Arizona Strip Mining

BLM Road 5, one of the main roads into the Ari...

BLM Road 5, one of the few roads into the Arizona Strip Image via Wikipedia

It has been called the most desolate piece of real estate in the lower forty eight, home to the desert tortoise, the Mojave green rattlesnake and a rare form of bighorn sheep. A Mojave Desert type of ecosystem allows the proliferation of Joshua Trees rather than the familiar Saguaro Cactus seen in the Sonoran Desert. This is the Arizona Strip, the massive wilderness separating the Grand Canyon from Utah. It is also home to ranching families who belong to the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints. These are people who have chosen to live in an unforgiving, desolate landscape because they value their privacy and wish to opt out of mainstream America. The Fundamentalist LDS broke off from the mainstream Mormon Church decades ago, and the people live a life as disparate from modern American society as that of the Amish.

Their simple lifestyle, unique spirituality and sense of community may be about to change, if Congressmen Paul Gossar, Jeff Flake, Trent Franks, Ben Quayle, and David Schweikert are successful in bringing uranium mining to the area. They are joined in their efforts, of course, by Senators John McCain and Jon Kyl. None of these men actually live in the Strip. It is reasonable to believe that none of them have ever been there. Only a couple of them even represent it, but they each stand to make mega millions if their scheme is carried to fruition.

The Metropolitan Water District of Los Angeles and the Southern Nevada Water Authority have already voiced serious concerns about contamination of the entire Colorado River if uranium mining is permitted in areas surrounding the Grand Canyon. The Arizona Strip borders the Grand Canyon from the north. Where do these Arizona Senators and Arizona Congressmen intend to live, once the Southwest has been destroyed? It is, after all, their environment, too!

Isolation, freedom to practice their unique religion without prejudice, and a distinct rural lifestyle free from violence, drugs, and alcohol, with only the sound of very occasional birdsongs and the chatter of insects will be replaced by the noise of heavy machinery with diesel smoke and frequent clouds of wind blown dust, intolerance of the Fundamentalist LDS faith and lifestyle, drugs and alcohol usage, and the invasion of strangers. The heretofore peaceful ranching life will also welcome a new disease: cancer. The result of uranium mining on the Navajo Nation is a seventy year history of rising, ponderous cancer and leukemia rates in a population who, prior to World War II, had little or no knowledge of these maladies. Rep. David Schweikert said a ban on new uranium mining in Northern Arizona was based on “policy by folklore” and “would open the doors for the next round of battles” on land-use issues. Mr. Schweikert is a developer from Scottsdale.

Paul Gosar talks about the benefits of increased employment in the area, but, for whom? Contracts for uranium mining have already been awarded to two foreign firms, one Canadian, the other British. Gosar states, “I’ve visited the mining operations, (and) I’ve seen the construction of these mines…. Mining isn’t the same as it was in the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s.”  The question must be asked, “If mining is such skilled labour, so high tech, shouldn’t it be incumbent upon these companies to supply their own experienced skilled labour to carry out these delicate and potentially devastating operations?” If both of the companies awarded the contracts are foreign, that means increased work opportunities to foreign countries, not to local Americans. Besides, does a rancher really want to become a miner?

Jeff Flake is a member of an old Arizona pioneer Mormon family. The town of Snowflake is named for two families, ‘Snow’ and ‘Flake’. Shouldn’t he have a bit more consideration for, a bit more loyalty to, people of his own faith, perhaps even his relations, than to support such a potentially hazardous measure? The addition of Congressmen Franks and Quayle, with Senators McCain and Kyl, to the team allows for a full court press supporting an unheard of rape of the land in exchange for filthy lucre. The willful poisoning of millions of citizens and the annihilation of a pristine environment for monetary gain must be considered an act of war against the United States. Treason consists of levying war against the United States, or in adhering to its enemies, giving aid to them. Aiding foreign corporations contemplating this act is treason.  Any politician who willfully encourages uranium mining in the Arizona Strip should be tried for treason, as should their accomplices.

 

 

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About Stefan Jacke

MagicRobert presented me with a vellum document, composed in an insane script. We were in a well secured vault in the Michener Library. His face exploded into a broad smile, as he saw me recognize the words, "That government governs best which governs least." It was a copy of "On Civil Disobedience" in the author's own hand. The experience called to mind a conversation Henry David Thoreau had with Ralph Waldo Emerson, as Thoreau sat in a jail cell, incarcerated for protesting the Mexican War. Emerson asked, "David, what are you doing in there?" Thoreau responded, "The point is, Ralph, what are you doing out there?" Once, long ago, I jumped off of big red trucks, lifted weights, and cleaned toilets for a living. Then I wrestled drunks, ran around in circles, and got splattered with blood and all manner of body fluids for a living. Now I enjoy the stillness of early morning in my rocking chair on the porch, with a hot cup of coffee, trying in vain to forget the past. Thank you, Robert!
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