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Westlake Legal Group > Interior Department

U.S. Significantly Weakens Endangered Species Act

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration on Monday announced that it would change the way the Endangered Species Act is applied, significantly weakening the nation’s bedrock conservation law credited with rescuing the bald eagle, the grizzly bear and the American alligator from extinction.

The changes will make it harder to consider the effects of climate change on wildlife when deciding whether a given species warrants protection. They would most likely shrink critical habitats and, for the first time, would allow economic assessments to be conducted when making determinations.

The rules also make it easier to remove a species from the endangered species list and weaken protections for threatened species, a designation that means they are at risk of becoming endangered.

Overall, the new rules would very likely clear the way for new mining, oil and gas drilling, and development in areas where protected species live.

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said the changes would modernize the Endangered Species Act and increase transparency in its application. “The act’s effectiveness rests on clear, consistent and efficient implementation,” he said in a statement Monday.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement the revisions “fit squarely within the president’s mandate of easing the regulatory burden on the American public, without sacrificing our species’ protection and recovery goals.”

The new rules are expected to appear in the Federal Register this week and will go into effect 30 days after that.

Environmental organizations denounced the changes as a disaster for imperiled wildlife.

David J. Hayes, who served as a deputy interior secretary in the Obama administration and is now executive director of the State Energy and Environmental Impact Center at the New York University School of Law, said the changes would “straitjacket the scientists to take climate change out of consideration” when determining how to best protect wildlife. “We all know that climate change is now the greatest threat ever to hundreds of species,” Mr. Hayes said.

A recent United Nations assessment, some environmentalists noted, has warned that human pressures are poised to drive one million species into extinction and that protecting land and biodiversity is critical to keep greenhouse gas emissions in check.

Climate change, a lack of environmental stewardship and mass industrialization have all contributed to the enormous expected global nature loss, the United Nations report said.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_154532004_14b4009c-704c-4211-82f6-b6cbfc348a54-articleLarge U.S. Significantly Weakens Endangered Species Act United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Jr Interior Department Global Warming environment Endangered and Extinct Species Conservation of Resources Bernhardt, David L

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt on Capitol Hill in May. CreditMark Makela for The New York Times

Ever since President Richard M. Nixon signed the Endangered Species Act into law in 1973, it has been the main United States legislation for protecting fish, plants and wildlife, and has acted as a safety net for species on the brink of extinction. The peregrine falcon, the humpback whale, the Tennessee purple coneflower and the Florida manatee all would very likely have disappeared without it, scientists say.

Republicans have long sought to narrow the scope of the law, saying that it burdens landowners, hampers industry and hinders economic growth. Mr. Bernhardt wrote in an op-ed last summer that the act places an “unnecessary regulatory burden” on companies.

They also make the case that the law is not reasonable because species are rarely removed from the list. Since the law was passed, more than 1,650 have been listed as threatened or endangered, while just 47 have been delisted because their populations rebounded.

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Over the past two years Republicans made a major legislative push to overhaul the law. Despite holding a majority in both houses of Congress, though, the proposals were never taken up in the Senate. With Democrats now in control of the House, there is little chance of those bills passing.

The Trump administration’s revisions to the regulations that guide the implementation of the law, however, mean opponents of the Endangered Species Act are still poised to claim their biggest victory in decades.

A grizzly bear in Yellowstone National Park.CreditJosh Haner/The New York Times

One of the most controversial changes removes longstanding language that prohibits the consideration of economic factors when deciding whether a species should be protected.

Under the current law, such determinations must be made solely based on science, “without reference to possible economic or other impacts of determination.”

Gary Frazer, the assistant director for endangered species with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, said that phrase had been removed for reasons of “transparency.” He said the change leaves open the possibility of conducting economic analyses for informational purposes, but that decisions about listing species would still be based exclusively on science.

Environmental groups saw a danger in that. “There can be economic costs to protecting endangered species,” said Drew Caputo, vice president of litigation for lands, wildlife and oceans at Earthjustice, an environmental law organization. But, he said, “If we make decisions based on short-term economic costs, we’re going to have a whole lot more extinct species.”

