As one of the individuals who is involved in opposing the construction of Liberty Quarry, I would like to thank Temecula Patch for helping to publicize our collective efforts at protecting all which is at risk.
Once we have stopped Liberty Quarry, it will be important for each friend of the project to continue their efforts to protect the river and the land and to make this protection permanent for future generations.
Electronic signing of the petition to support AB 742 goes to the attention of selected members of the California State Assembly and Senate, as well as to the Governor.
The City of Temecula has been opposing the quarry since at least 2005. On March 8, 2011 the City Council of the City of Temecula passed Resolution No. 11 formally opposing the Liberty Quarry project.
After having spent $784,000 to annex property and debunk the Granite-funded Environmental Impact Report, the City of Temecula was unable to dissuade Granite Construction Corporation from pursuing their objective.
It was on August 4, 2011 -after the failure of every conceivable course of action by the community and local government to stop Granite had been exhausted – that the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians came forward with the decades overdue AB 742.
It is important that elected representatives, Granite’s management, members of the media, and any interested individual, know and understand that both Native and non-Native Americans are intractably opposed to a gravel pit -by any name- on this land.
The quarry would destroy the LAST wild river and LAST coastal wildlife corridor in Southern California. The fact that it contains sites which are sacred to a people who have lived here for 10,000 years is something we can all understand.
Let your elected representatives know that you Support AB 742
Granite Construction Corporation’s (Granite) recently presented Environmental Impact Report (EIR) referencing their proposed Liberty Quarry project has by definition been funded by an 89-year old member of a gross polluting industry.
Granite has been generating EIR for years. A good deal of their research has been funded by other polluting industries.
In this most recent study, through omission the authors claim that Americans do not put any value on things like having parks to walk in, breathing unpolluted air, drinking safe water, or avoiding getting sick. Of course, the paper doesn’t state it quite like that. What it says is academic-sounding, inside-baseball stuff. It claims that the Environmental Protection Agency got it all wrong in a recent analysis that found true value from less pollution. Why? Because, the authors say, you can’t put a dollar figure on the benefit of less pollution.
This assertion is not only wrong. It is Earth-is-flat fraudulent.
It ignores something what we all know: people value a lot of things that you can’t put a dollar figure on. Something that economics references as “well-being.” In doing this, the paper helps give academic-sounding cover to those who would remove hard-won safeguards which help keep Americans safe and healthy.
By challenging the way the American government calculates benefits to its citizens – i.e. the work of scientists and experts whose duty is to keep Americans’ health and environment safe – the paper is serves economic interests of factories, oil companies and others who don’t like to be held accountable for the pollution they release into our air.
There are many other troubling issues in the paper. It ignores, for instance, the fact that the government’s calculations have been peer-reviewed; not based on ideological hyperbole. It also fails to account for the savings generated when people don’t have to be paid damages after getting sick from pollution. It also leaves out that its authors have long been paid by gross polluting industries.
But it’s the way the paper fits into the broader undermining of American values that’s most troubling.
It is, in fact, just one of many signs of the growing movement against government safeguards. That movement taps into the American spirit of the frontier and a yearning for independence. The movement discounts the fact that a free, functioning society is a society where laws – and yes, government – protect basic privileges which we take for granted. These includes everything from roads that are safe to drive on, lakes that are clean enough to swim in, air that is healthy to breathe, and rivers that do not catch on fire.
A paper like the one put out by National Economic Research Associates not only disregards the value of these government services. It also tries to give a veneer of credibility to those who would undermine so many things Americans cherish. It is time to pull back the curtain and reveal the polluter-funded pseudo-economists for what they really are: anti-regulatory advocates, not independent academics.
PETITION TO SUPPORT AB 742: PROTECT SACRED SITES OF THE PENCHANGA BAND OF LUISENO INDIANS:
August 15, 2011
California State Assembly Members and Senators
Sacramento, CA 95814
Re: SUPPORT for AB 742 (B. Lowenthal)
Dear Assembly Member and Senator:
I write today to ask you to support AB 742 (B. Lowenthal). AB 742 is an important measure which would provide greater protection for Native American sacred sites by adding aggregate operations to the list of mining activities prohibited near such sites; specifically the project which threatens the creation place of the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians. This legislation will also help to protect the Santa Margarita River, the 4,500 acre Santa Margarita Ecological Preserve of San Diego State University, and the Quality of Life for residents in the communities of Temecula, Murrieta, Fallbrook and Rainbow.
This specific article of legislation will not affect mining anywhere else in the state.
