The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Randy Serraglio, Center for Biological Diversity, (520) 784-1504
Lisa Froelich, Save the Scenic Santa Ritas, (520) 445-6615
Jenny Neeley, Sky Island Alliance, (520) 624-7080 x 27

Arizona Corporation Commission Delays Power Line for Rosemont Mine

No Construction Until Environmental Protection Permits Are Approved


In a major victory for opponents of the proposed Rosemont Copper Mine, the Arizona Corporation Commission has voted to delay construction of a high-voltage power line until the Rosemont Copper Company obtains major environmental permits for the proposed copper mine south of Tucson.

"This decision recognizes the commission's duty to minimize and mitigate the environmental impacts of the massive copper mine before allowing construction of the power line," says Gayle Hartmann, president of Save the Scenic Santa Ritas, a Tucson-based citizen's group opposed to the mine.

The five-member commission voted unanimously to accept language offered by Republican Commissioner Brenda Burns that added key stipulations to the commission's decision to approve construction of the power line.

*Rosemont will not commence construction of the power line until five key permits necessary to begin construction and operation of the copper mine have been obtained.

*Rosemont will pay for all construction, operation and maintenance costs of the power line that will be owned by Tucson Electric Power Company.

*If there is any reason later to remove the power line, Rosemont will pay all costs.

The transmission line, which would be built for the sole benefit of Rosemont Copper, is planned for a 12-mile mile corridor that bisects the nation's oldest grazing research area in the Santa Rita Experimental Range, up the western slope of the Santa Rita Mountains and over its crest to the mine site on the eastern face of the Santa Ritas.

The commission's decision requires Rosemont to obtain four environmental permits and one state right-of-way permit prior to beginning construction of power lines for the mine on the Coronado National Forest.

These include:

*A "record of decision" from the Coronado National Forest that approves Rosemont's Mine Plan of Operations;

*A Clean Water Act Section 404 permit issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers concerning Rosemont's proposal to dump billions of tons of toxic mine waste in canyons, valleys and streams;

*Arizona Department of Environmental Quality approval of the U.S. Amy Corps of Engineers' Clean Water Act Section 404 permit to ensure it meets Arizona surface water quality standards; and

*An air-quality protection permit that has already been denied by Pima County, which Rosemont is now seeking from the state.

In addition, the commission is requiring Rosemont to obtain a state Land Department right-of-way allowing construction of the power line and an accompanying water line across the Santa Rita Experimental Range.

The massive open-pit mine proposed by Rosemont Copper is opposed by a diverse coalition of private citizens, ranchers, businesses and environmental groups. During the commission's line-siting process, Save the Scenic Santa Ritas, the Tucson Audubon Society, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Sky Island Alliance sought and were granted status as parties to these proceedings.

At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature — to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters and climate that species need to survive.

(520) 623-5252