By Tony Davis

> > Arizona Daily Star


> Opponents of the proposed Rosemont Mine are asking the U.S. 

> District Court to grant an injunction stopping the federal 

> government from publishing a Draft Environmental Impact statement 

> on the mine.


> The motion from two environmental groups and the company that 

> operates the pecan groves in Sahuarita asked a federal judge to 

> hold a hearing and to order that the U.S. Forest Service include a 

> more balanced representation of all sides to the Rosemont dispute 

> when it holds future meetings of outside officials on the 

> environmental statement.


> The motion, filed this month, is the latest move in the legal case 

> over a series of 24 meetings that the Forest Service held from 2009 

> through 2010 with officials of Pima County, Arizona Game and Fish 

> Department and other cooperative agencies on the draft 

> environmental document.

The opponents have already filed suit against the Forest Service. 

> The latest motion is to seek an injunction to block the EIS from 

> being released until a trial can be held on the lawsuit’s merits. 

> The motion was filed by the Farmers Investment Co, Save the Scenic 

> Santa Ritas and the Center for Biological Diversiy.


> The U.S. Justice Department declined immediate comment on the 

> injunction request. It is due to reply to the motion on April 11, 

> and the Rosemont opponents are due to reply on April 26. However, 

> the district court hasn’t yet approved this schedule, said Charles 

> Miller, a Justice Department spokesman.


> The lawsuit charges that the Forest Service illegally ran these 

> meetings with Rosemont officials and consultants present at 19 of 

> them, but not any organized opponents of the mine. Such an action 

> violates the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), which requires 

> that advisory committee meetings be open to the public and that its 

> membership must balance all viewpoints on the mine, the lawsuit says.


> The federal law excludes advisory groups consisting only of 

> government officials and their representatives. But the injunction 

> requested cites a handbook written by the U.S. Council on 

> Environmental Quality that says the law applies when a group 

> including one or more non-government officials offers advice to a 

> lead agency on alternatives that should be included in an 

> environmental statement, the injunction request said.


> In a letter to the mine opponents on Jan. 14, Coronado National 

> Forest Supervisor Jim Upchurch wrote that the service doesn’t 

> consider the Rosemont committee an advisory group that is covered 

> by the FACA law. The main reason for Rosemont’s presence at the 

> meetings “has been and will be solely for the purpose of providing 

> and receiving relevant technical information about the project,” Upchurch wrote in that letter.