State regulator seeks public comment on key Rosemont mitigation plan that it has not made available for review

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The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality is seeking public comment on a crucial mitigation plan for the proposed $1.9 billion Rosemont Copper Mine without providing the plan for the public to review.

Instead, the ADEQ has only provided the public a brief, four-paragraph summary of an amended proposal submitted by Toronto-based Hudbay Minerals’ Arizona subsidiary Rosemont Copper Company.

The ADEQ summary outlines Rosemont’s latest proposal to modify a Sonoita Creek farm so it can qualify as conservation credits to compensate for the expected loss of desert wetlands caused by its massive copper mine.

The regulatory agency has already granted “conditional” approval of the plan before the plan has been released to the public. The ADEQ opened a public comment period on its conditional decision on Oct. 6 and is set to close 30 days later on Nov. 6.

Save the Scenic Santa Ritas, a Tucson-based citizens group opposed to the Rosemont Mine, on Thursday requested the state to post Rosemont’s proposed mitigation plan on its website and to extend the public comment period for 60 days from the date the plan is posted.

“It is impossible for the public to comment on ADEQ’s decision if ADEQ does not provide the public the underlying document on which it based its preliminary decision,” Gayle Hartmann, president of SSSR states in a letter to the agency.

Hartmann stated that the state’s “failure to post for public review the materially relevant information on which ADEQ has based its preliminary decision and failure to give the public a reasonable amount of time to review that information would violate the spirit, if not the letter, of the Arizona Administrative Procedure Act and its Regulatory Bill of Rights.”

The ADEQ is required under the federal Clean Water Act to certify that Rosemont’s proposed mitigation plan for Sonoita Creek Ranch will not violate applicable Surface Water Quality Standards. The state issued a CWA Section 401 certification in February 2015 for Rosemont’s previous mitigation plan for the creek.

Rosemont subsequently submitted a “Final Habitat Mitigation and Monitoring Plan” for Sonoita Creek Ranch to the ADEQ on Sept. 14. Rosemont followed up nine days later with its application for a 401 certification that included a project description and maps. The state issued its conditional certification soon after and opened the public comment period on Oct. 6.

The ADEQ, however, has not made the Final Habitat Mitigation and Monitoring Plan and Rosemont’s certification application available for public review.

This information is crucial in the overall approval process for the mine.

Rosemont still needs to obtain a Clean Water Act permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers into order to build the mile-wide, half-mile deep open pit copper mine.

The Army Corps must determine whether Rosemont’s Final Habitat Mitigation and Monitoring Plan fully compensates for the expected destruction of water resources by the proposed mine. Sonoita Creek Ranch restoration has been considered the linchpin in Rosemont’s mitigation plan.

A 2015 technical report commissioned by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency sharply criticized Rosemont’s previous Sonoita Creek Ranch mitigation plan. The EPA-contracted technical report concluded that Rosemont’s Sonoita Creek Ranch mitigation plan “will not function as designed.”

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14 Responses to State regulator seeks public comment on key Rosemont mitigation plan that it has not made available for review

  1. ALAN JOHNSON says:

    ONCE AGAIN , GOVERNMENT BUREAUCRACY PREVAILS WHERE THE PUBLIC IS TREATED LIKE MUSHROOMS – ” LEFT IN THE DARK AND FED A LOT OF CRAP ” . WHO AND/OR WHAT IS DRIVING THE GRAVY TRAIN THAT HUDBAY IS TRYING TO BOARD ?

    THERE HAS BEEN GOVERNMENT MUDDLING AT ALL LEVELS EVER SINCE THE ROSEMONT PROJECT CAME TO LIGHT . FIRST IT WAS AUGUSTA WHO RAN CIRCLES AROUND GOVERNMENT AUTHORITIES . HUDBAY HAS TAKEN OVER FROM AUGUSTA AND IS DOING THE SAME . THE GOVERNMENT AGENCIES ARE DITHERING OVER THE ISSUING OF PERMITS AND IT IS OBVIOUS THAT THE RIGHT HAND DOES NOT KNOW WHAT THE LEFT HAND IS DOING . WHAT A WASTE OF MONEY !

    THE PUBLIC HAS A RIGHT TO BE ABLE TO ACCESS ALL REPORTS PRODUCED BY GOVERNMENT AGENCIES INVOLVED IN THE ROSEMONT SAGA . THESE REPORTS ARE PRODUCED USING TAX PAYER’S DOLLARS AND WITHHOLDING THEM BORDERS ON A CONSTITUTIONAL VIOLATION .

