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click to enlarge God bless El Jefe

Courtesy photo

God bless El Jefe

A Mine Delayed

Rosemont project stalls as a result of low copper prices, regulatory hurdles

Opponents of the proposed Rosemont Mine were cheering news that the open-pit project in the Santa Rita Mountains has been delayed indefinitely.

Officials from Rosemont Copper's Canadian parent company, Hudbay Minerals, announced on Feb. 24 that the project has been put on hold because of low copper prices and regulatory hurdles.

But company officials added in a press release that they still plan to move forward with the Rosemont mine once copper prices rebound.

"Hudbay remains committed to advancing Rosemont, which is expected to be one of the first new copper projects to be built once copper prices and capital market conditions improve," the release states.

Mine opponent Gayle Hartmann said the company's confidence in the project is a smokescreen to keep investors on board.

"Of course they sound bullish," said Hartmann, president of Save the Scenic Santa Ritas, a nonprofit group that has battled the project from the start. "It's not real, but that's the way they have to sound for their investors."

Hartmann said the mine, which would carve a mile-wide pit in the Santa Rita Mountains south of Tucson, "isn't going to happen at all."

But she said the announcement that Hudbay is delaying the mine is less meaningful than the upcoming decisions from the federal officials.

"We're pleased but it doesn't really mean anything," Hartmann says. "What's going to mean something is when the Army Corps denies their permit or the Fish and Wildlife Service says they have to do all sorts of mitigation that they're not going to be able to do."

While Rosemont owns the land it plans to mine, the company wants to use U.S. Forest Service land as a spot to dump its mining waste.

Fish and Wildlife Service officials have been studying the impact that the mine will have on the area's habitat, where endangered species including a jaguar named El Jefe and an ocelot have been spotted. A biological opinion, which is necessary before the U.S. Forest Service can approve the project, is expected to be released later this month.

The project has also run into trouble with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency, which must approve a Section 404 Permit under the Clean Water Act. Correspondence between Rosemont and the federal agencies has indicated that the regulatory bodies are skeptical about Rosemont's proposal.

Hartmann says that there were a "host of issues" for opposing the mine, including the impact on wildlife and the tourism industry in Southern Arizona.

But the biggest one is water. Hartmann remains concerned about the mine's plan to pump water away from the aquifer that serves Green Valley, Sahuarita and the Tucson area to "wash their rocks" and the danger that mining pollution, such as heavy metals, could have on Cienega Creek, Davidson Canyon and other areas near the mine.

"Water is a limited resource—and our most precious one," Hartmann said.

Brewer Picks Trump

Former AZ governor is among those endorsing The Donald in recent days

Over the weekend, former Arizona governor Jan Brewer was among the current and former elected officials who came out to endorse Donald Trump for president.

Brewer said her endorsement was based on Trump's proposal to stop illegal immigration by building a massive wall along the border. Many politicians have promised, as John McCain once said, to "build the danged fence," but only Trump has come up with the idea of building a "beautiful" concrete wall and making Mexico pay for it.

It's a plan that seems somewhat unlikely; former Mexican President Felipe Calderón told CNBC earlier this month that "Mexican people, we are not going to pay any single cent for such a stupid wall," while former Mexican president Vicente Fox was more blunt in his comments, telling Univision's Jorge Ramos: "I am not going to pay for that fucking wall." Of course, when Trump heard that, he said the wall "just got 10 feet higher," so those Mexicans better zip their lips or it's gonna cost them a lot of pesos once the Trump logo is on the White House.

Brewer—who was governor of the state for six years—apparently believes that Trump's border proposals are not only feasible but the best ones out there.

"For years I pleaded with the federal government to do their job and secure our border," Brewer said in a prepared statement released by Team Trump. "Today, we can elect a President who will do just that—Donald J. Trump. Mr. Trump will secure our borders, defend our workers and protect our sovereignty. Mr. Trump will stand for our law enforcement, our police and our immigration officers. Mr. Trump will actually enforce the rule of law." Brewer added that Trump is the man to rescue America from the threat posed by illegal immigration, which has actually been on the decline for years.

"This may be our last chance to ensure our children grow up in a country with borders, and with a government that protects its own people," Brewer said. "This is our chance—Donald Trump is our chance—to save this country and Make America Great Again." (Those capital letters in Trump's slogan appear in Brewer's written statement, in case you're wondering.)

Brewer joined New Jersey Gov. Chris Christy—who had earlier said that Trump was one of the "carnival barkers of today," among other choice criticisms rounded up by Talking Points Memo—and Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions in backing The Donald ahead of Super Tuesday. It's hard to believe that anyone involved in actual governing could believe that Trump's endless spew of bullshit qualifies him for the presidency, so you'll have to make your own guess as to why they are doing it. Do they want a job? Do they want to stay relevant? Are they delusional? Have they watched too many episodes of The Apprentice?

Whatever their reasoning, they are helping The Donald by validating him as a legitimate candidate instead of the bullshit artist he really is. But who can blame GOP voters who believe the snake oil he is peddling? Their leaders have happily been feeding them bullshit since Obama was elected president. As the first Republican president once said: "You can fool some of the people all of the time."

Zona Politics with Jim Nintzel airs at 8 a.m. Sunday on the CW Tucson, Channel 8 on Cox and Comcast and Channel 58 on Dish, DirecTV and broadcast. You can hear the show on KXCI, 91.3 FM, at 5 p.m. Sundays or watch it online at zonapolitics.com. This week's show features a preview of the Tucson Festival of Books with novelists Jennifer Lee Carroll, G. Davies Jandrey and Elizabeth Evans.

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