Center for Biological Diversity
A public opinion poll among likely Arizona voters found that 74% oppose the proposed Resolution Copper mine, which would destroy Oak Flat, a Native American sacred site located in the Tonto National Forest east of Phoenix.
“Arizonans understand how utterly destructive this mine would be to public lands, groundwater supplies and Native American sacred sites,” said Randi Spivak, public lands program director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Congress should protect this sacred place instead of doing favors for multinational mining companies looking to exploit our precious public lands.”
Opposition to the mine is strong across party lines, as well as among urban and rural residents. The poll, released yesterday, found that overall, 74% of respondents opposed the mine: 87% of Democrats, 81% of Independents and 56% of Republicans. Urban opposition was strongest, with 81% opposed, suburban voters at 76% and rural voters at 64%. Majorities across age, gender and ethnic lines strongly oppose the copper mine proposal, according to the poll.
The mine is also strongly opposed even after voters heard arguments supporting it. The survey, conducted August 18-27 by FM3 Research, polled 605 likely voters in Arizona. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4%.
Oak Flat has been protected since 1955, when President Eisenhower deemed this culturally significant area off limits to mineral development to preserve it in perpetuity. In 2014 Resolution Copper, owned by multinational mining companies Rio Tinto and BHP, secured a rider to the must-pass National Defense Authorization Act that overturned Oak Flat’s protected status and forced a land trade with the mining companies.
The Save Oak Flat Act, which awaits a House vote, would overturn that pending land swap and permanently protect Oak Flat.
The Resolution Copper mine would leave a crater 1.8 miles wide and 1,000 feet deep, destroying the site. The 1.4 billion tons of toxic waste the mine would produce would be dumped on thousands of acres of nearby wildlands, turning a vibrant landscape into an industrial wasteland and threatening to contaminate both ground and surface water.
More than 16,000 acres of wildlands would be destroyed, including habitat for hundreds of migratory birds and a diverse array of other species, some of them endangered. Hundreds of billions of gallons of water, enough to serve a city of 140,000 for 40 years, would be permanently removed from regional aquifers on which Arizona towns and farmers rely.
“Arizonans love the spectacular canyons, streams and deserts that make this state so beautiful,” said Spivak. “These voters aren’t fooled by false promises and spin doctors, and they don’t like politicians making backroom deals with special interests. They know what’s at stake at Oak Flat, and that’s why they overwhelmingly oppose this destructive mine.”
Destroying Oak Flat would deprive Western Apache, other tribes and future generations of tribal members from using the area for ceremony, healing and sustenance as they have for centuries. It would violate the federal government’s trust responsibilities to tribes.
About the Center for Biological Diversity
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.