Rosemont copper

Rosemont and the Cuckoo scam

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) is proposing to list the “western distinct population segment” of the Yellow-billed Cuckoo as a threatened species as a result of a “sue and settle” agreement with the Center for Biological Diversity over 757 species nationwide.

Yellow-billed-cuckooAccording to a story in the Arizona Daily Star, about 20 cuckoos inhabit Pima County’s Cienega Creek Natural Preserve downstream from the proposed Rosemont copper mine. Radical environmentalists are making an issue of this in their failing attempts to stop the mine.  The cuckoo also is being used as an excuse to stir up trouble along the San Pedro River near Sierra Vista (see story here).

Rosemont, anticipating the proposed listing, has already spelled out detailed mitigation plans for the cuckoo in its Environmental Impact Statement to the Forest Service.

In my opinion the proposed listing of the cuckoo is not justified by science; it is purely politics.

Arizona and other western states are at the fringe of the cuckoo’s range. The Yellow-billed Cuckoo is common in the southeastern U.S.  See the range map from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology below:

Yellow-billed-cuckoo-range-mapThe Yellow-billed Cuckoo is a neotropical migrant that lives in riparian woodlands.  It is, in fact, declining in the west, perhaps because of drought.  However, whether or not these fringe populations survive will have no impact on the overall species survival.  Species’ occurrence within fringe areas are always ephemeral and subject to change.

The proposed listing itself is not the result of a scientific study, but is the result of litigation abuse by environmentalists and a backroom deal with FWS.  A deal such as this shows why the Endangered Species Act should be repealed and replaced. with a program that respects property rights and provides a positive incentive for conservation.

I found it amusing that in the listing proposal announcement, FWS says the listing proposal “is based on the best scientific data available,”  but the same announcement implores the public to submit more information because, “We need all of the best available scientific information to help us make a final decision that most effectively protects the species.”  By the way, FWS has been studying the cuckoo since at least 2001.

See also:

Regulating behind closed doors, the cozy relationship between the Feds and environmental groups

Repeal the Endangered Species Act

Rosemont Copper: An Argument for Reforming the Process

This post is a guest opinion by David F. Briggs.  David F. Briggs is a resident of Pima county and a geologist, who has intermittently worked on the Rosemont Copper project since 2006.  He can be contacted at geomineinfo@aol.com.

Rosemont Copper:  An Argument for Reforming the Process

Used to Permit Mining Projects

 by David F. Briggs

Last week two events made the news, whose ultimate outcome will potentially impact the citizens of southeastern Arizona.  One was disappointing, while the other offered hope.  On Monday, September 16, the Coronado National Forest announced its decision to delay the controversial Rosemont Copper project for another six months.  Although this was disappointing to Rosemont Copper’s supporters and Arizonans, who will benefit from this important project, there appears to be light at the end of tunnel.  Under new Forest Service regulations (36 CFR 218), once the Draft Record of Decision is released with the Final Environment Impact Statement in November, the Forest Service is required under law to issue a final decision in 120 days.  This procedural change also makes it less likely for the courts to issue an injunction as a result of litigation that will undoubtedly follow any decision that allows this project to move forward.

The other news event occurred on Wednesday, September 18, when the U. S. House of Representatives passed the National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act of 2013 (H. R. 761). This bill is designed to restore our ability to supply the minerals we require for our economic and national security needs while maintaining the protections provided under our nation’s environmental laws.  In light of the numerous delays experienced by the Rosemont Copper project over the last six years, this is very encouraging news, because it establishes a statutory limit of thirty months on the period required to permit a mining project under the National Environmental Policy Act.  It also places time limits on filing civil suits that challenge the actions by federal agencies, eliminates reimbursement of legal expenses under the Equal Access to Justice Act and encourages the courts to deal with these cases in a expeditious manner.

