UPDATE: House passes bill which would end moratorium on mining n - KBJR 6 Your Weather Authority: News, Weather & Sports

UPDATE: House passes bill which would end moratorium on mining near BWCA

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WASHINGTON, D.C. -

A bill that would eliminate a federal moratorium on mining near the Boundary Waters has cleared the U.S. House of Representatives, and will now move on to the Senate.

The bill, called H.R. 3905 Minnesota's Economic Rights in the Superior National Forest, passed with a vote of 216-204. 

H.R. 3905, which is also known as the Miner Act, is sponsored by Republican Congressman Tom Emmer

It would reverse a previous decision set by the Obama Administration to revoke mining exploration leases from Twin Metals, which hopes to establish a copper nickel mine just outside the BWCA.

Supporters of the bill say Twin Metals should have the chance to apply for an environmental review and outline the economic benefit of a potential mine. 

Twin Metals issued a statement regarding the passage of the Miner Act:

“Twin Metals is grateful for the strong bipartisan support shown by Congress today for the working families and communities of Northeast Minnesota. Today’s vote demonstrates Congress’ belief that environmentally-responsible mining can and should be an important component of the region’s and the nation’s future economic security and prosperity.  We thank Minnesota congressmen Tom Emmer, Collin Peterson, Jason Lewis and Rick Nolan and Arizona Congressman Paul Gosar for their leadership, along with the dozens of community, labor and business organizations that joined hundreds of local and state elected officials and other citizens from Minnesota and across the country in support of today’s vote.”

Congressman Emmer says without the passing the Miner Act, 17,000 jobs, $1.5 billion in annual wages and $2.5 billion annually for the economy would be at risk.

Those in favor say they want a level playing field.

"This is just another step in the right direction. We all want to protect all the water sheds in our state, but we also want to be able to invite investment into Minnesota," said Frank Ongaro, the executive director of Mining Minnesota.

However, environmentalists fear toxic runoff from the mine would damage the Boundary Waters, it's tourism, and local businesses.

They also add, it would put an end to a two-year study on the environmental, economic and social impacts of such mining. 

Sportsmen for the Boundary Waters issued the following statement on the vote: 

"The continued progress of this radical bill is deeply disturbing," said Jason Zabokrtsky, chair of Sportsmen for the Boundary Waters. "Tom Emmer is attempting to single out Minnesota as unworthy of five bedrock conservation laws, all to ensure a foreign mining company is granted the right to build dangerous mines on the edge of Minnesota's most iconic public lands. We urge the United States Senate to join the overwhelming majority of Americans in supporting Boundary Waters protection by refusing to consider this anti-science, anti-public lands bill on the Senate floor."

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A vote on a bill to eliminate a federal moratorium on mining near the Boundary Water is currently underway in the House of Representatives.

The decision is expected to be announced at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday.

The bill, called H.R. 3905 Minnesota's Economic Rights in the Superior National Forest, is sponsored by Republican Congressman Tom Emmer.

The House Natural Resources committee passed the bill earlier this month and was brought to the floor on Thursday.

H.R. 3905 would reverse a previous decision set by the Obama Administration to revoke mining exploration leases from Twin Metals, which hopes to establish a copper nickel mine just outside the BWCA.

Supporters say Twin Metals should have the chance to apply for an environmental  review, outline the economic impact, and the countless job opportunities it would offer.

However, environmentalists fear of what damages toxic runoff from the mine will do to the Boundary waters, tourism, jobs and local businesses. 

Join KBJR 6 at 5, 6 and 10 p.m. for more on the impending decision and hear from those who will be impacted. 

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