Public's Best Interest, Disinterested Public

Marita Noon
Issue CXCVIII - June 27, 2009
Recommend this page.
A sample image

June 5, 2009 was the culmination of a seventeen-month battle for Mount Taylor where the decision to make the temporary Traditional Cultural Property designation (TCP) permanent was announced—New Mexico’s 1 million acre land grab.

 An opponent to the decision said, “I could hear the jobs, stability, and growth in our community suck right out of our town as the vote was cast. Corporate dollars will be spent in other communities where progress is encouraged and growth is a way of life.”

 The television news cameras were all there to record the contentious decision. While I gave my comments to ABC news, locals stood behind the cameras and mouthed “thank you.” A documentary news crew, who sought out my thoughts following the meeting, asked if I’d been out to the reservation to talk to the people. “No, I have not because this is not about reservation land. This is about a mix of state, federal and private land.” They were surprised with this information. They’d not done research and just believed what they’d heard.

Others have questioned, “How can this happen?” or “How is this in the best interest of the public?”

 The sad truth is the decision is not in the public’s best interest as the jobs and uranium would have been a major asset to both New Mexico and America. It can happen because the public wasn’t interested. Few general citizens even know what took place and most who do know, found out about it through reporting after the fact. Most of us sat it out while the proponents pushed hard to get it through. The local citizens in Grants, the attorneys representing the locals and small mining companies, and a couple special interest groups (like CARE) were not enough to stop the wave of political correctness.

Why should the public be interested? Why would people not in Grants and not in mining even care?

The Mount Taylor TCP decision has far-reaching ramifications. The nomination had many technical and procedural flaws as noted by New Mexico’s Secretary of Cultural Affairs Stuart Ashman in his presentation to the committee on May 15--but it was unanimously passed. While it was repeatedly stated throughout the multi-month process that private property was “non-contributing,” at the eleventh hour, the Historic Preservation Officer, Katherine Slick, did acknowledge that it will impact private property owners. And, it will hurt the economy and take money out of America. An international partner in a mining project is now expected to pull out. Potential mining projects will be delayed and have increased costs. Many will never happen. Some companies have already given up and pulled out—giving environmental extremists another victory.

 These consequences are troubling, but at first-glance, they do not seem to have a “far-reaching” impact. Yet, this was not just about the five nominating tribes. Environmental groups have participated in the TCP nomination. You can be sure that they have been watching this battle closely. As the largest TCP in the Continental United States by far, it sets precedent and gives courage to mineral resource development opponents to repeat the process throughout the country. There are already rumors of beginning a similar land grab over the Zuni Mountains.

They can do this because those of us who value free-market principles, believe in private property rights, and support energy freedom were sleeping—and we’ve been asleep a long time. Meanwhile, those who think America should be more socialist have been working hard to push their agenda. They have been on the offense because they wanted change. We have the world we like, so we have been happily going about our business, oblivious to what is going on around us with only a few defensive efforts.

We can make a difference. We can wake up and get involved. The release from the New Mexico Historic Preservation Division stated that they’d received approximately 2,000 letters and e-mails addressing the Mount Taylor nomination that supported the TCP by a 4-1 ratio. I believe the ratio could have been reversed, but those of us who have what we want have been asleep while those who want a different life have been busy.

Choose free-market principles, private property rights, and energy freedom by waking up and getting involved. If you do not, don’t complain when you wake up one day and find the world you thought you lived in no longer exists. Don’t ask, “How could they do this?” It happened while you were sleeping.

Recommend this page.

This TRA feature has been edited in accordance with TRA Statement of Policy.

Click here to return to TRA's Issue CXCVIII Index.

Learn about Mr. Stolyarov's novel, Eden against the Colossus, here.

Read Mr. Stolyarov's new comprehensive treatise, A Rational Cosmology, explicating such terms as the universe, matter, space, time, sound, light, life, consciousness, and volition, here.

Read Mr. Stolyarov's new four-act play, Implied Consent, a futuristic intellectual drama on the sanctity of human life, here.