Granite Construction Company has applied to the County of Riverside for a Surface Mining Permit to produce 5 million tons aggregate (crushed rock) per year from the proposed Liberty Quarry. The proposed quarry would have a working surface area equivalent to 17 football fields and a depth twenty feet less than the Empire State Building is tall. This would be one of the largest open-pit hard rock mines in the United States and it would also be located at the Pechanga and Luiseño Place of Creation.
The referenced site, while critical to the Pechanga and the Luiseño, is important to the people of the Temecula Valley. Tourism is a critical element in the Temecula Valley, employing 6,600 people directly, providing services to 67,000 visitors per month with an estimated annual impact of 605 million dollars per year. A recent report by the Rose Institute of Claremont McKenna College estimated a negative impact of a minimal impact on tourism of 60.5 million dollars. When considering all costs, the Rose Institute estimated an annual cost to the community of over 80 million dollars. While the quarry might create 99 new jobs, it would destroy at least 660 existing jobs in the tourism industry alone.
It is because of these potential impacts as well as impacts on air quality, water quality and traffic, and the loss of the only remaining wildlife linkage between the Santa Ana mountains and inland mountain ranges, that over 30,000 valley residents have signed petitions seeking to prevent the quarry. In addition, over 520 Businesses and Non-Government Organizations have signed up opposing the quarry. These businesses are joined by 159 local physicians opposing the quarry.
The proposed “Liberty Quarry” project would mark the end of the LAST wild river of Southern California and with it the region’s LAST wildlife corridor between the coastal Santa Ana Mountains and inland Palomar Mountains. Granite Construction’s project would degrade this LAST section of living, vital land., which is filled with the living history of the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians. The area of living earth which Granite has targeted for destruction is part of a greater area which is replete with all the plant and animal life unique to our area. Destruction of the living earth for the sake of profit is easy, and also forever.
Stewardship of this unique gift of a vital, dynamic, living ecosystem for generations to come may be the more difficult route. It is also what the community wants, what the voters want, and what is right for future generations.
Should the quarry go forward its legacy will be the destruction of irreplaceable natural resources, degradation of the environment, and the birth of long-lasting animosity towards all who would have permitted the project. There are currently over thirty thousand signatories who have expressed their desire to NOT have this project in their community. Other sources for aggregate currently exist in San Diego, Riverside, and Imperial Counties.
I respectfully ask you to preserve the Earth and Sky which are Sacred to both Native Americans and to those of us who have made this great land our home. Do not let Granite Construction destroy this land, malign your electorate, and put the business plan of one corporation above the will of thousands who live in the community. Please support AB 742 and help to ensure the preservation of this sacred site for generations to come.
• Over 30,000 Temecula Community citizens, 159 physicians, and 467 local businesses have signed petitions protesting the Liberty Quarry Project.
• Since 2005, the City of Temecula has spent $784,000 dollars to combat Granite Construction’s Liberty Quarry
• Temecula City Council passed a resolution opposing Liberty Quarry.
• Blasting would occur six days a week for the seventy-five year lifetime of the project.
• 5 million tons of aggregate would be removed by trucks every year (7 am until 9 pm).
• Asphalt, concrete, and concrete re-cycling plants, would be part of the quarry.
• Excavation would be approximately 1000 feet deep. The observatory deck at the Empire State Building is 1224 feet from the ground
• Excavation intended to be equal to 117 football fields in width.
• Once completed, there are no plans to remediate the land: a hole would remain.
• The land is held to be Sacred by Native Americans who have called the area their home for generations before being forced at gunpoint to resettle on the reservation.
• The “undeveloped land” is part of a greater area of uninterrupted forest which comprises the Santa Margarita Ecological Reserve – a living laboratory under continuous operation by San Diego State University and researchers for the past forty years.
• The acreage in question feeds the Santa Margarita River (flowing through the Reserve) and supplies drinking water to nearby, down-river Camp Pendleton.
• Liberty Quarry would consume 130,000,000 gallons of water per year.
• The Santa Margarita River is the LAST wild river in Southern California.
• The Santa Margarita Ecological Reserve and the surrounding area comprise the LAST wildlife corridor between the Santa Ana Mountains and the Palomar Mountain Range.
• Other sources for construction aggregate exist in the region, at least one of which is owned by Granite Construction Corporation.
From the Granite Construction Website:
” Character Matters
Pechanga Sponsors Legislation to Protect Tribe’s Place of Creation
Pechanga Indian Reservation, CA, August 4, 2011 – The Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians announced that it is sponsoring a bipartisan bill with more than 30 co‐authors in the State Legislature to protect the mountain that is the very birthplace of creation for Pechanga and other Luiseño tribes from being blasted and excavated as a mine for the next 75 years.
