Stauber Challenges Job-Killing Legislation in House Natural Resources Committee

February 5, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Pete Stauber (MN-08) participated in a House Natural Resources Committee hearing to voice his strong opposition to H.R. 5598, a bill authored by Congresswoman Betty McCollum, that would kill high-wage mining jobs in northern Minnesota. As a guest of the Committee, Congressman Stauber had the chance to personally question witnesses on the impact that this bill would have on his district.

While Congresswoman McCollum was present at the beginning of the hearing to give an opening statement, she left immediately after and chose not to answer Congressman Stauber’s questions on her legislation that would directly impact his constituents.

Congressman Stauber began his remarks by quoting a letter that former Congressman Jim Oberstar wrote to President Carter in 1978, stating, “I urge you not to trade off lifestyles, livelihoods, and legitimate desires of the people of northeastern Minnesota for equitable treatment in favor of the vague and ill-defined interests of other, perhaps more clamorous constituencies far removed from the BWCA.”

Stauber followed, stating, “Therefore, I am disappointed that members of my delegation introduced a bill that directly affects the livelihood of my constituents without providing me or my office any consultation whatsoever. The communities on the Iron Range are in desperate need of economic revitalization. There needs to be quality jobs available for folks to stick around after high school.”

Stauber added, “The Twin Metals project has already signed a Project Labor Agreement with the Iron Range Building Trades, promising high-wage, labor-protected jobs. Your bill would nullify this PLA, making it clear you believe my constituents are not worthy of high-wage, labor protected jobs.”

Stauber quoted an email that another Minnesota politician, Senator Amy Klobuchar, wrote to President Obama’s Secretary of Agriculture, stating, “It should have been handled through the normal process. It wasn’t…I’m not for or against this project, but I just wanted a fair process based on science that told us the truth.”

Stauber concluded, stating, “So, Representative McCollum, we have former-Congressman Oberstar, Governor Walz’s Department of Natural Resources, and Senator Klobuchar all agreeing that we need mining and a fair process for permitting. By introducing this legislation, are you making the implication that they are uniformed? Are you making the implication that they don’t care about the environment?

Watch Stauber’s full statement, HERE.

Congressman Stauber had the chance to question the Business Manager of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 49, Jason George, on the impact that mining has in northeast Minnesota.

Stauber asked Mr. George whether he anticipated more Operating Engineers going through his registered apprenticeship program and working on projects in and around our Iron Range towns, should Twin Metals be permitted.

Mr. George responded, “I definitely do. There will be tremendous amount of opportunity, just to build the mine alone is millions of work hours. We will for sure be adding people to our apprenticeship roles from the local area. And then, once the mine is in operation, there is all kinds of projects that happen within that mine, including building roads within the mine and outside the mine.”

Stauber followed, asking, “In your written testimony, you highlighted that hundreds of your members owe their living to the existence of the mining industry in northern Minnesota and almost 70% of locals in the region support the opportunity for precious metal mining. Just a rough estimate, how many Operating Engineers are employed in mining operations in Minnesota?”

Mr. George answered, “Hundreds. And they all live right where the mines are.”

Stauber questioned, “What’s the average salary?”

Mr. George, responded, “60,000 is average, but many of my members make close to $100,000 a year as a result of the mining activity.”

Stauber concluded, “Which is far above the average income for Minnesota’s Eighth District.”

Watch this full line of questioning, HERE.