Tucson filmmaker Leslie Epperson has produced a beautiful new short film about Rosemont entitled Long Mountain, featuring Tohono O’odham leader Austin Nuñez and activists in our coalition speaking about the proposed mine and the special values of our beloved Santa Rita Mountains. Enjoy!
We are excited to report another major win in the fight to protect the Santa Ritas: this week a federal judge ordered federal wildlife officials to redo their analysis of potential effects on jaguars and other endangered species. This ruling overturns yet another key permit the proposed Mine would need in order to operate, saying the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service used an improper evaluation standard and now must “reconsider whether the Rosemont Mine is ‘likely’ to result in destruction or adverse modification of the jaguar’s critical habitat” and impact other endangered species. Please see the press release from the Center for Biological Diversity for more info.
This ruling follows another from this past July that halted construction of the proposed mine, which Hudbay and the federal government appealed.
Regarding this appeal (originally filed in Nov. 2017 challenging the Forest Service’s approval of the mine), we now have a schedule for that case in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals – not definitive, but at least a general time frame:
- April 4th, 2020, OPENING BRIEFS from Hudbay and the Feds
- Approximately 60 days after that – about June 3rd, 2020 — OUR RESPONSE will be due
- Oral arguments probably not until late in 2020 or even into 2021
We’ll post any updates as they are announced, and will continue to celebrate each victory we have that protects our beloved Santa Ritas.
Until then, all quiet on the Rosemont front,
Gayle Hartmann, President
Check out this new video from James Glinski an SSSR supporter.
What an eventful year this has been! But, let’s back up a bit to 2018.
In January 2018 a newspaper headline declared: “Rosemont Mine ready to build in ’19 if final permit goes through.” Of course, the “final permit” refers to the Clean Water Act 404 permit, which the Army Corps of Engineers is in charge of issuing. It took a while, but the permit was, indeed, issued in early March 2019.
By that time lawsuits, including ours, had been filed challenging the Forest Service for issuing its Record of Decision, which would allow the Rosemont Mine to proceed, pending the granting of the 404 permit. The organizations filing the suits were Save the Scenic Santa Ritas, joined by Sierra Club, Arizona Mining Reform Coalition, and Center for Biological Diversity. Separate suits were also filed by the Tohono O’odham Nation, Pascua Yaqui Tribe and the Hopi Tribe (impacts on cultural resources); and Center for Biological Diversity (impacts on endangered species).
For many months the news was full of Rosemont articles. These included articles discussing the need to fix the 1872 mining law and the impacts the mine would have on our water resources as well as several clever political cartoons, all expressing concern about the mine. Also, there were dozens of letters to the editor with headlines such as “Rosemont devastation is a sacrilege,” “Protect natural world, oppose Rosemont,” and “Jobs temporary, damage permanent.” Also, a few proclaimed the supposed positive side of Rosemont, for example “Rosemont jobs will bring a boost.”
In late March 2019 we (all the organizations and tribes mentioned above) filed another lawsuit to try to overturn the Army Corps’ issuance of the 404 permit. So, two lawsuits had now been filed with the goal of stopping the mine and – WE WAITED, knowing that Hudbay could begin mining activities any day. In fact, in June 2019 Hudbay began clearing all the vegetation from a 30-foot-wide swath along Santa Rita Road where they had intended to put their water pipe. The intent was for the pipe to go from the west side of the Santa Ritas, over the ridgeline, and to the east side of the mountain range. Fortunately, they only cleared about 4 ½ miles when, on July 31, Judge James Soto ruled that the mine could not proceed.
There have been a few minor perturbations since then, but the primary question now is whether Hudbay will appeal Judge Soto’s decision. They have until the end of December 2019 to file an appeal. So, WE ARE WAITING AGAIN.
But, for the moment, at least, the wind is at our back. It will still take some time – may be quite a bit of time — but we feel confident that eventually, we will prevail and this arduous battle will be over. There will be NO MINE. The beauty, biodiversity and cultural resources of the Santa Ritas will be preserved. In the bigger picture, the decision we got from Judge Soto has been widely reported both nationally and internationally. In addition, Congressman Grijalva is moving forward with a long-needed reexamination of the 1872 mining law, which allows foreign mining of American resources on public land with no royalties paid to the United States.
In the meantime, for as long as it takes, we promise to keep up the fight. Your fully deductible contribution will enable us to do that. On behalf of the Board of Directors and Advisory Board of Save the Scenic Santa Ritas, I once again thank you for your support in this epic battle.
Sincerely, Gayle Hartmann, President