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Environmentalists blast Gosar bill

Posted: Wednesday, Nov 9th, 2011

Congressman Dr. Paul Gosar’s revived land swap bill, H.R. 1904, which passed the U.S. House of Representatives last month by a vote of 235 to 186, has been opposed all along by San Carlos Apache Tribal leaders and is also under fire by a group of environmentalists. Gosar’s legislation has been sent to the Senate. Approval by Congress and the President for the exchange is needed to pave the way for a new proposed 7,000 foot deep underground copper mine east of Superior by the Resolution Copper Company.

The Arizona Mining Reform Coalition, which says it is working to insure mining is done responsibly to protect communities and the environment of Arizona, issued a statement after the Congressional vote saying legislation for the proposed land swap “has never made it through the Senate and the House version of the bill is so bad, it will have a tough time going in the Senate. The bill continues to face opposition from both the Forest Service and the Department of Interior. While the vote is disappointing it was hardly unexpected given the anti-environmental make up of the House. Still, it was rewarding to see a great deal of pressure put on the House from all walks of life opposing of the Oak Flat land exchange.”

The Coalition has said in the past federal officials should require a full NEPA Environmental Review before this land exchange ever takes place. It has also labeled the legislation benefiting the Resolution Copper project as “The Great Oak Flat Land Giveaway.”

Besides issues it has against the $6 billion copper mine east of Superior, the Arizona Mining Reform Coalition is involved in the fight to protect the Santa Rita Mountains from the Augusta Resources Corporation’s proposed plans to develop its new Rosemont Copper Mine south of Tucson.

The organization has also called the proposed Florence underground In-Situ Copper Mine by the Curis Resources Company a “Bad Idea.”

Members of the Arizona Mining Reform Coalition include Earthworks, Concerned Citizens and Retired Miners Association, Grand Canyon Chapter of the Sierra Club, Groundwater Awareness League, Maricopa Audubon Society, Save the Scenic Santa Ritas, Sky Island Alliance, Empire-Fagan Coalition, Dragoon Conservation Alliance and Center for Biological Diversity.

It was in September of 2009 when the Center for Biological Diversity and the Grand Canyon Chapter of the Sierra Club won a major victory in getting a court order stopping a proposed 11,000 acre federal land exchange sought by ASARCO copper to expand its Ray Mining operations mainly in Pinal County and part of Gila County.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled in favor of the lawsuit filed by the two environmental groups and a third organization calling the proposed land swap between the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and ASARCO illegal in that it violated environmental laws as proposed. The lawsuit was first filed by the environmentalists in 2001.

For the complete article see the 11-09-2011 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 11-09-2011 paper.

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