The new rules also give the government significant discretion in deciding what is meant by the term “foreseeable future.” That’s a semantic change with far-reaching implications, because it enables regulators to disregard the effects of extreme heat, drought, rising sea levels and other consequences of climate change that may occur several decades from now.

When questioned about that change and its implications in the era of climate change, Mr. Frazer said the agency wanted to avoid making “speculative” decisions far into the future.

Among the animals at risk from this change, Mr. Caputo listed a few: Polar bears and seals that are losing crucial sea ice; whooping cranes whose migration patterns are shifting because of temperature changes; and beluga whales that will have to dive deeper and longer to find food in a warmer Arctic.

Jonathan Wood, a lawyer at the Pacific Legal Foundation, a conservative group that has represented landowners in opposing endangered species designations, said he believed the changes would improve the law by simplifying the regulatory process and making the law less punitive.

“It’s a shift away from conflict in favor of more collaboration and cooperation,” he said.

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May 6, 2019

Westlake Legal Group merlin_149013252_f06a206f-03bd-4ee9-bea7-639ab7a710d8-threeByTwoSmallAt2X U.S. Significantly Weakens Endangered Species Act United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Jr Interior Department Global Warming environment Endangered and Extinct Species Conservation of Resources Bernhardt, David L
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Feb 4, 2019

Westlake Legal Group 00CLI-BERNHARDT-threeByTwoSmallAt2X U.S. Significantly Weakens Endangered Species Act United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Jr Interior Department Global Warming environment Endangered and Extinct Species Conservation of Resources Bernhardt, David L

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Trump Administration Weakens Protections for Endangered Species

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration on Monday announced that it would change the way the Endangered Species Act is applied, significantly weakening the nation’s bedrock conservation law credited with rescuing the bald eagle, the grizzly bear and the American alligator from extinction.

The changes could clear the way for new mining, oil and gas drilling, and development in areas where protected species live. The new rules will make it harder to consider the effects of climate change on wildlife when deciding whether a given species warrants protection. They would most likely shrink critical habitats and, for the first time, allow economic factors to be taken into account when making determinations.

“The best way to uphold the Endangered Species Act is to do everything we can to ensure it remains effective in achieving its ultimate goal — recovery of our rarest species,” Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said in a statement Monday. “The Act’s effectiveness rests on clear, consistent and efficient implementation.”

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement the finalized revisions “fit squarely within the president’s mandate of easing the regulatory burden on the American public, without sacrificing our species’ protection and recovery goals.”

The regulation is expected to appear in the Federal Register this week and will go into effect 30 days after that.

Environmental groups denounced the changes as a disaster for imperiled wildlife at a time when the United Nations has warned that human pressures are poised to drive one million species into extinction and that protecting land and biodiversity is critical to keep greenhouse gas emissions in check.

Climate change, a lack of environmental stewardship and mass industrialization have all contributed to the enormous expected global nature loss, the report said.

Want climate news in your inbox? Sign up here for Climate Fwd:, our email newsletter.

Mr. Bernhardt wrote in an op-ed last summer that the 1973 Endangered Species Act places an “unnecessary regulatory burden” on companies.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_154532004_14b4009c-704c-4211-82f6-b6cbfc348a54-articleLarge Trump Administration Weakens Protections for Endangered Species United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Jr Interior Department Global Warming environment Endangered and Extinct Species Conservation of Resources Bernhardt, David L

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt on Capitol Hill in May. CreditMark Makela for The New York Times

Ever since President Richard M. Nixon signed the Endangered Species Act into law, it has been the most essential piece of United States legislation for protecting fish, plants and wildlife, and acted as a safety net for species on the brink of extinction. The peregrine falcon, the humpback whale, the Tennessee purple coneflower and the Florida manatee all likely would have disappeared without it, scientists say.

Republicans have long sought to narrow the scope of the law, saying that it burdens landowners, hampers industry and hinders economic growth. They also make the case that the law is not reasonable because species are rarely removed from the list. Since the law was passed, more than 1,650 have been listed as threatened or endangered, while just 47 have been delisted because their populations rebounded.

