Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Monday, April 23, 2012

Arizona UPRISING -- Tucson Electric and Rosemont Copper won't take no for an answer? UPDATED 3:15pm MST 4-24-12

On Wednesday, the Arizona Corporation Commission will consider, during a staff open meeting, whether to reverse a decision made on March 21 (or at least whether to grant a request to rehear the matter) regarding Tucson Electric Power's application to build a transmission line to the proposed Rosemont Copper mining site south of Tucson.

After a long day of testimony last month, Republican Commissioner Bob Stump surprised observers and voted with the Democratic Commissioners Sandra Kennedy and Paul Newman against the application. Widely viewed as a victory for environmental sanity at the time, the official document filed on the vote, a 16-page decision, shows that conditional approval was granted but stayed (put on hold).

One of the key issues during the hearing was the apparently improper disqualification of an intervenor. Other potential issues include the fact that Commissioner Stump is up for re-election this year and he may have supporters in Tucson that do not support development of Rosemont Copper.

Regardless of the reasons for Stump's vote in March, the written language in the decision leaves the situation open for reconsideration. So, as far as Gary Pierce and (former ALEC bigwig) Brenda Burns are concerned, environmental considerations be damned. Rosemont and Tucson Electric appear to have been given new life at the ACC.

Contact ACC chairman Gary Pierce at or 602-542-3933 to let him know what you think.

I will continue to look for more information on this situation and expect to update this blog post.

UPDATE 3:15pm 4-24-12

First update is that I corrected the link above for the 16-page decision (Number 73074) dated March 21, 2012 in the line siting case for the TEP/Rosemont Mine.

Also, I was able to learn that generally, the Arizona Corporation Commission does grant all line siting requests after due diligence by the line siting committee. However, the ACC seems to be legally (and politically) vulnerable as a result of the siting committee chair having disqualified Intervenor Elizabeth Webb.

Several documents have subsequently been submitted and included in the docket for this case, including an order from an administrative law judge to set a conference on timing issues, a motion from Intervenor Marshall Magruder, responses from TEP and Rosemont Copper and correspondence (a letter from an attorney) Lawrence V Robinson Jr. on behalf of interest group Scenic Santa Ritas.

Mr. Robinson's letter seems to highlight the vulnerability that arose as a result of Webb's disqualification.

“The Commission shall expeditiously conduct a proceeding pursuant to A.R.S.
40-252 in order to reopen the matter and to entertain requests for intervention,
including requests from prospective interveners and requests from any other party
who may desire to intervene.” [Decision No. 73074 at page 2, lines 23-26]
[emphasis added]

In that regard, Scenic Santa Ritas believes that the conduct of the evidentiary hearing “in
the next month or so” would not provide the aforementioned “prospective intervenors” and “any other party” with adequate time to request intervention, and, if intervention is granted, prepare an evidentiary case for presentation. Moreover, there has been no credible demonstration of a need to reach a decision by Judge Rodda or the Siting Committee (as the case may be) by June 1,2012 as Rosemont has requested. Siting Case No. 164 was needlessly hurried to a decision in November and December of 2011. That mistake should not be repeated at the Commission level.
It seems this has been ongoing for the last month and ACC chair Pierce has been trying to rectify the problem with exclusion of evidence that Webb wanted to present. We'll see how it goes tomorrow and report back with a new post to this blog then.

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