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State Takes Charge of Rosemont County Air Permit; ADEQ Removes Pima County from Process

By Tony Davis for Arizona Daily Star

Photo Credit: Kelly Presnell/ Arizona Daily Star

The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality’s proposed approval of the Rosemont Mine air quality permit and removed Pima County from its most important role reviewing the mine.

ADEQ will hold public hearings in September and October and decide by mid-February.

The agency’s officials wrote county officials Friday that they are providing “regulatory certainty” for the permitting, which has lasted well over a year and drawn two Rosemont lawsuits against the county. The mining company appealed last year to the state to take the permitting process over, on the grounds that the state, not the county, has legal jurisdiction.

The state’s proposed permit contains several measures that are stricter than the county originally proposed in 2011, Darwin wrote. Those measures will ensure the mine’s emissions meet federal, state and local requirements, he wrote to Ursula Kramer, director of the County Department of Environmental Quality.

Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry accused the state of trying to put Rosemont’s approval “on a fast track,” since the state only this week posted a public notice about the permit and will start taking comments on Monday. He also said Rosemont is responsible for the uncertainty because its original permit application lacked needed technical information and detailed computer-based studies of air emissions.

ADEQ said its move to take over the permit stems from a Pima County Superior Court judge’s July 5 (AZBEX, July 13) ruling that the county’s denial of the permit was “arbitrary and capricious.” The judge didn’t order the county to issue a permit, but did order it to take more information from the company on what legal requirements Rosemont Copper must meet.

“The judge acknowledged the submission was incomplete because his ruling allowed Rosemont to supplement their application and provide the missing information,” Huckelberry wrote Friday in an email to the Star. The county also recently issued permits for the Marana Landfill and the Oracle Ridge Mine in very short time frames and with both regulatory certainty and clarity, he said.

Read more at AZStarNet