Forest Service Rescinds Environmental Impact Statement For Oak Flat
The U.S. Forest Service issued a Final Environmental Impact Statement in January that cleared the way for one of the largest copper mines in the U.S. in the Tonto National Forest. The agency has now rescinded that decision.
Critics say the impact statement was fast-tracked in the final days of the Trump administration. That set the clock ticking on a land swap that would have cleared the way for the mine on a section of the forest known as Oak Flat.
It also resulted in three lawsuits and a flurry of criticism. The area is a popular recreation site, and the San Carlos Apaches say that Oak Flat is sacred. The mine would eventually create a large crater and consume thousands of acre-feet of water.
Congressman Raul Grijalva said the decision buys time until Congress can pass legislation to block the mine.
“Eventually that there’s going to be a legislative fix that’s going to be required, you know, a remedy. And so we’re going to hopefully have that filed and ready to go next week, and then go from there,” Grijalva said.
The Forest Service said in a statement that more time was needed to conduct a thorough review.
Gov. Doug Ducey released a statement denouncing the Forest Service's decision. He said the mine would create jobs and generate income.