With all eyes trained on the fight over government spending and Obamacare, the House is scheduled to take up a non-controversial land-swap bill that would trade 2000 acres of federal land in Arizona for 5000 acres of pristine land owned by Resolution Copper mine.
The bill has bipartisan support and should it be enacted, it is estimated that nearly 4,000 jobs will be created in the area. Radical environmentalists of course oppose this swap and have joined with local tribes to offer an amendment to the swap bill that, if adopted, would become the environmentalists’ most powerful tool to kill economic development throughout the nation.
Rep. Ben Lujan (D-NM) has promised to offer an amendment to the legislation that would empower the Secretary of Interior to override existing laws that protect tribal sacred sites and designate land as an Indian “cultural site.” Such a designation would kill the mine project, its 4,000 jobs and serve as a model to kill other projects. Federal law already protects Native America “sacred” land.
So, what is a “cultural” site? No one knows for sure. Proponents of the Lujan Amendment argue that any land where Native Americans have prayed and gathered is enough to trigger the designation. Is there any land in the United States that does not meet that threshold?