The Unavoidable Adverse Impacts of the proposed Rosemont Mine
Last week, the Forest Service released an “Administrative Draft of the Final Environmental Impact (FEIS)” for the proposed Rosemont Copper Mine. Notwithstanding Rosemont’s pronouncements that the approvals for the mine are a done deal, there is a long way to go. In fact, the Forest Service goes to great lengths to indicating that this draft is missing key analyses and permits required under the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act and the National Historic Preservation Act. Remarkably it requires website users to affirmatively acknowlege a disclaimer that this document is missing these essential elements.
The latest draft does contain, however, a list of more than a dozen “unavoidable adverse impacts” to southern Arizona’s economy and environment that would be caused if the Rosemont Mine were allowed to proceed. They include:
- Socioeconomics: “Loss of jobs in the local tourism and outdoor recreation industries cannot be avoided or fully mitigated. Likewise, loss in property values for property close to the mine would constitute an impact that cannot be avoided or fully mitigated.”
- Groundwater Quantity: “[R]eductions resulting from the hydraulic sink created by the pit lake would constitute a permanent adverse impact that cannot be avoided.
- Surface Water Quantity: “The amount of surface water that would flow into drainages immediately downstream of the mine site would be permanently decreased, constituting a permanent adverse impact that cannot be avoided or completely mitigated.”
- Seeps, Springs and Riparian Areas: “The loss of seeps and springs and associated riparian areas constitutes a permanent adverse impact that cannot be avoided or completely mitigated.”
- Public Health and Safety: “The mine and associated activities are expected to increase risks to public health and safety, primarily from increased traffic and associated risk of additional traffic accidents.”
- Dark Skies: “Residual impacts from mine lighting “would remain that are not avoidable and cannot be completely mitigated.”
- Recreation and Wilderness: “Recreation use of the area would be permanently adversely impacted.”
- Cultural Resources: “Cultural resources and historic properties and uses would be directly and permanently impacted. These impacts cannot be avoided within the areas of direct impact, nor can they be fully mitigated.”
But as further indication of how far this document has to go, the Unavoidable Impacts section of the document does not include any discussion of groundwater quality or surface water quality impacts.