Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) today applauded passage of the Resolution Copper land exchange, which was included in the Carl Levin and Howard P. "Buck" McKeon National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015, passed by the Senate this evening and now headed to President Obama’s desk for signature:
“We are extremely proud that, with the support of Republicans and Democrats in both Houses of Congress, the Resolution Copper land exchange today passed the Senate and is now heading to the president’s desk for signature. This is a great victory for the State of Arizona, after years of hard work.
“There is clearly a strategic national interest in increasing America's domestic production of copper. To maintain the strength of the most technologically-advanced military in the world, America’s armed forces need stable supplies of copper for their equipment, ammunition, and electronics. In fact, copper is the second-most utilized mineral by the Department of Defense, and the Pentagon has labeled it an ‘essential mineral.’
“The public lands title in NDAA will help address our strategic national interest in copper by advancing the Resolution Copper Mine project, which has potential to meet 25% of U.S. demand by developing the largest copper deposit ever discovered in North America.
“Most importantly, Resolution Copper represents a game-changer for an area of Arizona facing grave economic challenges. It is estimated to create some 3,700 mining-related jobs in and around the Town of Superior and generate more than $61 billion in economic value to our state over the life of the mine.
“The Resolution Copper land exchange legislation has been stalled for many years over environmental questions and Native American concerns. As part of the bipartisan, bicameral negotiations and weeks of meetings among members and staff of the committees of jurisdiction involved in crafting the NDAA lands title, several key bipartisan compromises were made to the land exchange bill we introduced last year. First, the bill requires a full environmental impact study on the mine in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) before the land is officially transferred to the mine. Second, while a number of Arizona tribal governments raised concerns about the closure of a Forest Service campground called ‘Oak Flat,’ the bill guarantees that Native Americans can continue to access the campground for many years until the mining company needs to mine underneath it. Third, our bill guarantees that Apache Leap, which is celebrated by Native American lore, is not part of the mine and is permanently protected through a special management area designation that the Forest Service will manage.
“For nearly a decade we have worked to advance this issue with the longtime support of Senator Jon Kyl as well as local and state leaders. We want to recognize the unwavering efforts of Congressman Paul Gosar and Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick, who were vitally important to today’s outcome.
“We look forward to continuing our efforts to help realize the immense potential of this project for the people of Arizona and America.”