Advocacy group Save the Scenic Santa Ritas has been fighting the seemingly inevitable approval of permits allowing development of the Rosemont Copper Mining project for a few years now.
“The proposed Rosemont Mine will always be a bad project no matter who owns it,” said SSSR president Gayle Hartmann. “The massive open pit mine threatens southern Arizona’s drinking water, air quality, wildlife and mountains. We will continue to oppose this terrible proposal until it is defeated.”
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has stated that the massive open-pit mine that would destroy more than 3,000 acres of Coronado National Forest would result in ‘substantial and unacceptable impact’ to water supplies of ‘national importance’ and that proposed mitigation measures are ‘scientifically flawed’ and ‘grossly inadequate.’SSSR announced yesterday that next Monday, January 5, its will have a hearing on its lawsuit filed to challenge the air quality permit issued by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality.
Coalition Goes to Court Protect Southern Arizona’s Air Quality
Lawsuit Challenges “Illegal” State Approval of Rosemont Copper’s air pollution permit
(TUCSON, Ariz.) A lawsuit challenging the state’s approval of an air pollution permit for the proposed Rosemont copper mine on the Coronado National Forest southeast of Tucson will get a hearing before a Maricopa County Superior Court Judge on Monday Jan. 5 in Phoenix.
Save the Scenic Santa Ritas (SSSR) filed this suit last June alleging the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) illegally approved the permit because Rosemont manipulated data to hide potential air pollution violations at the proposed mine. SSSR is a coalition of southern Arizona small businesses, farmers, ranchers and conservationists.
SSSR provided expert testimony during administrative hearings prior to filing the lawsuit showing that air pollution from the Rosemont mine would likely cause Pima County to violate those standards. If that were to happen, new restrictions could be imposed on air pollution sources in the County, with some companies being required to install expensive pollution controls.
The air quality permit lawsuit is just one of several legal and regulatory challenges still facing Toronto-based Hudbay Minerals, Inc. as it seeks approval to build the massive open-pit mine. For example, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has notified Rosemont that its plan to mitigate the mine’s unavoidable destruction of critical regional water resources is insufficient, thus jeopardizing the Corps’ approval of the Section 404 Clean Water Act permit. The mine cannot be built without this permit.
In addition, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Forest Service have initiated a new round of formal Endangered Species Act consultation after field cameras photographed an endangered ocelot near the proposed mine site. The discussions also include updated information regarding the mine’s impact on protected springs and streams and adverse impacts to other endangered species.
What: Oral Argument
When: 10:30 a.m., Jan. 5, 2015
Where: Maricopa County Superior Court, Courtroom 504, 201 West Jefferson, Phoenix,
Save the Scenic Santa Ritas is a non-profit, community organization working to protect the Santa Rita and Patagonia Mountains from environmental degradation caused by mining and mineral exploration activities.
Two years ago, award winning investigative journalist John Dougherty produced and narrated a short documentary film, Cyanide Beach, about the project and the dubious interests that initiated the it. Dougherty's documentary focused on Rosemont's then owner Augusta Resource Corp.
In the summer of 2014 Augusta was bought out by Toronto-based Hudbay Minerals, which has a hefty share of controversy of its own.
ADEQ approved an Air Quality Permit for the Rosemont project despite overwhelming evidence that the mine would have severe impact on air and water quality in the region. From the US Forest Service Environmental Impact Statement (page x):
Changes in air quality that could potentially occur from the mine operation were identified as a significant issue. Construction, mining, and reclamation activities at the mine and along transportation and utility corridors would increase dust, airborne chemicals, and transportation related (mobile) emissions in the affected area. The Clean Air Act and other laws, regulations, policies, and plans set thresholds for air quality, including Class I airsheds.
The emission of greenhouse gases has been implicated in global climate change, and the policy of the Federal Government is to reduce these emissions when possible (Executive Order 13514). Greenhouse gases are those in the atmosphere that retain heat. They are natural and keep the earth from becoming too cold. The specific gases known as greenhouse gases are carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), and fluorocarbons. CH4, N2O, and fluorinated gases would be emitted by the project; however, the anticipated level of emissions of these gases is much smaller than the level of CO2 emissions associated with the project.ADEQ director Henry Darwin serves at the pleasure of the Arizona governor. That means, in the event he or his agency make a decision that Jan Brewer doesn't like, she fires him, no questions asked.
With Scrooge McDucey moving in (and Brewer moving out) on the same day as the court hearing, the agency director may or may not change. You can be assured, however, that the agency will NOT serve to protect the environment and air quality for Arizona residents. This is why it was necessary, in order to look out for the interests of the people who live and work in southern Arizona to take ADEQ to court. Court action is required in order to rescind its approval of the permit.
Today it is a case of the grasshopper pitted against the elephant. But tomorrow the elephant will have its guts ripped out. Le Loi, Vietnamese emperor, 15th Century.