Great Idea, Lousy Timing

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Quick question: How long can you tread water?

The question arose after we learned that the House has finally adopted a measure authorizing the swap of 5,000 acres of environmentally sensitive land throughout the state for the rights to mine one of the biggest deposits of copper in the world near Superior.

Resolution Copper hopes the land exchange will allow it to use deep-mining techniques to exploit copper deposits worth an estimated $60 billion, enough to supply 25 percent of the nation’s need for this strategic metal and to inject $1 billion annually into the state’s economy.

The international Resolution Copper mining company says the operation will produce 3,700 jobs — although that number is in dispute.

The House approved the land swap, after it rejected a couple of useful amendments that would have considered ways to protect sites sacred to the Apache, protected groundwater supplies and ensured that the mine hired workers locally when possible.

But never mind that for now: Clearly, the nation’s economy depends on an affordable supply of copper. Clearly, the region desperately needs the jobs and revenue the mines will bring. Clearly, the land swap will yield tremendous benefits.

Makes all the sense in the world: Sort of like swapping a patch of unremarkable Forest Service land owned by the taxpayers so taxpayers can reap the enormous benefits of building a university in Payson. How long has that taken? Four years and counting?

So we ask again: How long can you tread water?

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