The Southeast Arizona Land Exchange and Conservation Act facilitates the development of an underground copper mine that will create new American jobs, will reduce our dependence on foreign sources of energy and minerals, and will generate significant revenues for federal and state treasuries. Once the operation is running, this mine will provide 25% of the United States’ copper supply and will be the largest copper mine in North America. The Southeast Arizona Land Exchange and Conservation Act will create 4,000 new jobs and will generate $60 billion for Arizona’s economy over the life of the mine. This legislation is not only a jobs bill; it's a conservation bill. The lands the federal government acquires in the exchange are highly-coveted recreational and conservation areas.
For those not familiar with land exchanges—which are common practice in the West—the bill allows for a consolidation of a checker-board of lands to ensure maximum mineral production. The bill authorizes and facilitates the exchange of land between Resolution Copper, the U.S. Forest Service, and the Bureau of Land Management. Federal legislation is required because the exchange involves third parties. The exchange will bring into federal stewardship 5,344 acres of high priority conservation land in exchange for 2,422 acres of national forest system land containing one of the largest undeveloped copper resources in the world. Resolution Copper already has unpatented mining claims that cover 75 % of the parcel.
Click HERE to view Rep. Gosar's PowerPoint presentation from the Superior Town Hall on September 20, 2013, which provides an extensive overview of this legislation.
Myth vs. Fact on the Resolution Copper Land Exchange Bill
Myth: Oak Flat is a “sacred site” and contains Indian burial grounds.
Fact: The land (Oak Flat parcel) that would be mined is a small, poorly-maintained campground that was withdrawn for mining in the 1950’s by a land order issued during the Eisenhower Administration. The US Forest Service does not register the Oak Flat campground as a “sacred site.” The majestic Apache Leap Cliffs—which are celebrated by Native American lore— are NOT included in the mine project. Tribal leaders should read the NEW bipartisan legislative language in the lands package. The bill bans mining from impacting the Apache Leap and designates a new Forest Service Special Management Area to ensure its protection. All cultural protection laws are required.
Myth: Tribes will not be able to access the Oak Flat campground site.
Fact: Tribal leaders should read the NEW bill bipartisan language. Tribes will be able to access the campground for cultural needs for many years, even after the land exchange is complete. And before the land exchange occurs, the federal government is required to consult with tribes to find a way to mitigate tribal concerns.
Myth: There is no NEPA EIS on the mine until after the land exchange has already happened.
Fact: The lands package was developed with a NEW bipartisan agreement to require FULL NEPA on the mine BEFORE the land exchange is complete. Every interested and impacted party will have multiple opportunities during the NEPA process to engage in meaningful dialogue and government-to-government consultation PRIOR to title transfer. One of the most vocal opponents of the bill, director of the Arizona Mining Reform Coalition Roger Featherstone, said in a news story on 12/4/14 “that a swap contingent on NEPA is the only way to help address concerns.” The updated version of the bill is now contingent on NEPA.
Myth: The land exchange circumvents the tribal cultural protection law
Fact: The land exchange is consistent with important tribal cultural protection laws including: Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, Archeological Resources Protection Act, and the American Indian Religious Freedom Act.
Myth: This bill was not vetted by Congress.
Fact: The NEW bill text was agreed to by the House Natural Resources Committee and the Senate ENR Committee and represents a bipartisan, bicameral compromise between the committees of jurisdiction. This compromise language was the subject of months of daily negotiations with Democrats & Republicans and was signed off by Senate Majority Leader Reid, Senate Energy Committee Chair Mary Landrieu, Senate Indian Affairs Committee Chairman Jon Tester, Senator Lisa Murkowski, House Natural Resources Chairman Doc Hastings, House Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Peter DeFazio, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer. The original bill received hearings in the House and the Senate, passed the House Committee on Natural Resources, and passed on the floor of the full House of Representatives in the 112th Congress. The bill received hearings and passed the House Committee on Natural Resources in the 113th Congress. The bill passed the full House of Representatives and full Senate as a provision included in H.R. 3979. H.R. 3979 has been sent to the president for signature.
Myth: The entire San Carlos Apache Tribe is opposed to the bill.
Fact: While some of the tribal counsel members and a DC lobbyist from the Clinton Administration are opposed to the bill because they fundamentally oppose mining, it is important to note that the population of the San Carlos Apache Tribe is not united in their opposition to the bill. A poll found that the majority of tribal members actually support the bill. In addition, former Tribal Chairman Harrison Talgo testified before the House Natural Resources Committee in SUPPORT of the bill. In his testimony, he stated: “The issue today is not about our reservation land, our sovereignty, our heritage, our self respect – these are not for sale. This is about putting our people – a lot of people – to work. I believe economic development should be our leadership’s top priority. Because many members of the San Carlos Apache Nation are dependent on the tribal government for food, utilities, and a limited number of available jobs, they often do not speak out against Council decisions in fear of losing those benefits. I am not afraid to speak out. I can assure you I do not stand alone as a member of the San Carlos Apache Nation in support of the Resolution Copper Mine and the jobs and prosperity it will create. I made personal phone calls to many people within my community of 2,000 tribal members and the majority of them responded in favor of this project.”
