For Immediate Release:
Issues in Underlying Litigation Remain Unresolved
Gayle Hartmann, SSSR, (520) 325-6974
Randy Serraglio, Center for Biological Diversity, (520) 784-1504
David Steele, FICO, (520) 321-1111 (office), (520)907-2620 (cell)
TUCSON, Ariz. — In a written order today, Federal District Court Judge Frank R. Zapata denied a preliminary injunction motion filed by plaintiffs in Rosemont-related litigation. This lawsuit asserts that the Forest Service illegally allowed Rosemont Copper and its representatives to participate in closed-door cooperating agency meetings on the preparation of the draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for this project.
While the judge ruled against the plaintiffs’ motion, the issues identified in the underlying lawsuit remain unresolved and will be addressed. To this point, Judge Zapata said, “[I]n reviewing the pertinent statutory, regulatory and case law authority, the Court does find, at best, that the USFS was less than prudent in inviting Rosemont and its consultants as the primary and only regularly invited non-governmental agency and that such actions, at a minimum, presents an appearance of impropriety on the part of the USFS as well as Rosemont.”
A business and conservation coalition comprised of Save the Scenic Santa Ritas, the Center for Biological Diversity and Farmers Investment Co. filed a lawsuit in February against the U.S. Forest Service, asserting that the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) was violated. FACA requires that committees established by federal agencies be open to public membership and participation. Evidence presented to the court found that the Coronado National Forest allowed representatives of Rosemont Copper Co. to actively participate in closed-door meetings the Forest Service has held since early 2009 with other government agencies that excluded members of the public.
“While we are disappointed in the ruling, we still believe fairness is the issue, and the public trust was violated. We will continue to work to bring the public into this process.”
Gayle Hartmann, Save the Scenic Santa Ritas
“Today’s ruling only addresses the preliminary injunction. The Rosemont process has been flawed from the start. We are going to continue fighting to ensure that the public’s voice is heard and ALL of the impacts of this complex proposal are thoroughly and realistically analyzed. From the start, Rosemont Copper and the Forest Service are rushing this project at the expense of the public interests.”
Randy Serraglio, Center for Biological Diversity
“While we are somewhat disappointed that the Judge did not grant the Preliminary Injunction, we believe that the underlying issues in it remains unresolved – the Forest Service’s process to prepare the draft Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed Rosemont Copper Mine is tainted as a result of Rosemont’s illegal participation in the cooperating agency meetings. Later we will have the opportunity to present in court facts that clearly show that Rosemont illegally participated in the Forest Service’s cooperating agency meetings to the detriment of the public’s interest. The purpose of FACA is to ensure that the sun shines on important federal agency decisions about public resources.
Nan Stockholm Walden, Farmers Investment Co.
The Rosemont area of the Santa Rita Mountains is home to a rich diversity of plants and animals, including several species that are imperiled and one that is found nowhere else. It is an important wildlife corridor connecting the Sky Island mountain ranges of southern Arizona. Many cherish this area for its wide array of recreational opportunities; a massive open-pit copper mine such as the one proposed by Rosemont Copper would destroy the permanent value of this public land in exchange for the short-term profit of a few.
Save the Scenic Santa Rita (SSSR) is a volunteer-based, nonprofit organization based in Tucson, Arizona. It was established in 1996 to protect the scenic, aesthetic, recreational and wildlife values of the Santa Rita Mountains through education and outreach.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 320,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.
Farmers Investment Co. (FICO) is a family-owned farm that grows pecans on approximately 4500 acres it owns in the Upper Santa Cruz River Valley near Sahuarita, Arizona.