Editorial: Land transfer a vital deal for Arizona

"It's time to take a step back, breathe deeply and focus clearly on what still remains a spectacular, if tricky, opportunity for Arizona, one that has been caught up - unfairly - in the web of U.S. Rep. Rick Renzi's troubles.

Resolution Copper Co. has proposed to extract ore from depths of 7,000 feet, an idea that has the potential of reviving mining's heyday in Superior and other nearby copper towns that fell on hard times.

This bold project promises an economic boom in this region over the next 25 years through 1,000 construction jobs and 400 to 600 high-paying mining jobs. It has the potential to serve everyone's interest, from the state to workers in Gila County to the San Carlos Apache Reservation, where unemployment seems a way of life.

With Renzi out of the picture, the legislation is a bill in search of a House sponsor to go along with the sponsor of the Senate version, Sen. Jon Kyl, a Republican. Our preference to pick up the pieces in the House would be Ed Pastor, a Democrat with the cachet to take control. He grew up in Miami. He knows the area and its needs. And the fact that he is the ranking Democrat in the Arizona delegation is a big plus.

There is another impending challenge: How to reach an accommodation with the San Carlos Apaches. Because there have been no face-to-face talks, Resolution unilaterally has taken steps to address what it believes are Apache priorities: sensitively managing the proposed conservation area for Apache Leap, an escarpment that rises above Superior and is sacred to the Apaches; access to oak trees at Oak Flat, where Apaches have traditionally picked acorns; and four environmental assessments and their mitigation, including the preservation of Apache cultural sites.

Do these satisfy Apache concerns? Only the Apaches know for sure. Though Resolution is prepared to go the distance to achieve consensus, there must be substantive back-and-forth communication. That hasn't happened."

Get the Story:
Land swap vital to state (The Arizona Republic 5/9)

Relevant Links:
Rep. Rick Renzi - http://www.house.gov/renzi

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