Coalition files lawsuit to overturn Rosemont groundwater permit

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

Press release from the Save the Scenic Santa Ritas Association:

Local Coalition Goes to Court to Protect Southern Arizona Water

Lawsuit
filed to overturn Rosemont Groundwater Permit

(Tucson,
Ariz.) A diverse coalition of southern Arizonans filed a lawsuit on Friday to
overturn state approval of a key water permit for the proposed Rosemont Mine in
the Santa Rita Mountains, south of Tucson.

Despite
its name, the aquifer
protection permit
would allow a Canadian mining company to pollute Tucsons groundwater supplies with
mercury, arsenic, lead and other dangerous contaminants.

The suit
seeks to overturn the Arizona Water Quality Appeals Board's (WQAB) decision to
approve Rosemont Copper Companys Aquifer Protection Permit. The suit asserts that the WQAB
acted "arbitrarily and capriciously" when it rubber-stamped the
Administrative Law Judges rejection of administrative appeals of the permit.

Vancouver,
B.C.-based Augusta Resource Corporation is seeking permits for its subsidiary
Rosemont Copper Company to construct an open-pit copper mine in the Santa Rita
Mountains on the Coronado National Forest southeast of Tucson.

As
it stands today, the Aquifer Protection Permit for Rosemont should instead be
called the Rosemont Aquifer Pollution permit. Southern Arizonans take threats
to their water very seriously and that is why we are taking this action, said Gayle Hartmann,
President of Save the Scenic Santa Ritas, a citizens' coalition opposed to the
mine. Rosemont
likes to talk about the economics of this mine, but the economic costs will be
catastrophic if the WQAB and the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality
shirk their responsibilities and allow the permanent destruction of southern
Arizona's water resources by this foreign mining company.

Issues
identified in the suit include: 

* The WQAB rubber-stamped the
ALJ's findings and recommendations
. Water Quality Appeals Board members publicly admitted
they had not carefully read the ALJs decision nor any of the other materials submitted in the
course of the lengthy hearings on this matter. Despite that admission, their
written decision states – falsely – that they reviewed
the ALJ Decision, transcripts and arguments of the parties, and the WQAB
completed a full and careful deliberation of the same.”

* Failure to consider the mines potential
impacts to surface water as required by Arizona law
. Rosemont is proposing to
destroy a watershed that provides more than 20% of the groundwater recharge to
the Tucson basin with an massive open-pit copper mine and toxic mine waste
piled 600-800 ft. high.

* The permit is for a mine
plan that no longer exists
.
In August 2012, Rosemont filed documents with financial regulators indicating
that it made major modifications to the proposed configuration of the mine
facilities
changes that would impact groundwater quality. The agency should have examined
the mine proposal Rosemont is saying it will build now – not the one it was
talking about four years ago.

* The permit does not address
the mine
s
adverse impacts to plants and animals
.

The lawsuit requests that the permit be sent back to both
the WQAB and the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality to correct these
and other deficiencies.

“The stakes are too high. The damage Rosemont will inflict on
our region is permanent and can't be reversed.  The agencies tasked with
responsibility to protect our water must DO THEIR JOB,” Hartmann added.

Save the Scenic
Santa Ritas
is a non-profit,
community organization working to protect the Santa Rita and Patagonia
Mountains from environmental degradation caused by mining and mineral
exploration activities.

###

Read the Notice of Appeal and Complaint for Judicial Review of Administrative Decision
Here
.

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