2 million acres of Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) is located within the boundary of the Superior National Forest. Homesteads, resorts and cabins were bought out in 1965 and removed. Logging was prohibited on our state and county lands when the area was expanded in 1978. Both the state and St. Louis County still have over 100,000 acres in the BWCAW that we have not been compensated for, even though the law specifically required that a trade of federal lands outside the BWCAW should occur. A compromise was reached in the 1978 law that required that logging and mining would continue to be allowed in the rest of the Superior National Forest. That’s why this new betrayal is so objectionable to the overwhelming majority of the people of this area.

So please reverse this proposal. Please don’t deprive the hard working people of this area of the estimated 12,000 construction jobs and 5,000 long term mining jobs that a study by the University of Minnesota- Duluth projected would be created if all the non-ferrous mining projects in North East Minnesota currently under various stages of development came to fruition. The proposed withdrawal of these lands would provide no environmental benefits or protections that do not already exist under the National Environmental Protection Act and the environmental laws and regulations we already have in Minnesota.

Well over 80% of the people of North East Minnesota support environmentally responsible mining. We have helped make America great for over 135 years and with your help and President Trump’s reversal of this BLM-USFS proposal to withdraw these lands from productive use, to Make America Great and keep the good mining jobs that have sustained our families, communities and state for over a century and we will keep America the leader of the free world for centuries to come. Thank you for your consideration.

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