A Not-So-Simple Exchange: Why Arizona’s Oak Flat Deserves Continued Protection From Copper Mining

Jan. 2013 update: U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ, CD-1) is picking up where Rep. Gosar left off by working to privatize Oak Flat, Arizona for the foreign-owned Resolution Copper.

The newly-elected Rep. Kirkpatrick took office in January 2013. She has previously sponsored a failed Oak Flat land exchange bill when she last held office in 2009, prior to losing her seat to Rep. Gosar in 2010.

Rep. Kirkpatrick will meet with Resolution Copper in Superior on Jan. 11, 2013. Please write Rep. Kirkpatrick a letter today if you’re concerned about Oak Flat.

In 2011, Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) sponsored legislation in Congress that would give a federally-protected recreation site in Arizona to a foreign copper mining company called Resolution Copper.

This land bill would spell destruction for a scenic area that President Eisenhower set aside specifically against mining in 1955. Oak Flat, Devil’s Canyon, and Apache Leap are now threatened by a proposed copper mine should Gosar’s bill pass. As of late 2012, the bill is still in Congress.

Why did Eisenhower protect this area in the first place? It is a beautiful natural resting place and it’s also sacred for the San Carlos Apache Tribe who have held ceremonies here for centuries. Devil’s Canyon contains a rare Sonoran Desert riparian forest with year-round running water.

Although jobs and riches are promised by Resolution Copper, the fact remains that zero royalties on the copper would be paid to the US taxpayers, unlike oil and coal companies that must pay royalties. Job estimates have inflated wildly over the past seven years, but the public remains largely opposed to this project which would send billions of dollars overseas while Arizona receives a pittance in the form of temporary jobs. Certain side effects include contaminated water, a permanently destroyed landscape, and health issues from mining wastes.

Please contact your representative and let them know we should continue to preserve Oak Flat. Go here for more information.


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