Over the past two years Republicans made a major legislative push to overhaul the law. Despite holding a majority in both houses of Congress, though, the proposals were never taken up in the Senate. With Democrats now in control of the House, there is little chance of those bills passing.

The Trump administration’s revisions to the regulations that guide the implementation of the law, however, mean opponents of the Endangered Species Act are still poised to claim their biggest victory in decades.

A grizzly bear in Yellowstone National Park.CreditJosh Haner/The New York Times

One of the most controversial changes removes longstanding language that prohibits the consideration of economic factors when deciding whether a species should be protected.

Under the current law, such determinations must be made solely based on science, “without reference to possible economic or other impacts of determination.”

Gary Frazer, the assistant director for endangered species with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, said the phrase had been removed for reasons of “transparency.” He said the change leaves open the possibility of conducting economic analyses for informational purposes, but that decisions about listing species would still be based exclusively on science.

Environmental groups saw a danger in that. “There can be economic costs to protecting endangered species,” said Drew Caputo, vice president of litigation for lands, wildlife and oceans at Earthjustice, an environmental law organization. But, he said, “If we make decisions based on short-term economic costs, we’re going to have a whole lot more extinct species.”

The rules also make it easier to remove a species from the endangered species list and weaken protections for threatened species — a designation that means they are at risk of becoming endangered.

They also give the government new discretion in deciding what is meant by the term “foreseeable future.” That’s a semantic change with far-reaching implications, because it enables regulators to ignore the effects of extreme heat, drought, rising sea levels and other consequences of climate change that may occur several decades from now.

When questioned about that change and its implications in the era of climate change, Mr. Frazer said the agency wanted to avoid making “speculative” decisions far into the future.

Among the animals at risk from this change, Mr. Caputo listed a few: Polar bears and seals that are losing crucial sea ice; whooping cranes whose migration patterns are shifting because of temperature changes; and beluga whales that will have to dive deeper and longer to find food in a warmer Arctic.

Jonathan Wood, a lawyer at the Pacific Legal Foundation, a conservative group that has represented landowners in opposing endangered species designations, said he believed the changes would improve the law by simplifying the regulatory process and making the law less punitive.

“It’s a shift away from conflict in favor of more collaboration and cooperation,” he said.

For more news on climate and the environment, follow @NYTClimate on Twitter.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Trump Administration Weakens Protections for Endangered Species

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration on Monday announced that it would change the way the Endangered Species Act is applied, significantly weakening the nation’s bedrock conservation law credited with rescuing the bald eagle, the grizzly bear and the American alligator from extinction.

The changes could clear the way for new mining, oil and gas drilling, and development in areas where protected species live. The new rules will make it harder to consider the effects of climate change on wildlife when deciding whether a given species warrants protection. They would most likely shrink critical habitats and, for the first time, allow economic factors to be taken into account when making determinations.

“The best way to uphold the Endangered Species Act is to do everything we can to ensure it remains effective in achieving its ultimate goal — recovery of our rarest species,” Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said in a statement Monday. “The Act’s effectiveness rests on clear, consistent and efficient implementation.”

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement the finalized revisions “fit squarely within the president’s mandate of easing the regulatory burden on the American public, without sacrificing our species’ protection and recovery goals.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_154532004_14b4009c-704c-4211-82f6-b6cbfc348a54-articleLarge Trump Administration Weakens Protections for Endangered Species United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Jr Interior Department Global Warming environment Endangered and Extinct Species Conservation of Resources Bernhardt, David L

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt on Capitol Hill in May. CreditMark Makela for The New York Times

Ever since President Richard M. Nixon signed the Endangered Species Act into law, it has been the most essential piece of United States legislation for protecting fish, plants and wildlife, and acted as a safety net for species on the brink of extinction. The peregrine falcon, the humpback whale, the Tennessee purple coneflower and the Florida manatee all likely would have disappeared without it, scientists say.

