sell off part of the Tonto National Forest, created by President Dwight Eisenhower, to a foreign mining interest, Rio Tinto, a company that happens to be partly owned by the Iranians.
...the fifth largest forest in the United States, the Tonto National Forest is one of the most-visited “urban” forests in the U.S. (approximately 5.8 million visitors annually). Its boundaries are Phoenix to the south, the Mogollon Rim to the north and the San Carlos and Fort Apache Indian reservations to the east.
This legislation has already failed 12 times but John McCain and old warhorse Jeanne Kirkpatrick won't be dissuaded and the fix appears to be in. Lots of locals are pro mine, actually thinking that they are going to get jobs out of the transfer. Wouldn't be surprised at anything the folks to the east of us do, at this point.
But don't look for any payday for the American public if this thing goes through. Mining companies pay no royalties, so the money goes to the foreign owners. The San Carlos Apaches are against the project as are the few environmentalists that may still exist in Arizona.
...according to opponents of the deal, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and backers in the House are trying to attach the deal to must-pass legislation -- most likely the National Defense Authorization Act, which comes from the Armed Services Committee that McCain will chair starting in January.There are questions about environmental regulations being required if the deal does go through, since the enormous mine would now be on private land.
The main argument for the bill is that it would create some jobs -- as many as 4,000, according to McCain. But Grijalva notes that Rio Tinto has repeatedly spoken about switching over to robotic mining methods that require fewer workers. The House even voted down an amendment that would have required Rio Tinto to put its remote operations center nearby, Grijalva said.*
Grijalva and others also argued that they are not opposed to mining the copper, but that they want it done in a way that respects the local tribes and the environment, and that ideally ensures U.S. taxpayers get the full benefit of the deal.
A Rio Tinto official said that Resolution Copper has already filed a mining plan with the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management, starting an environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act.
A BLM official was not immediately able to determine the status of that review, but agreed with Grijalva that if the land is transferred to Resolution Copper, the NEPA review would no longer apply, since the land would become private. Under the land-swap bill, the transfer must be done within a year.
"The bill restricts environmental reviews to applicable federal laws, which rarely apply to private lands," Grijalva said. "Even if we find that there’s going to be effects on the watershed, effects on groundwater, effects on sacred sites, that there is not an equitable trade in terms of net value, then there’s no remedy or mitigation that we can ask for because it’s on private land."
Rio Tinto noted that the bill contains provisions for appraising and adjusting the amount Resolution Copper pays to the government, but Grijalva said there's no way to ensure it would be adequate.
"Information regarding what the net value is is proprietary," Grijalva said. "How much is this federal asset worth? Is this a fair trade or not? We don’t know."
On top of that, he and others noted that the holders of hard-rock mining rights pay no royalties to the federal government, as they do with oil leases. And if the bulk of the copper winds up being shipped to China, the world's top consumer of the metal, Grijalva sees very little benefit to American taxpayers.
In other news, the Zonies and their Italian cohorts are contemplating turning the eastern side of the Grand Canyon into a monstrous, well, monstrosity, the Grand Canyon Escalade project with its tram, trailer park, boutique hotels, shops, an elevated river walk and other oozing and fetid toxicities that have no place in the natural landscape. Why do Republicans always want to turn nature into a Disney style theme park?
“The Grand Canyon is the most protected land in the world,” said David Uberuaga, the park superintendent, as he sat in his office at the headquarters, 10 minutes by foot from the canyon’s rim. “It’s a World Heritage Site. We have the protections of the National Park Service Act, the act that created the Grand Canyon, the Clean Water Act.”
“All that body of law, and I still spend most of my time protecting the place, day in and day out,” he said. “Everybody wants to make a buck off the canyon.”
You get the usual crap out of the proponents.
Greg Bryan, the mayor of Tusayan and manager of a Best Western there, said that development was needed to accommodate park workers as well as people who might want to live near this national park.Environmentalists are elitists who don't want to share. We live near it so it is ours to plunder.
“We want people to own their own home,” he said. “It’s awfully nice that the environmental community that lives in Chicago or Boston or Los Angeles — who live in their nice homes and who can go down to the corner grocery store and get whatever — can complain about what’s taking place here, without realizing that the people who live here need to have some quality of life as well.”
R. Lamar Whitmer, a developer from Scottsdale who is behind the Escalade, said it would be a boon both for the Indian population and for tourists who might otherwise never get to enjoy the tranquil isolation at the bottom of the canyon.Lamar, if the tourists want to see the bottom of the canyon, let them fucking hike down.
“We don’t want to see the site desecrated,” said Renae Yellowhorse, 52, who has lived her whole life on this Navajo land. “It’s crazy to say that a tram and an 1,100-foot walkway is going to scar the Grand Canyon in any way,” Mr. Whitmer said. “If anything, it will allow people to experience the canyon in a sensitive, respectful way.”
Carol from Borrego Springs sent me a letter:
Hi Robert: If you want a real backyard issue, here is a sample..... go online and sign this petition, before they totally pave over the Anza Borrego Desert State Park (would they do this to Yosemite????) Anza Borrego, and Borrego Springs, are apparently a throw-away community and state park. This is serious stuff, and we are already in danger of losing our entire water sour here. I also attach a copy of my letter! Think how great if you could pass this info on on your blog!!!! Carol
Hi Friends. This whole idea of rooftop solar is very interesting to me... and I don't understand why the Energy Commission rejected it, and are promoting more solar farms. We have two so far in Borrego. They need water (our scarce water!) to clean the solar panels to keep them efficient. And the off-roaders are creating so much dust in the air that the solar panels need cleaning more often than expected! The Borrego skies were brown yesterday from the vacationers. Please sign the petition for us.
More renewable energy is available from rooftop solar in San Diego and Los Angeles Counties than will be derived from the siting of utility-scale generating facilities on 2 million acres of desert habitat called for in the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan. The unintended consequences of utility-scale facilities in the desert are becoming known and are unacceptable--dust storms in Lancaster, midair incineration of birds at Ivanpah, depletion of scarce groundwater in Borrego Springs.
That's why I signed a petition to Chris Beale, DRECP Acting Exec. Dir., Robert B. Weisenmiller, Chair, California Energy Commission, and Jerry Brown, Governor, California, which says:
"The California Energy Commission (CEC) rejected rooftop solar without ever doing a detailed analysis of it as an alternative. Demand the CEC perform a detailed analysis of rooftop solar as an alternative in its Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan."
Will you sign the petition too? Click here to add your name: