Farming in Callao

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Who are we opposing?

We in Snake Valley, and Utah in general, are opposed to the water exportation scheme proposed by SNWA. We do not think the science is adequate to make decisions that could cause permanent damage to the environment of rural Utah and Nevada. Once the water starts flowing south it will be very difficult, if not impossible, to stop the flow -- regardless of impacts.

We are in conflict with the deep-pocketed and powerful gaming and land development industries.

We are not in conflict with common citizens of Las Vegas and southern Nevada. Public opinion polls in Las Vegas indicate people there are fed up with the side effects of out-of-control growth feeding the need for more and more resources and resulting in congestion, pollution, crime, illegal immigration, overcrowded schools. We have heard from many Las Vegans who do not want to pursue water from rural Nevada and Utah. A common theme is, enough is enough.

The gaming industry (an oxymoron?) wants more "suckers" to stream through their doors. A recent news story in Las Vegas reported one casino is making a sub-par 20% return on investment (ROI) and wondered how long they could possibly stay in business at that paltry rate. Most casinos rake in much more. The odds are with the house, as they say in Vegas, and what goes to Vegas truly stays there (in the vaults). The more people they can run through the system the higher the ROI. But more customers equates to more casinos which equates to more casino workers which equates to more houses, more congestion, more pollution, more crime, and more water usage.

The average Las Vegan thinks differently than the Vegas elite. In a recent documentary on Discovery Channel, a casino executive said (overlaying a bumper-to-bumper shot of the Strip) "We love congestion. It means people are here and on the move, looking for fun and excitement." Ask the average Las Vegan about congestion and you will be faced with a very frustrated person.

Dire warnings are trotted out every time something looks like it could stand in the way of bringing in more gamblers. Pat Mulroy, SNWA chief, said recently if their water rights are not approved Nevada might as well shut its doors now -- the party will be over. They won't have to wait until 2013, when Nevada's share of the Colorado River may be exhausted. Once word is out that growth might stall, New York bankers will start pulling the plug on Las Vegas. Or so the party line goes. Similar frightening predictions, of fabricated drought, were made prior to Los Angeles' draining of Owens Valley.

Governor Huntsman is to be commended as a man of integrity who speaks his mind plainly and clearly. In KUED's recent documentary, "Desert Wars - Water in the West," he answered a question commonly asked in conflicts like this: should the few sacrifice for the many? (Similar arguments were made prior to Los Angeles' draining of Owens Valley.) He said,

"I think that's a disingenuous argument. We have a way of life that ought to be protected. People have invested their livelihoods in their way of life for generations and I wouldn't want to be the arrogant one who comes along saying that their lifestyle is now anachronistic and we've got to feed the burgeoning casino and hotel business just south of them... for heaven's sake if that's where our country is going in terms of public policy, then you can expect and outbreak of civil war at some point."

Boy does he have them pegged: the arrogant ones. Let's fleece as many suckers as possible. Only let's call it something else; let's call it entertainment; let's call it Nevada's economic engine. Who cares if the majority of people on either end of the proposed pipeline don't want it. Who cares there is a minimum of science to say it is safe, let's risk permanent environmental damage; let's call that "adaptive management."

We are not in conflict with our neighboring citizens. We are in conflict with the well-heeled and greedy, who care only about their own interests.

Read all the governor's interview.

Send the governor a thank you for standing with us.

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