Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) today released the following statement for the record on the Senate Energy Committee’s hearing in the Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests and Mining regarding S. 339, the Southeast Arizona Land Exchange and Conservation Act of 2013:
“Mr. Chairman, I appreciate your holding a today’s hearing on S. 339, the Southeast Arizona Land Exchange and Conservation Act of 2013. I am proud to have introduced this legislation with my colleague, Senator Jeff Flake.
“This bill would transfer about 2,400 acres of Forest Service land to the Resolution Copper Mine, which would expand the mine’s subsurface activities – making it the largest copper operation in North America. With these added lands, the mine is expected to generate an estimated 1,400 jobs along with 2,300 related jobs through economic development in the area, including the struggling Town of Superior, Arizona. It will produce about 25 percent of our domestic copper demand for the next 50 years and have an economic impact of about $61.4 billion over its operational lifetime.
“In return, the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management would acquire about 5,000 acres of environmentally sensitive lands throughout the state and place them under federal protection. These lands include important birding areas, several large parcels that include one of the remaining old growth mesquite forests in the country, and property near the Lower San Pedro River, one of the last free flowing rivers in the southwest United States.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for the State of Arizona and the nation. This legislation was first introduced in 2005 when Resolution Copper began drilling into the decommissioned Magma Mine and installing infrastructure. Over the past eight years, Congress held six hearings on this proposal and at each hearing local-elected officials and the Arizona business community continue to signal their support for the mine’s expansion. Last week, Resolution Copper moved forward and filed its Mine Plan with the Forest Service, which makes public its operational designs and subjects the mine to a full environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and to federal policies on tribal consultation. In my view, Congress should not delay this land exchange any longer.
“Arizona is the largest copper-producing state in the nation, which is why support for this legislation remains strong in my home state. I hope that those who remain concerned about the land exchange will take the opportunity to read the legislation, understand the protections afforded to the Apache Leap rockface, and review the Mine Plan that has been filed.
“Again, I thank the Chairman and the Subcommittee for their consideration of this legislation and I urge my colleagues to support its passage in the Senate.”