Status of the Legislation
U.S. House of Representatives
1. February 14, 2013: Reps. Paul Gosar, Ann Kirkpatrick, Matt Salmon, David Schweikert, and Trent Franks introduced H.R.687.
- H.R.687 is referred to the House Committee on Natural Resources.
2. March 21, 2013: House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources held a hearing in Washington, DC on H.R.687. READ MORE
3. May 15, 2013: House Natural Resources Committee advanced H.R.687 by a bipartisan vote to the full U.S. House of Representatives. READ MORE
4. July 22, 2013 – House Natural Resources Committee filed the committee report on H.R.687, making the bill eligible for consideration by the full U.S. House of Representatives. Click HERE to read the House Natural Resources Committee Report on the bill.
5. December 4, 2014 - The bill passed the full House of Representatives by a vote of 300-119 as part of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2014. READ MORE
1. February 14, 2013: Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake introduced S.339.
- Referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.
2. November 20, 2013: Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources hearing scheduled. Click HERE for details.
Letters of Support
This land exchange has strong bipartisan support across the State of Arizona, and below are letters from town, county, and state representatives in support of the bill (Click to view each).
Gila County Supervisor Michael Pastor (D) Letter of Support
Gila County Supervisor Tommie Martin (R) Letter of Support
Gila County Supervisor John Marcanti (D) Letter of Support
Gila County Board of Supervisors Resolution of Support
Pinal County Board of Supervisors Resolution of Support
Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Resolution of Support
Arizona State Government
Governor Jan Brewer (R) Letter of Support
Senate President Andy Biggs (R) Letter of Support
State Sen Barb McGuire (D) - Letter of Support
State Rep. Frank Pratt (R) Letter of Support
State Rep. TJ Shoppe (R) Proclamation of Support
State Rep. Brenda Barton (R) Letter of Support.
Bicameral Arizona Legislature Letter of Support
City of Mesa Letter of Support
City of Apache Junction Letter of Support
City of Globe Resolution of Support
Town of Payson Town Council Resolution of Support
Town of Kearny Resolution of Support
Town of Winkelman Resolution of Support
Town of Miami Resolution of Support
Mayor of the Town Payson Kenny J. Evans
Mayor of Globe Terence Wheeler Letter of Support
Superior City Councilman John Tameron Letter of Support
Former Superior Councilman and local business owner Lynn Heglie Letter of Support
Bullhead City Council Member Sam Medrano Letter of Support
Superior City Councilwoman Mila Besich-Lira
Former Chairman of the San Carlos Tribe Harrison Talgo
Arizona Game and Fish Commission Unanimous Vote of Support
Queen Creek Climbers Association Letter of Support
The Nature Conservency Letter
The Sonoran Institute
Arizona Business Community
Arizona Chamber of Commerce Letter of Support
Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce Letter of Support
Globe Miami Chamber of Commerce Letter of Support
Valley Partnership Letter of Support
East Valley Partnership Letter of Support
Greater Phoenix Economic Council Letter of Support
Greater Phoenix Leadership Letter of Support
Science Foundation Arizona Letter of Support
WestMarc Letter of Support
Copper Corridor Economic Development Coalition Letter of Support
Arizona Rock Products Association Letter of Support
Arizona Mining Association Letter of Support
Arizona Chapter Associated General Contractors Letter of Support
Sundt Construction - Letter of Support
Arizona Trucking Association Letter of Support
National Business Community
U.S. Chamber of Commerce
American Supply Association Letter of Support
American Clean Energy Resources Trust Letter of Support
Associated General Contractors of America Letter of Support
Northwest Mining Association
National Mining Association
National Association of Manufacturers
Other Letters of Support
Central Arizona Governments Regional Council Resolution of Support
Arizona Commerce Authority Letter of Support
Superior Unified School District Letter of Support
Town of Superior Little League Letter of Support
Gila County Democrat Party Resolution of Support
Cobre Valley Democrats Vote of Support
Phoenix Indian Center Letter of Support
Superior Copper Alliance
A full list of supporters and their full letters of support from similar legislation in the 112th Congress can be found here: http://gosar.house.gov/HR1904BusinessSupport
Video from the House Natural Resources Committee of the 113th Congress
The Southeast Arizona Land Exchange and Conservation Act (H.R. 687) was considered by the House Natural Resources Committee in late March. Below is Congressman Gosar's opening statement from the hearing.
