(TUCSON, Ariz.) Statement of Save the Scenic Santa Ritas’ President Gayle Hartmann regarding the Forest Service announcement indicating that it anticipates signing a Record of Decision for the proposed Rosemont mine after a 25 day review period for the final EIS, ending on June 5, 2017:
The Forest Service’s premature announcement that it is signing a Rosemont decision document is a waste of taxpayers’ money, confuses the public and hands a foreign mining company a public relations “victory.”
Indeed, former Coronado Forest Supervisor Jim Upchurch and current Forest Supervisor Kerwin Dewberry have both publicly explained that the Forest Service can not approve this proposed mine unless and until it is clear that the mine fully complies with all applicable laws.
It is critical note that the U.S. Army Corps’ Los Angeles District Engineer last July recommended that the agency deny Rosemont’s Clean Water Act permit application. That recommendation is consistent with the repeated warnings by the Corps that the proposed mine falls far short of that mark. (Click here for a listing of warnings from agencies at all levels that the proposed Rosemont project failed to comply with the law.)
If the Forest Service proceeds to issue a Record of Decision before the Corps’ decision, it is wasting time, energy and tax dollars in what is nothing more than a PR exercise. In the absence of a Clean Water Act permit, a final Mine Plan of Operations and a bonding agreement, the Forest Service has no decision to make.
Further, the Forest Service’s apparent desire to move forward in issuing this meaningless approval flies in the face of significant evidence regarding the devastating impacts to the region’s water, economy and public lands. Rather, the Forest Service is putting the interests of Toronto-based Hudbay Minerals, Inc. and its investors ahead of American taxpayers.
Within the last few weeks, the Forest Service received publicly available information from Hudbay’s investor filings showing the potential for a much larger mine, possibly even two additional open pits. But the Forest Service, rejected further examination of the potentially significant environmental impacts of a much larger project.
The Forest Service seems to have forgotten its mission, “ . . . . to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the Nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations.” The proposed Rosemont mine is entirely inconsistent with that mission. The mine would permanently destroy at least 3,000 acres of national forest that provide critical water resources to southern Arizona, provide an important component of our economy and contains world-class biodiversity, including the endangered jaguar.
The mine’s devastating impacts to the Santa Rita Mountains watershed and Rosemont’s failure to meet Clean Water Act standards have long been the subject of significant regulatory concerns at all levels. If the Forest Service, for reasons of its own, is determined to proceed along this path, we urge the many other federal agencies with serious concerns regarding the impacts of this proposed mine to use this period to refer the matter to the Council on Environmental Quality under 50 C.F.R. Part 1504.00.
This mine is far from reality. Be assured that Save the Scenic Santa Ritas will fight it in every relevant arena.
[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.