By Tony Davis
> > Arizona Daily Star
> Opponents of the proposed Rosemont Mine are asking the U.S.
> District Court to grant an injunction stopping the federal
> government from publishing a Draft Environmental Impact statement
> on the mine.
> The motion from two environmental groups and the company that
> operates the pecan groves in Sahuarita asked a federal judge to
> hold a hearing and to order that the U.S. Forest Service include a
> more balanced representation of all sides to the Rosemont dispute
> when it holds future meetings of outside officials on the
> environmental statement.
> The motion, filed this month, is the latest move in the legal case
> over a series of 24 meetings that the Forest Service held from 2009
> through 2010 with officials of Pima County, Arizona Game and Fish
> Department and other cooperative agencies on the draft
> environmental document.
The opponents have already filed suit against the Forest Service.
> The latest motion is to seek an injunction to block the EIS from
> being released until a trial can be held on the lawsuit’s merits.
> The motion was filed by the Farmers Investment Co, Save the Scenic
> Santa Ritas and the Center for Biological Diversiy.
> The U.S. Justice Department declined immediate comment on the
> injunction request. It is due to reply to the motion on April 11,
> and the Rosemont opponents are due to reply on April 26. However,
> the district court hasn’t yet approved this schedule, said Charles
> Miller, a Justice Department spokesman.
> The lawsuit charges that the Forest Service illegally ran these
> meetings with Rosemont officials and consultants present at 19 of
> them, but not any organized opponents of the mine. Such an action
> violates the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), which requires
> that advisory committee meetings be open to the public and that its
> membership must balance all viewpoints on the mine, the lawsuit says.
> The federal law excludes advisory groups consisting only of
> government officials and their representatives. But the injunction
> requested cites a handbook written by the U.S. Council on
> Environmental Quality that says the law applies when a group
> including one or more non-government officials offers advice to a
> lead agency on alternatives that should be included in an
> environmental statement, the injunction request said.
> In a letter to the mine opponents on Jan. 14, Coronado National
> Forest Supervisor Jim Upchurch wrote that the service doesn’t
> consider the Rosemont committee an advisory group that is covered
> by the FACA law. The main reason for Rosemont’s presence at the
> meetings “has been and will be solely for the purpose of providing
> and receiving relevant technical information about the project,” Upchurch wrote in that letter.