|Y-A Nation continues opposition to mining land exchange act|
|Written by Mark Lineberger|
|Friday, 25 November 2011 00:00|
The Yavapai-Apache Nation is keeping up its support of other Apache tribal governments in the state in an effort to protect sacred sites from mining interests.
The U.S. House of Representatives passed a measure late last month that would brush aside environmental laws and allow thousands of acres of federal land to be exchanged, allowing for a large copper mining operation in Pinal County.
Tribal governments are concerned that not only would this endanger sacred areas, but that the House, in their view, passed the measure seemingly without taking into account their concerns or environmental studies.
The measure passed the House 285-136, largely along party lines with Republicans in favor of the bill and Democrats opposed.
The bill, called the Southeast Arizona Land Exchange and Conservation Act was introduced by U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar [R-District 1], who has argued that the measure would create many jobs in an economy where jobs are desperately needed.
Gosar has argued this measure will lead to the creation of 3,700 jobs.
According to a study cited on Gosar’s website, “the total economic impact of the project on the state of Arizona [will] be over $61.4 billion, nearly $1 billion per year, and another $20 billion in federal, state, county and local tax revenue.”
“Getting this mine going has been a priority for Arizona for over 10 years,” the statement reads. “Further, a prior version of this legislation was stalled for over six years.”
Aside from the tribal governments, including Tonto, White Mountain and San Carlos Apache tribes, other opponents have included environmental groups concerned over the potential impact such a massive mining operation would have on wildlife.
The tribal governments have been joined in support by not only the Yavapai-Apache Nation, but several others as well throughout Arizona and the Southwest.
The YAN tribal council passed a resolution opposed to the exchange bill, which now goes to the U.S. Senate for consideration.
“The next step is to keep this from passing the Senate,” said Fran Chavez, spokeswoman for the Yavapai-Apache Nation.
To that end, representatives from the Yavapai-Apache Nation joined other tribes in a Nov. 11 meeting to try and figure out what measures to take next.
“It’s an unofficial coalition,” Chavez said. “It was an informational meeting.”
The National Congress of American Indians threw its support behind the tribes in 2009 with a resolution asking the government to oppose any attempts that could endanger sacred sites. The group has also maintained it will continue that support “until the United States government and all its agencies act in a manner that is respectful to the quality of life and existence of tribal communities.”