Republicans have long sought to narrow the scope of the law, saying that it burdens landowners, hampers industry and hinders economic growth. They also make the case that the law is not reasonable because species are rarely removed from the list. Since the law was passed, more than 1,650 have been listed as threatened or endangered, while just 47 have been delisted because their populations rebounded.

Over the past two years Republicans made a major legislative push to overhaul the law. Despite holding a majority in both houses of Congress, though, the proposals were never taken up in the Senate. With Democrats now in control of the House, there is little chance of those bills passing.

The Trump administration’s revisions to the regulations that guide the implementation of the law, however, mean opponents of the Endangered Species Act are still poised to claim their biggest victory in decades.

A grizzly bear in Yellowstone National Park.CreditJosh Haner/The New York Times

One of the most controversial changes modifies longstanding language that prohibits the consideration of economic factors when deciding whether a species should be protected.

Under the current law, such determinations must be made solely based on science, “without reference to possible economic or other impacts of determination.”

“There can be economic costs to protecting endangered species,” said Drew Caputo, vice president of litigation for lands, wildlife and oceans at Earthjustice, an environmental law organization. But, he said, “If we make decisions based on short-term economic costs, we’re going to have a whole lot more extinct species.”

The rules also make it easier to remove a species from the endangered species list and weaken protections for threatened species — a designation that means they are at risk of becoming endangered. It also gives the government new discretion in deciding what is meant by the term “foreseeable future.”

That’s a semantic change with far-reaching implications, because it enables regulators to ignore the effects of extreme heat, drought, rising sea levels and other consequences of climate change that may occur several decades from now.

Among the animals at risk from this change, Mr. Caputo listed a few: Polar bears and seals that are losing crucial sea ice; whooping cranes whose migration patterns are shifting because of temperature changes; and beluga whales that will have to dive deeper and longer to find food in a warmer Arctic.

Jonathan Wood, a lawyer at the Pacific Legal Foundation, a conservative group that has represented landowners in opposing endangered species designations, said he believed the changes would improve the law by simplifying the regulatory process and making the law less punitive.

“It’s a shift away from conflict in favor of more collaboration and cooperation,” he said.

For more news on climate and the environment, follow @NYTClimate on Twitter.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

A Plan to Mine the Minnesota Wilderness Hit a Dead End. Then Trump Became President.

ELY, Minn. — In the waning months of the Obama administration, a Chilean conglomerate was losing a fight with the United States government over a copper mine that it wanted to build near a pristine wilderness area in Minnesota.

The election of President Trump, with his business-friendly bent, turned out to be a game-changer for the project.

Beginning in the early weeks of Mr. Trump’s presidency, the administration worked at a high level to remove roadblocks to the proposed mine, government emails and calendars show, overruling concerns that it could harm the Boundary Waters, a vast landscape of federally protected lakes and forests along the border with Canada.

Executives with the mining company, Antofagasta, discussed the project with senior administration officials, including the White House’s top energy adviser, the emails show. Even before an interior secretary was appointed to the new administration, the department moved to re-examine leases critical to the mine, eventually restoring those that the Obama administration had declined to renew. And the Forest Service called off an environmental review that could have restricted mining, even though the agriculture secretary had told Congress that the review would proceed.

An Interior Department spokesman said it simply worked to rectify “a flawed decision rushed out the door” before Mr. Trump took office. Several senior department officials with previous administrations, however, said they were surprised by the swift change of course for the little-known Minnesota project, which was not a focal point of Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign.

For the family of the billionaire Andrónico Luksic, which controls the Chilean conglomerate, the policy reversals could provide a big boost to its mining business. Since the change in administration, the Antofagasta subsidiary Twin Metals Minnesota has significantly ramped up its lobbying in Washington, according to federal disclosures, spending $900,000.

