It looks as if Augusta Resource Corporation—the Canadian company behind Rosemont Copper—has run into another snag in its plan to build a massive copper mine in the Santa Rita Mountains.
The Environmental Protection Agency sent a letter earlier this month to the Army Corps of Engineers, letting the federal agency know about concerns that Rosemont Copper's mining plans could disturb the watershed connected to Davidson Canyon and Cienega Creek—which have been identified as "aquatic resources of national importance."
"EPA is concerned that substantial loss and/or degradation of water quality and other aquatic ecosystem functions is likely if this 4,200-acre mine is constructed and operated as proposed," wrote Alexis Strauss, director of the EPA's Region IX Water Division. "Davidson Canyon Wash is a rare, spring-fed, low elevation level desert stream supporting a wide variety of rare flora and fauna. Seven federally listed endangered or threatened species occur within or adjacent to the project area to which adverse impacts are reasonably foreseeable."
Endangered species? Well, that's not good news for any plans to build a 4,200-acre mine.
The EPA's interest means that Rosemont Copper might have trouble getting a 404 permit, which is vital to the operation of the mine.
So even as the U.S. Forest Service wraps up its public-comment period and possibly moves to issue a permit that would allow Rosemont Copper to dump tailings on public lands, more trouble is brewing for the project.
State lawmaker Vic Williams made it official last week: He filed for a run for the Pima County Board of Supervisors.
Williams hopes to replace retiring Supervisor Ann Day in District 1, which includes the Catalina Foothills, Oro Valley and Marana.
Williams says he wants to bring more transparency to Pima County government and "instill some of the values we have in northwest Pima County" across the rest of the region. He also wants to get a tighter leash on Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry—"the county administrator is setting policy because the county supervisors are not being out in front on issues," he says—and plans to fight to get the controversial Rosemont Mine open in the Santa Rita Mountains.
Williams, who has been in the Arizona House of Representatives since 2008, is walking into a crowded August primary. The race already includes former GOP national committeeman and state party chairman Mike Hellon, Tea Party activist Ally Miller and Stuart McDaniel, another conservative Republican who picked up the endorsement of Congressman Trent Franks last week.
The only Democrat in the race, Nancy Young Wright, knows Williams very well—they both represented Legislative District 26 in the Arizona House of Representatives until Wright lost her seat to Republican Terri Proud in 2010.
CANDIDATES A GO-GO
An addendum to our story last week previewing the upcoming legislative races ("In the Works," Jan. 19): Democrats are planning on fielding a full slate of candidates in the new Legislative District 14, which covers the southeast corner of the state, including all of Cochise and Greenlee counties, most of Graham County, and a sliver of the east side of Pima County, including Vail, Summerhaven and the eastern edge of Tucson's city limits.
Democrat Pat Fleming, who has previously represented much of the area in the Arizona House of Representatives, is now running for the Senate.
Two other political newcomers, Robert Leach and Mark Stonebraker, are planning runs for the House of Representatives.
Republicans hold a 10-percentage-point advantage in voter registration in the district, where Sen. Gail Griffin and Reps. David Stevens and David Gowan are expected to seek re-election.
PROJECT WHITE HOUSE: THE BEER SUMMIT
We had originally planned to bring you profiles of all the presidential candidates who are participating in the Tucson Weekly's Project White House 2012 reality-journalism competition in this issue, but we're delaying that feature by a week.
However, if you're dying to learn about the many candidates who are competing to win the Weekly's endorsement in the Feb. 28 presidential primary, you can stop by ProjectWhiteHouse2012.com to learn more about their plans for fixing America.
Here's an interesting proposal, for example, from Green Party presidential candidate Richard Grayson: He wants to deport Republicans from today's United States.
Grayson says he doesn't want to completely deport them from America; instead, he wants to do "a crash program, a kind of Manhattan Project, to get our most brilliant scientists to create a viable way to send people back into the past. Time travel will allow me to deport the Republicans to what is, indeed, American soil—but they'd be deported back to the 18th century!"
Grayson is convinced that offered the opportunity, the Republicans would "self-deport" to the 1700s.
"After all, the fashion-challenged angry old white people of the Tea Party already love to gallivant around in colonial garb," he says. "They'd have a place where they could strut in their three-cornered hats and white leggings and not look ridiculously out of place."
Grayson sees an obvious upside for today's GOP: "In the 18th century, Republicans could live in an America where minorities did not have equal rights (African Americans were slaves; Native Americans were massacred); where abortion and homosexuality were, if they ever occurred, punishable by death; where there was no ACLU, no Planned Parenthood, no labor unions, no minimum wage, no 'entitlements,' no food stamps, no 'safety net,' no ethnic studies, no Lady Gaga, no hip-hop, and few if any vegans, hippies, hipsters, atheists, environmentalists, Darwinists or alternative weeklies.
"Everyone would be better off," Grayson concludes. "The Republicans would be much happier living in the past. In the 1700s, they'd be up-to-date rather than throwbacks to a previous era, constantly trying to undo the New Deal and the science of the past two centuries. Instead of longing for a bygone America, they'd be living in a place they'd rather be: a bygone America."
But fellow Green Party candidate Michael Oatman warns that dire consequences could result from toying with the time-space continuum.
"Please be sure to deport them to a parallel universe, since, if left in our universe, they undoubtedly would, with their knowledge of the future, attempt to win the Civil War for the South, prevent Andrew Jackson from ridding us of all international banking, stop Teddy Roosevelt from monopoly-busting, prevent the New Deal, tell Nixon to wear a darker color in the 1960 televised presidential debate, and (do) many other things which could negatively affect the outcome of this universe," Oatman writes in response to Grayson's proposal.
You can see that we're having some pretty fiery exchanges about the issues that matter most to Americans—just like the real Republican debates these days.
A chance to meet some of these candidates is coming up. We're excited to announce that we are having the first Project White House Beer Summit from 4 to 6 p.m., next Wednesday, Feb. 1, at downtown's newest brewery, Borderlands Brewing Company, 119 E. Toole Ave. Stop by to meet the candidates, and try some cold, freshly brewed craft beer!
We hope to bring you some big news soon about televised Project White House 2012 debates!