(TUCSON, Ariz.) Yesterday, Save the Scenic Santa Ritas, the Center for Biological Diversity, Arizona Mining Reform Coalition, and the Sierra Club/Grand Canyon Chapter sent a letter to key federal officials putting them on notice that they intend to challenge in federal court the U.S. Forest Service’s illegal approval of the proposed Rosemont Mine.
The notice sent by the groups’ attorney highlights the immense amount of technical data documenting the significant and devastating impacts that will be caused by Rosemont in violation of federal law.
Earlier this year, the Coronado National Forest issued the final “Record of Decision” (ROD) for the proposed Rosemont Mine incorrectly asserting that the project complies with existing environmental laws and regulations and thus should proceed.
The “sixty-day notice of intent to sue” sets out, in detail, that the Forest Service’s approval of the Rosemont ROD “violat[ed] applicable state and federal water quality standards and requirements and the Clean Water Act.” The letter states that the Forest Service has 60 days to revoke its illegal approval or the groups will take action to challenge the ROD in federal district court. A similar letter regarding the Rosemont Mine’s violation of the Endangered Species Act was submitted by the Center for Biological Diversity in June. [Read more…]
(TUCSON, Ariz.) The Coronado National Forest today issued the final “Record of Decision” (ROD) for the proposed Rosemont Mine. In taking this step, the Forest Service asserts the mine complies with existing environmental laws and regulation and thus should proceed. The Forest Service decision comes despite the fact that Hudbay Mining has yet to receive the critical Clean Water Act permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that it needs to operate.
“The Forest Service’s premature signing of the Rosemont decision document is a waste of taxpayers’ money and is nothing more than a public relations victory for a foreign mining company and its investors,” said Gayle Hartmann, President of Save the Scenic Santa Ritas. “This mine is far from reality – Save the Scenic Santa Ritas (SSSR) will continue to fight it in every relevant arena. The stakes are too high to do otherwise.”
SSSR and other mine opponents oppose the mine because it will violate numerous federal and state laws and regulations. The mine will devastate a critically important Santa Rita Mountains watershed. The mine remains the subject of significant regulatory concerns at all levels including those of the Army Corps’ Los Angeles District Engineer, who recommended denial of the CWA permit last July.
“Rosemont is proposing to dig an open-pit that is a half-mile deep, and one-mile rim-to-rim, piling potentially toxic mine waste 600-800 feet high covering more than 3,000 acres of the Coronado National Forest, in a vital regional watershed,” Hartman added. “It’s indisputable that this project threatens our drinking water along with critical desert aquatic habitats and must be stopped.”
Notwithstanding the outstanding Clean Water Act permit, the Forest Service still has additional steps it must take before mining can take occur. These additional regulatory approvals include submittal and Forest Service approval of Hudbay Minerals’ final mine Plan of Operations and setting the amount of a reclamation bond to ensure that Hudbay restores the site after the completion of mining.
SSSR and the Center for Biological Diversity recently sent a letter to the Forest Service highlighting additional information that it should consider before issuing a final ROD. This includes the impacts of two recent wildfires in the Rosemont project area. The letter suggests that by not considering the fires’ impacts the Forest Service would be illegally issuing a final ROD.
[Editors Note: Rosemont and its supporters perpetuate a myth that the regulatory processes for this mine are taking too long. Click for here for the facts on this issue.)
Save the Scenic Santa Ritas is a non-profit organization working to protect the Santa Rita and Patagonia Mountains from environmental degradation caused by mining and mineral exploration activities.