Monday, Feb. 14, 2011 I took my 5-year-old granddaughter to the State Legislature to attend a hearing on Senate Bill 86 on eminent domain introduced by Senator Sheila Leslie. I read an article today published in the Las Vegas Sun that quoted mining lobbyist Jim Wadhams as referring to those who attended the meeting in favor of the bill as “eco terrorists” who “want to take a shot at mining because they don’t like them.” I was present and I am certain there was no “parade” of environmental groups. There were some professors of history, and some lawmakers. The closest thing I saw to a large group with common concerns were my neighbors, all local, hard working community members and property owners from all walks of life. I think there may have been one representative of an environmental group and another supporter from the Civil Liberties Union.
As for my self and my granddaughter, we are just people who live in the State of Nevada. I for one would like my peace, and my right to my hard earned property protected. My granddaughter’s handprints are in the foundation of our home and I would like to have my option to pass the property to her to be protected. I am not anti-mining. I am not anti-jobs from mining. I am however, pro-environment. I think that is a good thing. Is Jim Wadhams anti-environment? Is the mining industry he lobbies for anti -environment? I like to envision a mining industry thriving in Nevada that respects the rights of communities, private landowners, and the environment. That sounds socially responsible to me and a like a good neighbor. I ask Jim Wadhams if he can say that the mining industry is socially responsible and a good neighbor; and if so why is he so much on the defensive?
I also wanted to say a few words about the use of the “dire superlative” he used, the term “terrorists”. It looks like a terrorist hit Gold Hill in Storey County, Nevada. I don’t think that community is thriving from “thousands of jobs created” by the mining activity that left a giant gaping hole in the landscape and history. I don’t believe that Storey County realized meaningful tax revenue either.
It feels like terrorism to have a mining company working almost in your front yard, as I do here in Silver City, creating day in and day out noise and dirt and God only knows what kinds of toxins flying through the air onto my home and family. If feels like terrorism when there is an eminent domain threat of a mining company demanding your property that you have saved for, worked for, invested much money and very hard labor and hope in.
I am not a “terrorist.” I am a grandmother. I am a hard working American who literally does live on Main Street. I am a citizen who has worked damn hard for my home, for my American dream. I want to have my and my neighbors’ work, blood, sweat, dreams, and rights protected by the law and government that generations of my family, going back to the Revolutionary War, have fought for. I am the granddaughter, daughter, sister, and mother, the niece, cousin and aunt of many Veterans who have served and are currently serving to protect those rights.
My 5-year old-grand daughter is learning to say her pledge of allegiance. She is not a terrorist. She is the descendant of Native Americans and Veterans of wars. She wouldn’t understand why it could possibly be okay for a mining company to demand that her family leave her home. It just makes no sense to teach her about right and wrong, about respect and love for her country and heritage, and then to have to try to explain that a law to protect her family was lost because big mining companies had more money and therefore more political power to protect their interests then her Gramma had to protect ours.
From what I’ve heard, this project could literally wipe out one side of Silver City.
More from Business Week
SB86, sponsored by Sen. Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, would remove authorization for some private concerns to use eminent domain to acquire private property for mining and smelting.
Eminent domain should be reserved for promoting the greater community good and not the interests of private companies, Leslie said.
“This is not about the greater good but the private corporate interest,” she testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Nevada historian Guy Rocha, former state archivist, said the law dates to a time when mining was Nevada’s “paramount industry,” a distinction long lost.
It became an issue last summer when a Canadian-based mining concern settled with an Elko County rancher after the mining company cited the law in seeking access to mineral rights on ranch land.
Several residents of Silver City in the historic Comstock district said they feared the threat of eminent domain could be used against them in exploration currently under way near Virginia City southeast of Reno.
“The mining company has both deep pockets and the law on their side,” said Larry Wahrengrock.
Rocha said eminent domain was used against Comstock residents in the late 1970s to condemn private property for an open pit mine that’s now abandoned.