Democratic News

Feb 09 2012

On Resolution Copper

“This morning, the Committee is considering legislation to provide for a land exchange between the Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management and the Resolution Copper Company to facilitate Resolution Copper’s development of a large copper mine in southeastern Arizona. 


“This is an issue that has been before the Committee for several years now, and one that has generated significant controversy.  During the previous Congress, Senator McCain – who was a member of our Committee – asked me to work with him and see if we could come up with an agreement on bill language to move this forward. 


“We spent several months in discussions at the staff level on that set of issues, including many meetings with Resolution Copper and other interested parties.  We did reach a compromise, which then resulted in the Committee reporting a bill unanimously. 


“Unfortunately that bill, like almost all other public land bills reported in the last Congress, was not considered on the Senate floor and was not enacted.


“Let me turn for a minute to the issues associated with the legislation.  The mine proponents contend that the mine will create significant economic benefits and will be located near an area with a history of mining; that would all appear true. 


“This is a complicated project, as I understand it, which will have a significant impact on the land which is currently part of a national forest.  There is considerable disagreement as to the effect that the development will have on cultural resources, and to sites that nearby Indian tribes consider sacred. 


“There are issues that obviously need to be reviewed and answered before the land exchange takes place, in my view. 


“A principal concern with the House bill – let me just flag so that witnesses can comment on it – is that it provides for a directed land exchange and does not allow for the analysis of potential impacts of the exchange prior to that exchange being conducted.  It does not give the Federal government any ability to modify the terms and conditions of the exchange to take into account any of the information raised or brought to light as part of those reviews.”


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