The Environmental Protection Agency says the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers shouldn’t approve a key permit needed for the proposed Rosemont Mine to start construction.
Based on the information currently available, Rosemont Copper’s application for a federal Clean Water Act permit doesn’t appear to meet federal guidelines for issuing such permits, “and should not be permitted as proposed,” EPA said in a Nov. 7 letter that was publicly released this week.
The letter ticked off a long list of EPA concerns about what it sees as inadequacies in the mine’s plans to buy both land and water rights off the 4,400-acre mine site to compensate for the damage the mine will do to streams and washes on and off the site. The Army Corps makes the final decision on such permits – which are usually granted on development projects. EPA has a veto power over such projects, although it’s only used it 13 times in its history.
In an interview, Rosemont Copper vice president Jamie Sturgess said he sees the EPA letter as simply another step in a detailed process involving several agencies toward getting the final approvals needed for the $1.2 billion copper mine in the Santa Rita Mountains. Until the Forest Service weighs in with its Final Environmental Impact Statement for the mine project, it’s impossible to know for sure what the mine’s impacts will be and to develop a final mitigation plan for the project, he said.
But Rosemont opponents Save the Scenic Santa Ritas said in a news release that EPA “has dealt a dramatic and potentially devastating blow” to the mine proposal because of EPA’s veto authority.
Read more in tomorrow's Star