The US Forest Service just announced they are rescinding the Resolution Copper Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) and the Draft Record of Decision on the project!
This halts the land exchange until a new FEIS is published.
Roger Featherstone, Director of the Arizona Mining Reform Coalition, welcomed this good news, “It is heartening that the Forest Service has listened to the overwhelming outcry from the public over the many deficiencies in the FEIS and the process that led to the release of a flawed document. This underscores yet again that the Resolution Copper project is a fatally flawed failed experiment. We urge the US Congress to pass legislation, as the Forest Service’s statement suggests, to once and forever end this proposed project and permanently protect Oak Flat.”
This is wonderful news and although there is still much to do to protect Oak Flat and the surrounding precious lands, we should take time out to thank and remember everyone that has worked so hard to protect Oak Flat and prepare for the final effort to make sure Oak Flat remains free forever!
The Forest Service’s statement reads:
“On January 15, 2021, the Tonto National Forest released the Resolution Copper Project Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) and draft Record of Decision (ROD) for objection. In the time since these documents were released, the Agency and Department have received significant input from collaborators, partners, and the public through a variety of means. Today, USDA directed the Forest Service to withdraw the Notice of Availability and rescind the Final Environmental impact Statement and draft Record of Decision. The pre-decisional objection period will be halted as well.
The project is proposed on Oak Flat, a site sacred to numerous Federally Recognized Tribes in the Southwest. The Department is taking this step to provide an opportunity for the agency to conduct a thorough review based on significant input received from collaborators, partners, and the public since these documents were released. The recent Presidential Memorandum on tribal consultation and strengthening nation to nation relationships counsels in favor of ensuring the Forest Service has complied with the environmental, cultural, and archaeological analyses required. USDA has concluded that additional time is necessary to fully understand concerns raised by Tribes and the public and the project’s impacts to these important resources and ensure the agency’s compliance with federal law. USDA and the Forest Service also understand that under federal law that the Forest Service has limited discretion related to protection of Oak Flat. Long term protection of the site will likely require an act of Congress. USDA and the Forest Service cannot give a precise length of time for completing the re-initiation of consultation but consultations such as this generally take several months.”