I was so excited yesterday. I always wanted a post that so few LGM readers cared about that it would get 0 comments and the podcast on the public lands was the winner. It’s striking to me how few people really care about these critical issues, whereas 30 years ago, this was the environmental issue, perhaps to the detriment of other issues. In any case, one of the starkest demonstrations of the difference between Republican and Democratic governance is who is prioritized on the public lands. And because this is federally controlled, big change can happen overnight.
The Biden administration has put the brakes on a controversial land exchange that would have given a sacred Native American site to a multinational mining company by March 11.
Parts of the handover had been rushed to completion in the waning days of the Trump administration, in an effort to give Resolution Copper control over Arizona’s Oak Flat region before or soon after Trump left office. Oak Flat sits atop one of the largest untapped copper deposits in the world, estimated to be worth more than $1 billion.
Now the government “has concluded that additional time is necessary to understand concerns raised by the Tribes and the public and the project’s impacts to these important resources,” according to a statement by the U.S. Forest Service, which is currently in charge of Oak Flat.
The agency also noted it was following a recent memorandum from Joe Biden encouraging tribal consultation on federal decisions and “strengthening nation to nation relationships.” The Forest Service estimated it would take “several months” to complete the consultations before the land transfer could possibly move forward.
Called Chi’chil Bildagoteel in Apache, Oak Flat is listed on the National Register of Historic Places for its spiritual and cultural significance to at least a dozen southwest Native American tribes. It contains hundreds of indigenous archaeological sites dating back 1,500 years.
“This is the right move,” said Terry Rambler, chairman of the San Carlos Apache Tribe. The government “failed to follow the law in the preparation of a sham environmental impact statement that was used to justify trading away our sacred land to wealthy foreign mining companies.”
Those who say that there’s really no difference between Democrats and Republicans neither know nor care about public lands or Native issues. But truthfully, not nearly enough liberals really care about these issues either and you all should be knowledgeable enough about them for blog comments.