The 111th Congress is history as of last night, December 22. As the final gavel banged, the current versions of the Oak Flat land exchange, S 409 and H.R. 4880 died. Tribal leaders, conservation groups and recreationist fought the bills hard and that had a lot to do with the bills dying for a third straight Congress.
But ironically, the final blow for S 409 came from its own sponsor. Senator John McCain had put a hold on 65 public lands bills and included S 409. While we disagree with Senator McCain in stopping the 65 worthwhile bills, we are in complete agreement with his making sure that Oak Flat remains in public ownership. We can only speculate as to why Senator McCain killed his own bill after all the (false) rhetoric about its being vital for the immediate restoration of Arizona’s (and to here Rio Tinto’s spin – the nation’s and maybe even the world’s) economy. Whatever Senator McCain’s reason, we’ll take it. Oak Flat and the surrounding area including Gaan Canyon, Apache Leap and Queen Creek canyon is simply to important for religious, ecological, and recreation values to be given to two foreign mining companies that made more than $6 Billion in profit last year.
Thanks to all who had a hand in defeating the Oak Flat land exchange and we welcome you back for the inevitable next onslaught brought to use by the courtesy of Rio Tinto!