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Environmental regulations and sustainable mining in the semi-arid American southwest: perspectives from the National Environmental Protection Act process for the Rosemont mine project (Arizona)

Le Gouill, Claude, Boyer, Anne-Lise, Poupeau, Franck, Razafimahefa, Lala
Regional environmental change 2019 v.19 no.2 pp. 501-513
case studies, citizen participation, correspondence analysis, environmental law, environmental protection, lifestyle, mining, natural resources conservation, politics, professionals, stakeholders, Arizona
Based on the case study of the Rosemont mine project in Southern Arizona, this paper explores the links between environmental regulations—the public response—and sustainable mining—the private response for balancing growth and environmental conservation. Since the 1990s, public participation in environmental issues has been promoted and is at the core of both public and private responses to environmental debates. We therefore analyze the public comments produced during the National Environmental Protection Act process which conditions the opening of the Rosemont mine. We ran a multiple correspondence analysis to determine who are the stakeholders involved in the definition of environmental regulations and sustainable mining and what their positions in the social spaces are. The results show a prominent role of science and expertise in the process which lead to the professionalization of the environmental debate; among those professionals, we can distinguish two groups that tend to shape Arizona political chessboard, pro-growth and anti-growth, but even though they failed to set up a compromise either through environmental regulations or sustainable mining, they seem to share a common vision of nature: a nature to domesticate—whether through productive or recreational activities—and the sharing vision of the American southwest desert and its specific lifestyle.