ImageWestlake Legal Group 00CLI-HOUSE-luksic-articleLarge A Plan to Mine the Minnesota Wilderness Hit a Dead End. Then Trump Became President. Zinke, Ryan (1961- ) Wilderness Areas Wetlands washington dc United States Politics and Government Trump, Ivanka Trump, Donald J Tidwell, Thomas L Renting and Leasing (Real Estate) Minnesota Mines and Mining Lobbying and Lobbyists Kushner, Jared Kushner, Charles Interior Department Greenhouse Gas Emissions Global Warming Forests and Forestry Forest Service environment Chile Carbon Dioxide Banco de Chile Bachelet, Michelle Appointments and Executive Changes

Andrónico Luksic’s plan for a copper mine in Minnesota was blocked by President Barack Obama. His fortunes have since shifted.CreditMartin Bernetti/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Ivanka Trump, left, and Jared Kushner, second from left, two of the president’s closest advisers.CreditAlex Wong/Getty Images

But the mining project’s breakthrough, already unpopular with environmentalists, has drawn additional scrutiny and criticism because of an unusual connection between Mr. Luksic and two of Mr. Trump’s family members.

Just before Mr. Trump took office, Mr. Luksic added a personal investment to his portfolio: a $5.5 million house in Washington. Mr. Luksic bought the house with the intention of renting it to a wealthy new arrival to Mr. Trump’s Washington, according to Rodrigo Terré, chairman of Mr. Luksic’s family investment office, which handled the purchase.

The idea worked. Even before the purchase was final, real estate agents had lined up renters: Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump.

The rental arrangement has been a point of concern for ethics experts and groups opposed to mining near the Boundary Waters, and has focused national attention, particularly among some Democrats in Congress, on an otherwise local debate.

The Wall Street Journal first reported about the house in March 2017. At that time, Twin Metals was suing the federal government over the mining leases, but the Trump administration’s direction on the mine since then had only begun to take shape.

In recent months, the scrutiny has grown. In March, Representative Raúl M. Grijalva, the Arizona Democrat who is chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, wrote a letter with other lawmakers to the interior and agriculture secretaries raising significant concerns about the proposed mine.

The letter said the two departments’ actions “blatantly ignored scientific and economic evidence.” It also mentioned the “interesting coincidence” surrounding the rental of the Luksic house to Mr. Trump’s relatives. Separately, a group in Minnesota opposed to the mining, Save the Boundary Waters, has called the rental arrangement “deeply troubling” and has seized on it to cast doubt on the administration’s actions.

The White House and representatives for the couple declined to answer questions about whether the rental deal had been reviewed by ethics officials. “Both Mr. Kushner and Ms. Trump follow the ethics advice they received when they entered government service,” said Peter Mirijanian, a spokesman for Mr. Kushner’s lawyer, Abbe Lowell.

Mr. Terré called the lease a simple real estate transaction that happened to involve the incoming president’s family. “I do not believe there was anything unethical or inappropriate about this business transaction,” he said.

Both Mr. Mirijanian and Mr. Terré said the rental was not related to the Minnesota mine. “There is no correlation in any way,” Mr. Mirijanian said. They were “two entirely unrelated matters” and tying them together was “based on unfounded rumors and speculation,” Mr. Terré said.

An Interior Department spokeswoman said that neither Mr. Kushner nor Ms. Trump been involved in discussions about the mine.

Nonetheless, several ethics experts said they would have cautioned Mr. Kushner and Ms. Trump against renting the home, given the Luksic family’s business before the administration.

“There may be nothing wrong,” said Arthur Andrew Lopez, a federal government ethics official for two decades who is now a professor at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business. “But it doesn’t look good.”

Antofagasta hopes to mine on the edge of the Boundary Waters, which encompasses more than a million acres of lakes and forest.CreditTim Gruber for The New York Times

The Boundary Waters hold a special place in American geography: More than a million acres of lakes and forests provide a rich habitat for thousands of species, including the gray wolf and Canada lynx. But below the surface and beyond lies richness of another sort, an estimated four billion tons of copper and nickel ore — believed to be one of the world’s largest undeveloped mineral deposits.

