WSJ op-ed writer blasts EPA over Rosemont

2014-01-04T12:09:00Z 2014-01-07T16:42:38Z WSJ op-ed writer blasts EPA over RosemontTony Davis Arizona Daily Star
January 04, 2014 12:09 pm  • 

Update III: I just went back to Google, and found a version of the complete story there on this link: http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304367204579268771980972030

So I took down the whole article. To access this story via the above link, you need to Google it, using a search phrase such as "Rosemont Wall Street Journal McGroarty." If you do that, the full version comes up. But if you try to paste the link into the URL slot on your browser, you'll only get a couple of paragraphs and a request to subscribe to WSJ.

UPDATE II: Someone contacted the Star today to say that the link I posted now takes you to a site caught behind the WSJ paywall. So now, here's the whole column, unexpurgated. My original post still lies below the column.

UPDATE: The Wall Street Journal paywall has now been taken down for this story on Google, although not on the WSJ site itself. Here is the Rosemont op-ed article in full.

Taking a closer look at the piece this evening, I see the lead has two factual errors:

"On Dec. 13, the proposed Rosemont Copper project in southwestern Arizona—which would produce about one-tenth of all the copper in the U.S. every year—got the green light from the U.S. Forest Service to begin operations."

First, the project is proposed for southeastern Arizona, not southwestern Arizona. Second, the mine got a tentative green light from the Forest Service-a draft decision of approval, not a final one. Anyway, I make mistakes too, as I note down below. Below is my original post from earlier today:

The Rosemont Mine controversy has landed on the op-ed page of today's Wall Street Journal. Daniel McGroarty, president of American Resources Policy Network, a D.C.-based non-profit advocacy group and think tank, penned an article titled, "How the EPA sticks miners with a motherlode of regulation."

Its broader point is that the permit process for a new mine on federal land has grown way too long--an average of 7 to 10 years, as I've reported more than once on the Star's news pages. Rosemont, which has been trying to get permitted since 2007, is an example of that problem, he says.

The more pertinent thrust of McGroarty's piece to our readers is that notwithstanding the recent draft Forest Service decision to approve the mine, "Rosemont now faces two potentially fatal challenges from the EPA in the final stages of review: either death by a thousand pesky comments or an outright veto."

(Since this article is locked behind the Journal's generally impenetrable paywall, I'm printing more than the usual excerpt from an article I post.)

"In the bureaucratic equivalent of sticky riot foam -- a substance meant to slow and stop people on the street -- every few months, a couple of dozen pages furl out from the EPA to Rosemont's managers . . . The EPA churns out concerns about potential impacts on 18 miles of streams and threats to the "water quality" of the Davidson Canyon Wash, a single gulch -- filled intermittently by rain in a state with 39,039 rivers and streams."

After making the oft-heard arguments about the need for more copper to be produced into the U.S. rather than imported from Chile, and the stronger environmental standards in this country compared to the rest of the world, and the suffering of many unemployed heads of Tucson households awaiting this decision, he adds that such issues "surely must matter to the nation as much as a topminnow does to the EPA."

He concludes: "Finally, did Congress pass the National Environmental Protection (Policy) Act to put in place a means of balancing the benefits of resource extraction with competing public goods? Or did it set up an endless bureaucratic gauntlet designed to delay, derail or economically exhaust mine developers?

"Seven and a half years on, Rosemont Copper is still waiting for an answer."

(Since I just today had a correction printed after reporting this week that the Forest Service started working on the Rosemont EIS in 1998 instead of 2008, I have no right to criticize Mr. MGroarty's inaccuracy here. But for the record, Rosemont filed its mining plan with the Forest Service roughly six and a half, not seven and a half-years ago.)

For all readers, whatever their viewpoint, this article's presence clearly shows that Rosemont is now a national issue, that could well get more such attention as the final mine decision day draws nearer.

On its website, the American Resources Policy Network describes itself this way:

Our Purpose

The American Resources Policy Network supports the efforts of mining experts who believe that our nation should stand on its own two feet when it comes to supplying certain natural resources. We aim to inform the public how dependent America is on other nations for minerals and metals that exist here. We encourage the exploration of key minerals and metals beneath our home turf.

Our Mission

America’s inability to supply our own mineral resources in a time of surging global demand threatens our strategic and economic future. The American Resources Policy Network’s panel of thought leaders and mining policy experts offer commentary, analysis, and options for reducing our dependence on foreign suppliers and improving development of American resources.

 

The American Resource Policy Network (ARPN) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan education and public policy research organization headquartered in Washington, D.C.  The ARPN depends solely on the contributions of individuals, corporations and foundations to educate the public and policy-makers on the need for natural resource development to reduce resource dependency that weakens U.S. economic competitiveness and national security. It is a 501(c)6 group (status pending) .

Also, an Internet search turned up this letter from nearly a year ago from a Green Valley resident criticizing another Journal op-ed by McGroarty, using the Rosemont case again to make another oft-heard argument: that the mine's copper will be exported to China for smelting, so what good will it do the U.S.' dependence on imported copper?

Feb. 10, 2013
 

Daniel McGroarty's "America's Growing Minerals Deficit" (op-ed, Jan. 31) overlooks one very important consideration. There isn't any assurance that the U.S.-mined minerals will be used to meet manufacturing needs in the U.S.

In southern Arizona a Canadian company, Augusta Resources, is in the permit-securing mode for open-pit mining of copper through its subsidiary, Rosemont Mine. This creates a conundrum in that the copper to be mined on U. S. soil by a foreign-owned company is expected to be sent to China for smelting, then made available on the world open market. Under the free-enterprise system this is a perfect example of laissez-faire. So what would seem like a very simple solution to the "growing minerals deficit" is fraught with complicating factors. Can we keep U.S.-mined minerals for exclusive use in this nation?

Don Severe

Green Valley, Ariz.

Finally, here's another McGroarty Journal op-ed piece from last year that has escaped the paywall. It deals with another big mine that is facing potential trouble from EPA, the equally controversial Pebble Mine in Alaska:

http://americanresources.org/category/op-ed/

At the end of this July 2013 piece, the organization is described as follows:

Mr. McGroarty is president of American Resources Policy Network, a public policy research group in Washington, D.C., that is supported by organizations and companies in mining and related industries.

In the latest article, the description of the group is slightly different:

Mr. McGroarty is president of American Resources Policy Network, a nonprofit, nonpartisan education and public policy research organization in Washington, D.C.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

About this blog

Star reporter Tony Davis covers topics in this blog that you have read under his byline for more than 30 years in the Southwest: water, growth, sprawl, pollution, climate change, endangered species, mining, grazing and traffic.

To reach Tony call 806-7746 (office) or 349-0350 (cell) or write him at tdavis@azstarnet.com.

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