County seeks new roadblock on Rosemont
Inside Tucson Business
December 22, 2011
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In their ongoing battle over development of the Rosemont Copper mine, Pima County officials are asking U.S. Forest Service officials to make sure the cash bond posted by the mining company is high enough to pay for cleanup of groundwater pollution and other environmental issues.
Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry asked Coronado National Forest Supervisor Jim Upchurch "to address significant flaws in the current (draft environmental impact statement) DEIS and provide the public and interested parties with additional time to comment."
In an email response to the Green Valley News, Upchurch said, "We stand behind the information that we have provided in the DEIS ... during the comment period as we hear from the public and our cooperators we are evaluating the need for any additional analysis to ensure that the effects are clearly and accurately described in the final EIS ... Our job is to ensure that the selected alternative meets the required federal laws and regulations that are applicable to this project."
Upchurch has said publicly the amount of the bond will be set in a private negotiation between the Forest Service and Rosemont and that bond conditions are not subject to public hearings.
While Pima County has firmly opposed opening the mine in the Santa Rita Mountains, Huckelberry's letter takes the tack of the mine getting approved and questions the mitigation of its impact.
The letter questions the mathematical model used to predict water pollution in the DEIS, citing a study of 25 hard-rock mines by the environmental group Earthworks which found a majority of the mines caused contamination despite using an EIS model similar to the one being used for Rosemont that predicted no water pollution.
Rosemont Copper Company President and CEO Rod Pace said, "The Forest Service has done an extremely thorough job developing and analyzing water models and associated effects, the county has been involved as a cooperating agency throughout the process for four years. The county's call for a supplemental EIS is simply out of order and clearly a delay tactic."
Mine opponents have said they intend to challenge the mine's approval in court, hoping the delays will discourage investors.