    THE TIME HAS COME TO LAUNCH A ” WRITE-IN ” TO ELECTED OFFICIALS IN ORDER TO AROSE A STRONG POLITICAL OPPOSITION TO THE ROSEMONT PROJECT . LET US RALLY TOGETHER TO END THE SAGA AND TO SEND HUDBAY PACKING ON ITS WAY BACK TO CANADA .

  2. thomas stewart says:

    Good Golly Did I Hear Someone Say What A Waste Of Money?? Yikeess I Think That Maybe We Get President Donald Trump As He Did On That “Coal”?? Remember Everything Good Comes Out Of The Ground! Coal, Gold, Silver And Copper!! Lets Get This Rosemont Mine In Gear!! God Bless America.

  3. madeline vernalia says:

    We need to see the full mitigation plan. My opinion is that this mine is going to do irreparable damage to the air, the water, the soil and the dark sky of this lovely area.

  4. Diane Rau says:

    First, the public has a right to the full ADEQ report on Sonoita Creek mitigation by Hudbay. Secondly there is no mitigation possible for the destruction of this habitat and water resource.

  5. Steve Bland says:

    This is an obvious violation of the intent of the law which is to inform the public. Why has not this public agency not done it’s duty, to inform and protect?

  6. Carla Kerekes Martin says:

    It is beyond understanding that the public would stand by and not fight, through whatever means possible, to be allowed to read this entire report. This area is not only important to wild life and the environment but to the entire watershed, including the Tucson basin. The public has the absolute right to read this entire report prior to any further action being taken. We must keep fighting for not only our rights but for the environment of this necessary and enviornmentally important watershed.

  7. Lou schatz says:

    This is outrageous. How is it possible to comment when there are not full reports released? A clear violation of the intent of the law.

  8. Lael T. Mark says:

    Please make all environmental impact, construction, and easement reports available to the public under our basic “right to know” tenets with the Freedom of Information Act. Madera Canyon is my most sacred place among all my travels in the Western and Southern U.S. Having a copper mine on the northeastern slopes of the Santa Rita Mountains will have devastating impacts on water quality, air quality, and wildlife, no matter how responsible and limited the mining operation appears to be on the surface! Please SAVE my beautiful Santa Ritas.

    Sincerely,

    Lael T. Mark

  9. Thomas Knox says:

    I would be happy to go to ADEQ offices and demand the report. Where?

  10. michael Stabile says:

    This is a sham, how can anyone comment without seeing all the facts. This mine will effect Tucson, Sonoita and Patagonia. We have a right to see the full report

  11. Fergus Graham says:

    Now that there are encouraging signs (in above comments) that Santa Ritas watchers are getting stirred up, isn’t it time to start stirring the pot more vigorously?

  12. First off this mine will help create thousands of jobs and training opportunities and learning opportunities for everyone in this country not only will the minerals provide for your homes, your businesses, and your vehicles that you drive but it will also help lower costs throughout our copper community it will help preserve resources in our country and better the lives of your children and mine. Sometimes it takes a small sacrifice to gain huge amounts for the future of humanity sometimes we got to open our eyes to see the bettering of our future and Minerals like this can do wonders for our Humanity.

    • Matt wallen says:

      Im a little worried the group has left the track here. The website said report is availble by appt. You have to call or email to setup a viewing. This will most likely fly as a legal disclosure so maybe we should instead be focused on the response we should all be submitting. I was hoping for some guidance from sssr to how we should progress in protest. Call our state rep. ? Seems to me like we may need to possibly align with some larger conservation groups to get more pull. Hudbay is systematically taking down the few defenses that this area has which does not leave much time for action on our part. I beleive there will need to be some fundemental shift to the overall legal policy on what is allowable, mining, etc within our delicate water scarce region that will need to possibly come from the pima county board or city of tucson. HOW CAN WE AFFECT REAL CHANGE? The current route seems a little risky.

  13. Tracy Scheinkman says:

    ADEQ appears to have made it deliberately difficult to view the proposed mitigation documents. One link was broken, another led to a generic page that did not have an obvious button available. I finally found this one: http://static.azdeq.gov/pn/cwa_rosemont.pdf
    Who knows how long that will be available and it certainly didnt have sufficient information. However what it does say has to do with filling in and duverting portions of Sonoita Creek, a creek whose flow is nearly perennial and that supplies nerous wildlife and birds with habitat and water. It says nothing about what this will do downstream to the quality of the habitst at the Audibon Patton Center or the Nature Conservancy’s Preserve. I would appreciate if SSSR can provide an analysis to help us make cogent comments to ADEQ. Simply asking for more information from them is not enough. We haveonly until Nov.20 to make solid comments in why the plan is a failure. Thank you for all you do!