In an op-ed, Mayor Mila Besich of Superior, Arizona highlights the positive impacts President Biden’s legislative achievements have had on her community and the state as a whole.
While Republicans debated in Wisconsin last week about their plans to undo the President’s legislative achievements, the Biden administration was working to rebuild and strengthen communities like mine.
I watched the debate from my home in Superior, Arizona—a proud and historic copper mining town. My family first came here as immigrants to work in the booming industry. Across five generations, we have experienced ups and downs. My parents grew up during the good times, when high-paying jobs were abundant and services were well-funded by our government.
I grew up during the mining downturn. As more people left the community to find jobs elsewhere, local businesses, schools, and almost everything else felt the impact. Now, serving as the Mayor of Superior is a truly humbling experience. To be elected mayor in 2016 and see the impacts of a federal government investing in its people is amazing.
We have seen firsthand the benefits of President Biden’s American Rescue Plan (ARPA). Our town had the flexibility to apply funds to the unique needs of our community and recover more quickly from the pandemic.
When I became mayor, we had 20 years of deferred upgrades on our roads. I have frequently heard residents’ concerns about the state of our roads and infrastructure. Founded in 1882, some of the curbing in Superior is over 100 years old and quite literally crumbling. Inadequate infrastructure for roads along Queen Creek poses flooding risks that can delay first responders during emergencies.
Fortunately, the Biden administration, in coordination with a strong bipartisan working group that was led by Senator Kyrsten Sinema, made historic investments in infrastructure. And now states and localities are receiving long-overdue funding to upgrade our roads, bridges, and waterways. Because of this monumental legislation, Superior was awarded funding for a much-needed wastewater project that will bring public health and environmental benefits.
We will also benefit from the President’s investments in clean energy, electric vehicles, and semiconductor manufacturing that are bringing over a dozen major projects to Arizona and with them, thousands of new jobs.
The battery manufacturing plants coming to Tucson, Buckeye, and Queen Creek, EV manufacturing expansion in Casa Grande, and massive semiconductor fabs are all driving economic development in Superior.
The Biden administration’s work to bring jobs home is essential to our revitalization. The last component of this revitalization is approving the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the Resolution Copper Mine which would bring thousands of jobs to Superior and provide billions of dollars to the regional and Arizona economy while protecting our beautiful and fragile environment.
Copper is an essential component of electricity. As our country ramps up electrification, we will need copper. The Resolution copper mine in Superior has the capacity to provide 25% of the copper needed for the factories coming to Arizona. We have the opportunity to mine the ore for American copper and provide good-paying, union jobs with strong environmental and labor protections.
Copper mining is extractionary. As an Environmental Justice community, we understand this more than anyone. We are proud of the processes, checks and balances, and community input we’ve built over centuries of mining history to ensure our environment is protected. These goods have to come from somewhere, and we now know how fragile our supply chains are. Mining critical materials like copper here in America strengthens supply chains and keeps jobs in our community.
We’ve worked hard to attract people and jobs to the community. Nowadays, I see my children and their peers having good-paying, stable jobs in their hometown. This mining project would ensure that another generation will want to stay in Superior and be engaged in the community they grew up in.
While we still have work ahead, I didn’t see many solutions coming from the Republican debate stage. Rather, they jumped at the chance to undo the laws boosting my community and growing the middle class.