July 31, 2019
Today US District Court Judge James Soto issued an order granting summary judgement in two cases brought by conservation organizations and Tribal governments against the proposed Rosemont open pit copper mine south of Tucson, Arizona in the Santa Rita Mountains. The Court vacated and remanded the Coronado National Forest’s Final Environmental Impact Statement and Record of Decision which halts the project.
The lawsuits were brought by Save the Scenic Santa Ritas, the Arizona Mining Reform Coalition, The Center for Biological Diversity, and the Grand Canyon Chapter of the Sierra Club and by the Tohono O’odham Nation, Pasqua Yaqui Tribe, and the Hopi Tribe.
“Today’s decision by Judge Soto will help ensure that Arizona’s communities and the environment will be protected from the ravages of this ill-conceived and devastating mining proposal. Future generations will look back at this day and marvel that our organizations and Tribal governments needed to go to court to force the US Forest Service and the Army Corps of Engineers to do what they are chartered to do – protect our water and natural heritage.”
Part of Judge Soto’s order reads:
“Throughout the administrative process, the Forest Service improperly evaluated andmisapplied: 1) Rosemont’s right to surface use; 2) the regulatory framework in which the Forest Service needed to analyze those surface rights; and 3) to what extent the Forest Service could regulate activities upon Forest Service land in association with those surface rights. These defects pervaded throughout the FEIS and ROD, and led to an inherently flawed analysis from the inception of the proposed Rosemont Mine. The Court grants summary judgment in favor of SSSR and the Tribes in Cases 2 and 3, vacates and remands the Forest Service’s FEIS and ROD, and denies Defendants’ cross-motions for summary judgment in cases 2 and 3.16 See 5 U.S.C. § 706(2)(A) (“[t]he reviewing court shall . . . hold unlawful and set aside” unlawful agency actions).17 The Clerk of the Court shall enter judgment. In light of this Order, there are no exigent circumstances necessitating emergency injunctive relief; as such, all of Plaintiffs’ motions seeking a preliminary injunction in Consolidated Cases A and B18 are denied without prejudice.”
Judge Soto denies motions for Preliminary injunctions from the parties listed above in two additional lawsuits without prejudice (meaning that they could be refiled at a later date) because granting summary judgement makes the Preliminary Injunctions moot.
Judge Soto will rule later in yet another lawsuit brought by the Center for Biological Diversity over the Forest Service’s approval of a Biological Opinion stating that the Rosemont mine proposal would not harm jaguars and other endangered species.