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The Battle Over Oak Flat: Indigenous Rights vs. Copper Mining

Summary

In a recent Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision, the construction of a copper mine in Arizona, situated on land sacred to the San Carlos Apache Tribe and other Indigenous nations, was not halted. Despite objections from Indigenous groups like Apache Stronghold, the mine, operated by Resolution Copper, a subsidiary of Rio Tinto and BHP, is poised to leave a substantial environmental impact, including a crater nearly 1,000 feet deep and 2 miles wide. The dispute underscores a clash between religious freedoms, Indigenous rights, and the pressing global need for copper to support green energy initiatives. The case may ultimately reach the Supreme Court, where the interpretation of religious freedom laws like the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) could profoundly influence the outcome.

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