Public comment period underway on Rosemont’s Air Quality Permit after state strips Pima County of permitting authority

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The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality’s decision to strip Pima County of its authority to issue an air quality permit for the Rosemont Copper Company has triggered a 60-day public comment period on a draft permit.

The Arizona Daily Star reports that ADEQ said it is proposing to approve a Rosemont air-quality permit, will hold public hearings in September and October and decide by mid-February.

The agency’s officials wrote county officials on August 2 that they are providing “regulatory certainty” for the permitting, which has lasted well over a year and drawn two Rosemont lawsuits against the county.

The mining company appealed last year to the state to take the permitting process over, on the grounds that the state, not the county, has legal jurisdiction.

The Daily Star reported that ADEQ said its move to take over the permit stems from a Pima County Superior Court judge’s July 5 ruling that the county’s denial of the permit was “arbitrary and capricious.”

The judge didn’t order the county to issue a permit, but did order it to take more information from the company on what legal requirements Rosemont Copper must meet.

Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry accused the state of trying to put Rosemont’s approval “on a fast track,” since the state only posted a public notice about the permit last week and has already started taking comments.

The draft Arizona Department of Environmental Quality air quality permit for the Rosemont Mine is at www.azdeq.gov/download/calendar/080312dp2.pdf

Written comments must be sent by Oct. 9 to Balaji Vaidyanathan, air quality permits section manager, ADEQ, 1110 W. Washington St., 3415A-1, Phoenix, AZ 85007 or emailed to rosemontairpermit@azdeq.gov

ADEQ will hold a public hearing on the permit at 6 p.m., Oct. 9, at the Sycamore Elementary School, 16701 S. Houghton Road, in Vail. A hearing will be held in mid-September at a location to be determined.

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