Washington, D.C. is the capital of the United States of America. The Save Oak Flat Act was presented to the public by Chair Raul M. Grijalva (D-Arizona) to effectively preserve the Oak Flat section of Tonto National Forest against destructive mining proposals.
Several tribes think Oak Flat is sacred, particularly the San Carlos Apache Tribe, which has fought a years-long campaign to prevent its extraction by Settlement Copper, managed by international mining companies BHP and Rio Tinto.
A significant number of organizations, notably the San Carlos Apache, endorse Grijalva’s proposal. The Today Show featured a segment on the subject. In recent weeks, the problem has gotten increasing attention. The Biden administration canceled an environmental impact statement that had been released in the last hours of the previous administration. It would have finalized a land swap between Tonto National Forest and Resolution Copper, enabling the project forward.
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On February 19, Chair Grijalva and partners wrote to acting Department of Agriculture Kevin Shea, requesting that the paper be reconsidered due to its hurried timing and political character. Since the inclusion of an unrelated clause in the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act requiring the government to transfer 2,422 acres of Tonto National Forest property to Resolution Copper in exchange for less valuable land elsewhere, Grijalva has been at the forefront of the issue.
Grijalva said today, “The San Carlos Apache never requested for this land to become a political matter, but this is not a struggle we’re going to be losing.” “I will seek to push this law ahead, to assure that this property is protected, and to prove that you do not have the right to attack Local American people plainly to make a profit. The Biden committee did its duty by withdrawing the Trump administration’s politically driven analysis, and so that we can go ahead in a more rational manner, this property will be protected indeterminately.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the sponsor of the Senate identical measure, stated, “Too many times, our Native American brothers and sisters have seen the profitability of major businesses placed before their sovereign rights.” “It is outrageous that a Washington backroom agreement may result in the ruin of a holy place that is so essential to so many individuals. Hundreds and thousands of Americans are rejecting this transfer of our natural resources to foreign companies, and we must defend them.”
To increase awareness of the issue, the Committee conducted an oversight conference on March 12, 2020, headlined The Irreparable Environmental and Cultural Impacts of the Proposed Resolution Copper Mining Operation. The Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on the proposed measure in the coming years.