In another sordid chapter involving the Forest Service and its relationship with Augusta Resource and its subsidiary Rosemont Copper, a letter signed by 11 leaders of environmental and conservation organizations was sent this week to Coronado National Forest Supervisor Jim Upchurch demanding that he “take immediate and decisive steps” to restore public confidence in the public comment process for the draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the proposed massive open-pit copper mine in the Santa Rita Mountains near Tucson, AZ.
This letter comes after disclosure that Augusta/Rosemont’s PR firm is organizing the Forest Service’s public meetings on the DEIS and a call by Congressman Grijalva for the Forest Service to suspend the public comment period until the public participation process can be developed without Augusta/Rosemont’s inappropriate influence.
What makes this even more remarkable is that a federal judge previously criticized both the Forest Service and Rosemont/Augusta for an “appearance of impropriety” when Augusta/Rosemont was allowed to participate in closed door meetings.
For the Forest Service to allow Augusta/Rosemont to influence how public comment will be received is another unfortunate example that the interests of Rosemont’s investors have a higher priority with this agency than protecting the public interest.
Here is some news coverage of this issue.