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For Immediate Release, January 19, 2012

Contact: Randy Serraglio, (520) 784-1504

Public Comment Period Closes on Rosemont Mine, Amidst Public Outrage

Forest Service Should Reopen Comment Period to Ensure Public Has Its Say

TUCSON, Ariz. The Coronado National Forest on Wednesday closed the public comment period for its “draft environmental impact statement” on the proposed Rosemont mine amid confusion and technological glitches, potentially denying some citizens their right to comment.

“Apparently, as you might expect, many people were weighing in at the last minute, and the Coronado wasn’t prepared to handle the traffic,” said Randy Serraglio, a conservation advocate with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Their comment web portal went down, and when they posted an alternative route for comments, the url and email address were incorrect and therefore useless.”

The Center on Thursday called on the Coronado National Forest to immediately fix the glitches and reopen the comment period to ensure that anyone who wants to comment on the Rosemont mine can be assured their comments are submitted properly.

“It’s vital that the public’s voice be heard on this controversial mine,” Serraglio said. “Unfortunately, we’ve received multiple complaints from our members in recent months that their emailed comment submissions on this project have bounced. It’d be one thing if this was an isolated incident but it’s part of a pattern with the Coronado Forest not upholding the public trust on this project.”

It’s not immediately clear how many comments were submitted that did not make it through the system.

“This latest glitch is part of a continuing pattern of failure with this process and raises many questions,” said Serraglio. “How many people were denied their right to comment? Why would the Coronado stress electronic submissions without ensuring that its infrastructure was adequate or taking care to make sure that public comments were accurately recorded?”

The proposed copper mine south of Tucson has been a source of controversy for years. Thousands of people have attended public meetings in recent months and hundreds of pages have been written analyzing the potential impacts of the mine. The Coronado National Forest has repeatedly come under fire for how it’s handled the Rosemont project, including for its decision to allow the mining company’s public relations firm to arrange public meetings and allow mining company representatives to participate in meetings that were closed to the public – a move that triggered a lawsuit in which a federal judge ruled the Coronado’s conduct presented “at a minimum, an appearance of impropriety.”

“The decision on the Rosemont mine will have profound implications on our air, water, wildlife and natural landscapes,” Serraglio said. “But The Coronado has displayed questionable judgment and integrity throughout this process, resulting in a fatally flawed, woefully incomplete analysis that utterly fails to capture the true impacts of this proposal. They should go back to the drawing board to rework the analysis and get it right.”

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