ELY, MN -- Several environmental groups and businesses are alleging Representatives Pete Stauber and Tom Emmer interfered in the lease renewal process for Twin Metals.
The amended complaint filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. alleges emails from legislative assistants working for Stauber and Emmer used "undue political interference" in an effort to have the U.S Forest Service agree to any future mineral lease renewals.
The coalition behind the complaint, led by Save the Boundary Waters and Friends of the Boundary Waters, says the the Forest Service did not uphold its legal obligation to analyze and justify its decisions approving (or consenting to) mineral leases and renewals of leases.
"Federal agencies are required by law to make reasoned decisions based on the merits - the facts, science, and the law, and this perversion of agency decision-making corrupts that process," said Tom Landwehr, Executive Director of Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness and the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters
The amended complaint is part of a lawsuit challenging the federal government's handling of the lease renewal for the proposed underground mine.
Responding in a statement, Rep. Stauber, a republican representing Minnesota's 8th Congressional District said "From the beginning, I have always believed these projects should have a fair, rigorous regulatory process. It is the job of my staff and myself to ensure my constituents and their livelihoods get the fair shot they weren't getting under the political interference we saw under the Obama-Biden administration," Stauber said. "I have always been an unabashed supporter of the process."
Rep. Emmer, also a republican, represents Minnesota's 6th Congressional District.