A few members of the Superior Town Council inexplicably reversed their position on the copper mine. Representative Gosar questioned Ms. Soyla "Kiki" Peralta of the Superior Town Council at the hearing on his major jobs bill (see below).
The Importance of Copper
Copper is a critical metal used in the production of electronics, transportation, machinery, and renewable energy technologies, in addition to many other uses. Increased American copper mining will create thousands of jobs, and increase economic activity.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. demand for copper – used heavily in building construction, electric and electronic products, industrial machinery, and consumer goods – is on the rise: the U.S. now relies on foreign sources to provide 35 percent of the copper we consume. For a chart on the U.S. dependence on foreign critical minerals click HERE.
If passed, H.R.687 would allow for the production of more than one billion pounds of copper per year for at least 40 years. That would be enough to meet 25 percent or more of the annual U.S. demand for copper. By taking advantage of American sources of copper, we can prevent supply disruptions and increased dependence on foreign mineral imports.
This legislation shows we can protect our land and water and have a strong economy with good jobs. It conserves lands by protecting wildlife habitat, cultural and historic resources, the watershed, recreation sites, and aesthetic values. Furthermore, it enables an important mining project to go forward, which will generate economic and employment opportunities for state and local residents. Some of the high-value conservation lands include:
7B Ranch – Pinal County, Arizona – 3,073 acres within the San Pedro ecosystem designated by the Nature Conservancy as one of the “Last Great Places on Earth," referred to by the Forest Service as “priceless," and home to a free-flowing artesian spring-fed wetland populated by lowland leopard frogs, nesting birds, and native fish. In addition, this parcel is recognized by BirdLife International as an “Important Bird Area.” The conveyance of this land would be an important addition to the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area.
Appleton Ranch – Santa Cruz County, Arizona – 956 acres adjacent to a congressionally established conservation area that is home to 200 species of birds, 60 species of mammals, more than 90 species of native grass, and 480 native plant species. The acquisition of the ranch will eliminate non-federal lands that are intermingled with the conservation area, providing for a more economically-efficient management of the area.
Dripping Springs – Gila County, Arizona – 160 acres identified by national rock climbers as a significant rock climbing resource.
Tangle Creek – Yavapai County, Arizona - 148 acres recognized for having both pre-historic and historic value. It is believed that the property was important Native American farming land in the 1800s and features a variety of trees and shrubs which are believed to be over 100 years old.
7B Ranch Tangle Creek
(Former Tribal Chairman Harrison Talgo testifying in support of the land exchange)
It is important to note that the population of the San Carlos Apache Tribe is not united in their opposition to the bill. Last year, former Tribal Chairman Harrison Talgo testified before the House Natural Resources Committee in SUPPORT of the bill. In his testimony, he stated…
The issue today is not about our reservation land, our sovereignty, our heritage, our self respect – these are not for sale. This is about putting our people – a lot of people – to work. I believe economic development should be our leadership’s top priority.
Because many members of the San Carlos Apache Nation are dependent on the tribal government for food, utilities, and a limited number of available jobs, they often do not speak out against Council decisions in fear of losing those benefits. I am not afraid to speak out. I can assure you I do not stand alone as a member of the San Carlos Apache Nation in support of the Resolution Copper Mine and the jobs and prosperity it will create. I made personal phone calls to many people within my community of 2,000 tribal members and the majority of them responded in favor of this project.
What National Leaders Have Said
Holly Propst, Executive Director / General Counsel of the Western Business Roundtable
"This legislation – which involves a series of land exchanges – presents a “win-win” opportunity for federal land managers, Arizona’s economy, and the American taxpayers. The Roundtable views the legislation as an outstanding example of how, with a bit of ingenuity, the public and private sectors can work together to advance the goals of domestic minerals development and environmental conservation."
Paul A. Yost, Vice President, Energy and Resources Policy National Association of Manufacturers praised Congressman Gosar for his work on this important piece of legislation, saying: “This legislation will be the first step in helping the United States to meet more of our domestic demand for copper. In fact, the proposed mine would produce enough copper to meet about 25% of the current U.S. demand. In doing so, it will also create jobs and generate nearly $20 billion in federal, state, county, and local tax revenue.”
Hal Quinn President & CEO of the National Mining Association
“This land exchange is necessary to protect the global competitiveness of the U.S. mining industry and will provide high-paying jobs and improve a weakened economy.”
For additional information on this legislation please call the Congressman's Washington D.C. Office at (202) 225 2315