Today, U.S. Congressman Paul A. Gosar, D.D.S. (AZ-04) released a statement following a rally on the West lawn of the U.S. Capitol building in opposition to a bipartisan land exchange which paves the way for the development of the largest copper mine in North America:
“It’s unfortunate that environmental extremist groups and anti-mining opponents, including the Center for Biological Diversity, WildEarth Guardians, Greenpeace and a DC lobbyist from the Clinton Administration, have waged a misinformation campaign to try and repeal a bipartisan jobs bill that will generate $60 billion for our economy and create nearly 4,000 new jobs in an economically depressed area. Shamelessly, Bill Snape at the Center for Biological Diversity is even listed as the contact for interviews on today’s rally.
“While not short on hyperbole, the repeal effort suffers from a severe lack of facts and common sense. In reality, this land exchange does not take any reservation lands, ensures greater protection for actual sacred tribal lands, will result in environmental protections for 5,000 acres of environmentally sensitive land, requires full environmental compliance before the exchange can be completed and even maintains tribal access to Oak Flat (a small, poorly-maintained campground previously on forest service land 20 miles from the nearest tribe’s reservation).
“Anti-mining opponents have sunk to a new low by using members of the Apache Tribe to further their misguided effort, in total disregard to the high levels of poverty and unemployment on the reservation. Despite today’s rally, a majority of members of the nearby San Carlos Apache Tribe actually supported the bipartisan land exchange. Former San Carlos Apache Tribe Chairman Harrison Talgo said it best when testifying in strong support of the Southeast Arizona Land Exchange and Conservation Act stating, ‘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.’”
Congressman Gosar has created a page on his official website dedicated to providing information on his sponsored legislation that was signed into law last December, the Southeast Arizona Land Exchange and Conservation Act. It can be viewed HERE.
The sponsor of the repeal bill was recently forced to apologize to a tribe in writing for claiming in the text of his legislation that the land exchange transferred the tribe’s sacred land, when in fact it did not.
The Southeast Arizona Land Exchange and Conservation Act would facilitate the development of an underground copper mine that will create thousands of American jobs, reduce our dependence on foreign sources of energy and minerals, and generate billions of dollars of revenue for federal and state treasuries. The legislation consolidates a checker-board of lands in Arizona to ensure maximum mineral production as well as conservation by exchanging approximately 2,400 acres of Forest Service land for 5,000 acres of privately held, environmentally sensitive land. The lands the federal government acquires in the exchange are highly-coveted recreational and conservation areas.
With these facts in mind, it’s easy to see why Republicans and Democrats alike strongly supported the Southeast Arizona Land Exchange and Conservation Act. In fact, in the 112th Congress the legislation passed the House as a stand-alone bill with a bipartisan vote of 235-186. In the 113th Congress, the exchange was included in H.R. 3979 which passed the House 300-119 and the Senate 89-11.
A scientific poll along with testimony before Congress from the former tribal chairman confirmed that the majority of the San Carlos Tribe supported the land exchange and wants the jobs that will be created by this law.
The land exchange is consistent with important tribal cultural protection laws including the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, Archeological Resources Protection Act and the American Indian Religious Freedom Act. Even the Obama Administration agrees that this land exchange would not negatively impact sacred land. After conducting a comprehensive study in 2010, the administration released a Finding of No Significant Impact stating, “The selected action will not cause loss or destruction of significant scientific, cultural or historical resources.”