Public's Best Interest, Disinterested Public
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
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
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
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
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
Marita Noon is the executive director of CARE, the
nonprofit organization that is advocating for your right to use energy as you
see fit and as you can afford. CARE is working on your behalf to educate the
public and influence policy makers regarding energy, its role in freedom and
the American way of life. Find out more at www.responsiblenergy.org.
TRA feature has been edited in accordance with TRA Statement
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