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Public Statements

Southeast Arizona Land Exchange and Conservation Act of 2011

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. KILDEE. Mr. Chair, I rise today to express my outrage and disappointment about the bill before us, H.R. 1904.

In my 36 years in Congress I have seen many terrible bills, but this legislation stands out as among the worst. In one fell swoop, this legislation tramples on the rights of Indian tribes, damages our environment and cheats American taxpayers.

Mr. Chair, this legislation is, quite simply, a travesty. It authorizes a land exchange giving Resolution Copper, the subsidiary of two foreign companies, the right to mine potentially billions of dollars worth of copper from American land. In return, the American people receive nothing, except the loss of our resources and damage to our land.

My friends on the other side of the aisle like to talk local and state rights, yet this legislation completely ignores the rights and sovereignty of local Indian tribes. Mr. Chair, a large portion of the proposed mine is considered sacred to local Indians. Tribes, nations, pueblos and communities in Arizona, New Mexico, and across the country adamantly oppose this transfer; however, H.R. 1904 ignores these concerns, going so far as to waive federal statutes that require timely consultation with affected tribes. Resolution Copper claims that they can mine the land without disturbing these sites, a ridiculous assertion that is at best naive and at worst, an outright lie.

Mr. Chair, many of us have fought long and hard to protect Indian land and constitutionally retained rights. Over the years we have strived to improve the government to government relationship between the U.S. and Tribal Nations and I am proud of the progress we have made. For this legislation to turn over rights to sacred Indian lands to a foreign mining company, over the clear protests of Indian people is outrageous and would be a shameful step in the wrong direction for U.S.-Tribal relations.

We have no idea how the local environment and water resources would be affected, because no impact analysis would be done until after the transfer. Resolution Copper is estimating they will need as much water as the entire city of Tempe on a yearly basis. It does not take significant analysis to know that this could have potentially devastating impacts on local water resources.

And what does our country get in return for all of this damage? Nothing. Resolution Copper has estimated the mine to be worth several billions of dollars, yet H.R. 1904 does not require any royalties to be paid to the American taxpayer. Once they have taken our copper, it can be shipped overseas to be processed and utilized. First it was our jobs, now it's our natural resources. And there are no guarantees that there will be any significant local job impacts.

There are so many things wrong with this legislation that it is hard to even mention them all. It is a disgrace that we are debating this ill-conceived and destructive bill and I urge all my colleagues to vehemently oppose it.

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