Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Congress: Don't give sacred Apache land to a mining company

Dear MoveOn member,

Congress is poised to hand sacred Apache land in Arizona's Tonto National Forest to the multinational mining company Rio Tinto, after Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake tucked the giveaway into a military spending bill last December. Both senators have close ties to Rio Tinto.1

The Apache have held gatherings and ceremonies on the land, called Oak Flat, since "well before recorded history."2 Rio Tinto plans to establish a massive copper mine there, using an underground version of open-pit mining that will devastate the land.

But we can still save Oak Flat, because the land transfer isn't yet final. Today, Apache leaders are in Washington, D.C., meeting with members of Congress and rallying outside the U.S. Capitol.

Can you call Representative Gregory Meeks now? Tell him: "Please cosponsor the Save Oak Flat Act to stop a foreign mining company from destroying sacred Apache land."

Here's where to call:

Representative Gregory Meeks
Phone: (202) 225-3461

Then, please report your call by clicking here:

The Save Oak Flat Act (H.R. 2811), sponsored by Arizona Representative Raul Grijalva, simply repeals the congressional giveaway.3

Senators McCain and Flake inserted it into the 1600-page military spending bill behind closed doors and literally in the dead of night, with the news leaking out just before midnight on the day before the vote. Senator McCain is the top congressional recipient of Rio Tinto campaign contributions, and Senator Flake used to be a paid lobbyist for the company.4

Between 2005 and 2011, bills allowing Rio Tinto to mine the federally protected land died in committee five times in the U.S. House of Representatives and six times in the U.S. Senate.5 The bills were going absolutely nowhere until Senators McCain and Flake bypassed the democratic process.

Oak Flat is now on the 2015 list of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places.6

Apache leaders have been fighting back and building increasing pressure on Congress to reverse the land giveaway. At the rally today in Washington, D.C., MoveOn will join with Avaaz and others to deliver 885,000 signatures demanding Congress return the land to the Apache people.

With Apache leaders in Washington only through the end of the day, now is the time to act. Please help right a terrible wrong by calling Rep. Meeks now at (202) 225-3461 to save Oak Flat from copper mining before it's too late.

Thanks for all you do.

–Maria, Erica, Milan, Corinne, and the rest of the team


1. "Selling Off Apache Holy Land," The New York Times, May 29, 2015

2. Ibid.

3. "Grijalva Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Repeal Giveaway of Sacred Arizona Native American Land to Multinational Mining Conglomerates," House Natural Resources Committee Democrats, June 17, 2015

4. "Rio Tinto Group, Profile for 2014 Cycle," Open

5. "In Arizona, a controversial federal land swap leaves Apaches in the lurch," Aljazeera America, February 20, 2015

6. "Grijalva's Save Oak Flat Bill Boosted by Historic Preservation Listing," Indian Country Today Media, July 20, 2015

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