The necessity to modify the current permitting process becomes apparent when one considers the impact repeated delays have had on our ability to supply the minerals we require to ensure our national security and to maintain and improve our infrastructure and standard of living.  Permitting mining projects has become so cumbersome, it threatens our ability to attract the investment capital required to find and develop the natural resources required to fulfill the needs of present and future generations of Americans.

Unnecessary costs resulting from our open-ended permitting process  significantly reduce the U. S. mining industry’s ability to compete in the international marketplace.  It also wastes valuable resources, which could be better used to create productive employment opportunities for America’s workers.

Today, less than half of the minerals used by the U. S. manufacturing sector are derived from domestic sources.  This dependence on foreign sources for minerals has left our national security needs vulnerable to decisions made by foreign governments.  It has also contributed to our nation’s large trade deficits, needlessly sending billions of dollars abroad, which could have been invested in our economic future.

As this legislation moves through the U. S. Senate over the coming months, I urge our elected representatives to put aside partisan differences and take a serious look at this bill’s potential to reduce our nation’s reliance on foreign sources for the minerals we use, revitalize our domestic minerals supply chain and create incentives for investment and employment opportunities throughout the natural resource and manufacturing sectors of our nation’s economy.

Copyrighted by David F. Briggs. Reprint is permitted provided the credit of authorship is provided and linked back to the source.

Rosemont’s Conservation Lands Program

In addition to mine development, Rosemont Copper has a land conservation program which currently includes five sites in southern Arizona, see map below. Rosemont says the program will “permanently conserve 4,500 acres of open space, and allocate more than 550 million gallons per year of private surface water rights to the public.”

Rosemont-conservation-lands

The following short descriptions are taken from Rosemont’s brochure on the program.  For that brochure and more details on each  property go to: http://rosemontcopper.com/conservation.html .

1. Fullerton Ranch:

Adjacent to existing county conservation land, acquisition of this property maintains open land for hiking, bird watching, hunting, camping, mountain biking and off-roading. While over-grazed today, sustainable grazing to support local ranching can be supported on the property. The property provides a valuable habitat for the Desert Box Tortoise and other species. Without conservation, the property would be subject to fragmentation and development.

2. Helvetia Ranch North:

The Helvetia Ranch North property connects BLM Santa Rita Experimental Range land to the Coronado National Forest. Its conservation ensures an intact cultural and natural landscape, completes wildlife corridor connections, and maintains public access to the Santa Rita Mountains. The Ranch also provides habitat for vulnerable and endangered species like the Pima Pineapple Cactus, the Mexican Long-Tongued Bat, and the Lesser Long-Nosed Bat.

3. Sonoita Creek Ranch:

Located at the headwaters of the Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve, the Sonoita Creek Ranch property plays an essential role in the recharging of the Town of Patagonia’s aquifer. Prior to its purchase by Rosemont, Sonoita Creek was poised for residential development. Now Sonoita Creek Ranch and its 588 acre-feet per year surface water right, fed by a perennial spring, will be conserved.

4. Pantano Dam:

Rosemont, working with the state and local agencies, hopes to be successful negotiating projects that will use existing private water rights for the enhancement of an important stream habitat in the Pantano Wash, Davidson Canyon, Lower and Upper Cienega Creek and Empire Gulch. These enhancement projects, both downstream and upstream, would create a habitat for endangered species with a priority water right that Rosemont has secured.

5. Davidson Canyon Ranches:

Each of these is a historic homestead, chosen by the homesteader because of a flowing spring. Conservation of these sites ensures the lands will be kept open rather than developed, preserving public views, numerous archeological sites, and the reach of the seasonal Davidson Canyon Wash that a downstream of which has been designated as an Outstanding Arizona Water.

See also:

The value of mining in Arizona

Distinguishing Fact from Fiction about Rosemont

Future of Rosemont Mine Very Certain

Rosemont answers Cyanide Beach

Pima County versus Rosemont

Rosemont’s dry-stacked tailings will be greener than those near Green Valley

Jaguars versus the Rosemont mine