PETITION TO OPPOSE THE SOUTHEAST LAND EXCHANGE AND CONSERVATION ACT
For nine years, Resolution Copper Mining, LLC – a subsidiary of foreign mining giants Rio Tinto (United Kingdom), which is 14% owned by China, and BHP Billiton, Ltd. (Australia) – has sought to introduce a bill in the U.S. Congress, now known as H.R. 687, the “Southeast Land Exchange and Conservation Act,” that would convey 2,422 acres of the Tonto National Forest for a massive block cave copper mine. This is a deal that Arizona cannot afford, despite its unsupported promise of jobs.
- The bill circumvents federal law. H.R. 687 undermines the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which requires an analysis of potential impacts, including providing public notice and an opportunity to comment, before federal actions are taken. The bill fails to require an environmental review, including consideration of mitigation measures of the mining project before the land exchange is completed. Once the lands are transferred to Resolution Copper, NEPA review will not have any real impact because the land would already be in private ownership. Because the bill is a mandatory transfer, the Secretary of Agriculture has no discretionary authority to determine under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) or other laws whether the exchange is a bad deal for the American taxpayer, the local residents, and the local economy, which would be the case if an administrative transfer were required.
- The proposed mine will consume 20,000 acre feet of water per year, totaling some 600,000 acre feet over its life span, which will deplete the region’s water supply and leave local towns and homes without a secure source of water.
- The mine will require fewer jobs than promised because, at 7,000 feet below ground, it will rely largely on robots.
- Subsidence caused by the mine will pull down an area two miles in circumference, leaving a crater visible from outer space. A beautiful nature preserve known as Oak Flat, visited by countless tourists and a sacred site of profound significance to Native American tribes, will be destroyed.
For these reasons, we, the undersigned, oppose H.R. 687, and ask Congress and the President of the United States to stop this bill.
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