The mining giant controlled by the Luksic family, Antofagasta, took full control of the project in 2015, and its executives have called it the company’s “most advanced international opportunity.” Antofagasta, which is publicly traded in London, is poised to benefit from the growing use of copper in renewable-energy technologies like wind and solar. It lists Mr. Luksic as a board member, and his younger brother, Jean-Paul Luksic, as chairman.

The company has spent more than $450 million so far on the project, run by the subsidiary, Twin Metals Minnesota. It says the project will generate hundreds of mining jobs.

The promise of employment resonates in Minnesota’s Iron Range, which has lost a quarter of its mining jobs since 2000. “The mining industry brings a tsunami effect for the community with regard to jobs, schools, everything,” said Andrea Zupancich, the mayor of Babbitt, a town of 1,500 near the proposed mine.

Antofagasta’s environmental record, however, has raised concerns. In Chile, the company’s Los Pelambres copper mine has suffered toxic spills, according to environmental groups. The company said the mine had experienced only “minor incidents involving limited spills” which were not toxic, and said it was proud of its environmental record.

In a 2016 analysis, Thomas Tidwell, who was then chief of the United States Forest Service, warned of risks to the Boundary Waters from the proposed Twin Metals mine, including the leaching of harmful metals. Mining, he concluded, risked “serious and irreplaceable harm to this unique, iconic, and irreplaceable wilderness.”

Twin Metals called the analysis “riddled with errors” and said “environmental risks will be properly managed.”

Still, the fears have divided nearby residents. “In the summer, we drink out of this water,” said Susan Schurke, who runs Wintergreen Northern Wear, an outdoor clothing company. “Once that’s tainted, it’s over. How can we risk that?”

When the Obama administration moved to block the project in 2016, Twin Metals sued. The company said in a statement then that the administration’s move threatened jobs and would “hinder access to one of the world’s largest sources of copper, nickel and platinum — resources of strategic importance to the U.S. economy and national defense.”

Just as the mining company’s hopes appeared to be on the ropes, it got a welcome surprise: Mr. Trump’s election, and the promise of a pro-industry agenda.

“In 100 years, this water is going to be far more valuable a resource here than copper,” Sullen Sack, a wilderness educator, said.CreditTim Gruber for The New York Times
A map of the Boundary Waters at Ely Outfitting Company in Ely, Minn.CreditTim Gruber for The New York Times The region has lost a quarter of its mining jobs since 2000.CreditTim Gruber for The New York Times

With a new administration on its way to Washington, Mr. Luksic contacted a real estate broker he knew for help with an investment idea: buying residential properties in Washington, including a luxury home, to rent out.

With the help of the broker, Rodrigo Valderrama, Mr. Luksic’s family investment office, which through corporate entities owns a portfolio of real estate in the United States, bought two condominiums in the capital. One was never rented and the other was later sold at a loss.

As for the luxury home, Mr. Valderrama spent weeks touring homes and alerting brokers that he had an interested client. One house he saw was on Tracy Place, in the Kalorama neighborhood, being handled by the real estate firm Washington Fine Properties.

Ms. Trump and Mr. Kushner were using the same firm for their hunt for a house to rent. With Mr. Kushner’s parents tagging along, they saw the six-bedroom, 7,000-square-foot Kalorama home as well.

In the space of a week, Mr. Luksic’s representatives agreed to buy the house and closed on the all-cash transaction, while their would-be tenants waited for the purchase to be complete.

The two sides, working through brokers, agreed on rent of $15,000 per month. Mr. Terré described it as being in the “high range” for the area, which some real estate agents confirmed. Still, that rent was significantly lower than what the couple had discussed paying for another more expensive house, according to interviews.

The home rented by Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump in the Kalorama neighborhood of Washington.CreditTom Brenner for The New York Times

Mr. Terré said both sides were aware of each others’ identities before the rental deal was finalized. “We disclosed our name and the name of my boss,” he said in a telephone interview. Mr. Mirijanian said the couple had decided to lease the home before knowing the landlord’s identity. He did not directly respond to questions about whether they learned of that identity before signing the lease.

