By Mila Besich-Lira
On Friday, only days after being sworn into the 113th Congress in Washington D.C., Representative Ann Kirkpatrick made her first official in district visit to Superior. During her visit she met with officials and local employees from Resolution Copper. Following her tour and meeting she met with local community leaders and constituents.
Kirkpatrick explained that this was her first official Congressional visit in the district and it was her top priority to visit with officials and employees of Resolution Copper after the news of the layoffs from the Project. She explained that she fully supports the project and will be working with the entire Arizona delegation and Resolution Copper to get the land exchange legislation moving forward once again.
Attending with the Congresswoman was her district director Ron Lee and staff member Carmen Casillas. Casillas is resident of Globe and will be assisting Kirkpatrick on issues in the Copper Corridor including the Resolution Copper project.
“Representative Kirkpatrick has offered some key points of support for the project including working on legislation and communicating with the San Carlos Apache Tribe,” explained Andrew Taplin, the Project Director for Resolution Copper. Company officials explained that they would be working with Rep. Kirkpatrick’s office on introducing new legislation.
Resolution Copper and local community leaders have been working since 2005 to approve the legislation through congress. There have been 11 versions of the bill introduced. In 2010, Kirkpatrick introduced the Copper Basin Jobs Act which would have approved the necessary land exchange and included many additional environmental protections that the other versions did not have. In 2010, Rep. Gosar introduced legislation into the house and the bill was approved in the house but died in the final hours of the 112th Congress last month.
The land exchange legislation will allow the company to exchange 2,400 acres of forest service land where the copper deposits rest in exchange for 5,300 acres of high quality conservation lands. The land exchange will allow the company to consolidate their areas of operation. The company says it will invest $6 billion into the construction of the project. When the layoffs were announced, the company said they had already invested $1 billion into the project.
The proposed land exchange by Resolution Copper continues to be opposed by native American groups including the San Carlos Indian Tribes, Earthworks and the Retired Miners and Concerned Citizens Coalition.