IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: E&E News: Arizona Lawmakers Blast Historic Designation for Proposed Mine

Feb 2, 2016 Issues: Government Oversight and Regulatory Reform, Energy, Public Lands and Water, Land Exchange

For Immediate Release

Date: February 2, 2016

Contact: Steven D. Smith


WASHINGTON D.C. - E&E News reported early on Tuesday morning about a deceptive effort underway by anti-mining groups to negatively impact the bipartisan Southeast Arizona Land Exchange, signed into law in December 2014, by designating the land acquired in this exchange as a National Historic place. This government land grab could further limit public access and undermine a copper project that is projected to create nearly 3,700 jobs and generate $60 billion for Arizona’s economy. 

Congressman Gosar and Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ) sent a letter yesterday to the Director of the National Park Service (NPS) and the Keeper of National Register of Historic Places requesting NPS formally withdraw the nomination of this land from consideration for listing as a Historic Place. That letter can be found HERE

Ariz. Lawmakers Blast Historic Designation for Proposed Mine
E&E News
Dylan Brown

Reps. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) and Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Ariz.) yesterday demanded that the National Park Service pull a national historic site nomination for land they say is the proposed site of the controversial Resolution Copper mine.

A Jan. 21 Federal Register notice seeks comment on the proposed listing of the Chi'chil Bildagoteel Historic District as an addition to the National Register of Historic Places.

Chi'chil Bildagoteel is what the San Carlos Apache call Oak Flat, the proposed site of Rio Tinto PLC copper mine in the Tonto National Forest.

The global mining giant and Arizona lawmakers, including Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Reps. Gosar and Kirkpatrick, have spent years battling the Apache and conservation groups over an area the tribe says is sacred.

After years of lobbying, mine advocates attached a rider to the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act authorizing a land swamp clearing the way for the mine.

However, opposition remains, with the Apache rallying on Capitol Hill last year and Arizona Rep. Raúl Grijalva, top Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee, authoring legislation to repeal the swap (E&E Daily, June 14).

Gosar and Kirkpatrick objected to a nearly identical Federal Register notice last June drafted by Tonto National Forest officials and San Carlos Apache leaders.

The only change in the new notice is the name of the city in Pinal County, Ariz. -- Superior versus Kearney, misspelled in the notice as "Kearny."

Both times, the formal address is listed as "restricted," the only such address on the list.

Gosar and Kirkpatrick said it appears to be a deceptive and illegal effort by mine opponents to block a "bipartisan bill that is estimated to create approximately 3,700 new jobs."

"Given the lack of detail in the filing, it is virtually impossible for our constituents who may be affected to participate in the public comment process," the lawmakers wrote.

Roger Featherstone of the Arizona Mining Reform Coalition sharply rebutted the claims, arguing that the restricted address is likely to protect the sacred site from desecration.

"From a public standpoint, I really don't understand why they are politicizing what is a noncontroversial, merit-based determination," he said.

With the comment period set to expire Friday after 11 days, Gosar and Kirkpatrick requested a 60-day extension to provide more time for comments if the nomination is not withdrawn.

The lawmakers also sent NPS an op-ed written by former San Carlos tribe historian Dale Miles, arguing that Oak Flat isn't sacred..."