Mr. Luksic has written on Twitter that he does not know Mr. Trump or any member of his family, and only met Mr. Trump briefly at a New England Patriots football game years ago. Mr. Terré said Mr. Luksic “has not had any interactions with the Trump White House.”

Critics of the Luksic family say they were suspicious of the Washington investments because of Mr. Luksic’s past in Chile, where he has faced claims of attempts to win favor with the family of a former Chilean president. The Luksic family, one of the world’s wealthiest, has interests spanning banking, manufacturing, energy, shipping and beer.

Mr. Luksic came under fire for meeting with the son and daughter-in-law of Michelle Bachelet, who was running to be president of Chile at the time, as they sought a $10 million loan for their company from Banco de Chile, which is controlled by the Luksic family conglomerate. After Ms. Bachelet’s 2013 election, the bank approved the loan.

A spokesman for Ms. Bachelet said an investigation into the meeting didn’t lead to any charges. Representatives for Mr. Luksic said that he never discussed the loan with Ms. Bachelet, and that regulators found “there was absolutely nothing irregular about the bank’s approval of the loan.”

The Trump administration’s efforts to smooth the way for Antofagasta’s mining ambitions began less than two weeks after the inauguration, when Interior Department officials began re-examining the leases, the government emails show.

The message from an early meeting, according to an attendee who spoke on condition of anonymity, was that officials should prepare for a change in direction.

Officials also made sure the incoming interior secretary, Ryan Zinke, not yet in the job, was briefed. In an email, one Interior Department official described that effort as a “fire drill.”

The administration’s efforts are documented in part in thousands of pages of government emails and calendars, many obtained through records requests by Louis V. Galdieri, a documentary filmmaker, and the Sierra Club, an environmental organization.

A key meeting occurred in early May, when Antofagasta’s chief executive, along with other executives and lobbyists, discussed the issue with the White House’s top adviser on domestic energy and the environment, Michael Catanzaro. The company said it wanted to reverse the Obama-era decisions, which it said were illegal and inflicted “undue damage.”

Rock core samples taken by Twin Metals as part of preparations for mining.CreditTim Gruber for The New York Times
Near the Wintergreen Dogsled Lodge outside Ely. Dogsledding in the Boundary Waters wilderness is popular in winter.CreditTim Gruber for The New York Times A slab of taconite iron ore, a major local industry in decades past, on display in Babbitt, Minn.CreditTim Gruber for The New York Times

The next month, Interior Department officials learned that the White House had “expressed interest in the Twin Metals matter,” according to an email sent by a department lawyer marked “TIME SENSITIVE.” Soon after, top interior appointees traveled to the Minnesota site.

That December, the department reversed course on denying the company’s leases, and Twin Metals withdrew its lawsuit. The Interior Department formally renewed the leases last month, with some restrictions.

Twin Metals scored another victory in September when the Forest Service cut short its mining-ban review. An agency spokesman said it had determined that neither the study nor a ban was needed.

A Twin Metals spokesman, David Ulrich, said the company’s outreach was part of a long-running effort to share its views with the federal government. Obama administration officials had also visited the mining site, he said.

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“We are confident that this world-class mineral resource can be developed safely and with a minimal impact to the environment,” he said in a statement.

The mine still faces a yearslong permitting and approval process. Engineers have been drilling boreholes and wells to study the region’s geology and water, and the company is preparing an operating plan.

“The last administration created some challenges,” Mr. Ulrich said during a tour of the site on the Boundary Waters’ edge. “But it was never not moving forward.”

On a trip to Minnesota in April, Mr. Trump was jubilant about the restoration of mining.

“Under the previous administration,” he said at a truck factory, “America’s rich natural resources were put under lock and key.” The changes since then, he said, were “really pretty amazing.”

Moonrise over Garden Lake, on the edge of the Boundary Waters in Minnesota.CreditTim Gruber for The New York Times

Reporting was contributed by Lisa Friedman in Washington, Jesse Drucker and Kate Kelly in New York, and Pascale Bonnefoy in Santiago, Chile. Kitty Bennett and Alain Delaquérière contributed research.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com