Granite Construction Inc. is seeking Riverside County’s approval of its Surface Mining Permit Application to develop the Liberty Quarry, which would be one of the largest open‐pit hard rock mines in the United States generating 5 million tons of aggregate each year. Located just 500 yards from the Pechanga Indian Reservation, the Liberty Quarry would produce 270 million tons of aggregate by blasting a crater as wide as 117 football fields and as deep as the Empire State Building is tall less than ¼ of a mile from the heavily populated City of Temecula.
Upon reviewing Liberty Quarry’s Draft Environmental Impact Report, the Pechanga Band determined the 414‐acre project would cause irreparable and immitigable destruction to this place of creation. “Our Tribe participated in the environmental review process and took extraordinary and unprecedented steps to provide Riverside County with ethnographic and other evidence detailing the significance of this area to Pechanga,” said Tribal Chairman Mark Macarro.
Granite’s own ethnographic experts acknowledged the site as significant to the Tribe. Published in May 2009, the Ethnography Study noted, “…it is clear that much if not all of the Liberty Quarry project area… lies within a landscape that the Pechanga Tribe regards as spiritually significant… As such, this landscape is eligible for National Register of Historic Properties nomination as a TCP [Traditional Cultural Property] district.”
County planning staff in March, however, wrote in the Final Environmental Impact Report “…the County respectfully disagrees with the Tribe’s characterization of the area in and around the Project Site as TCP” and found the devastating cultural impacts to be “less than significant” under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
“That county planners deemed our Tribe’s place of creation ‘insignificant’ under CEQA despite overwhelming and independent evidence to the contrary is disgraceful,” said Tribal Chairman Macarro. “Because county planners have failed to honor the spirit of the law designed to protect such areas, we are forced to seek additional legislation to protect our place of creation from destruction.”
Authored by Assembly Member Bonnie Lowenthal, D‐Long Beach, AB 742 would amend the Public Resources Code to include aggregate operations on the list of mining activities restricted near Native American sacred sites.
“I believe respecting one another’s religious beliefs is key to a healthy society,” said Lowenthal. “And there’s probably no better place to demonstrate this than on a mountain where some believe life itself began,” she said.
Scholars say that Káamalam Pomki is analogous to the Garden of Eden as the location of creation or to the Wailing Wall or Sistine Chapel in terms of spiritual significance.
“It is not an option to tell our future generations that their place of creation, the basis of their history and their very identity, used to be here,” said Macarro. “As any other People would, we will bring to bear all of the resources at our disposal to protect this sacred area from the permanent destruction this massive mine would cause.”
The controversial Liberty Quarry is also opposed by the City of Temecula, the Santa Margarita Ecological Reserve that is immediately adjacent to the proposed area, thousands of residents, hundreds of businesses, more than 150 physicians that live and work in the Temecula Valley, Southern California Indian Tribes, and every federally recognized Luiseño Tribe.
Proponents of the Liberty Quarry argue that the mine will create a total of 99 jobs. However, the Rose Institute of State and Local Government at Claremont McKenna College analyzed Granite’s economic impact report and found “these quarry jobs will be more than offset by job losses in tourism, real estate, construction, and agriculture.”
Calculating all of the benefits and the costs associated with the proposed Liberty Quarry, the Rose Institute estimates that, “the quarry will reduce property values by $540 million and cost the region an additional $80 million per year” with an “estimated total cumulative net negative impact of $3.6 billion to the region.”
Watch Granite Construction take the land apart at about 4:30
Will Big Government side with Big Business against the will of the people?
At the heart of Granite Construction Corporation’s proposed Liberty Quarry project is a conflict which is theological in nature. The notion that a section of the earth in its natural state is “undeveloped” and therefore available to be exploited in the pursuit of profit is the vision held by many corporations – including Granite Construction Corporation management.
The imprimatur of a bureaucracy condoning the destruction of the living earth represents the worst type of corrupt nineteenth century expansionist thinking. Permitting callous indifference to works of the Creator damages us all.
The intended rape of the land by Granite Construction must be stopped.
There are plenty of resources for construction material in Southern California; even if they are owned by entities other than the Northern California Granite Construction company.
The value of gold is determined by its scarcity. Not all things are fungible. LAST is immeasurably more valuable than something measured in millions of tons. Clean air, water, open space, and the freedom of migrating wild and living things, trump dreams of profit and dust.
Supporting the destruction of an irreplaceable natural resource in a wholesale effort to degrade the land to usher in the reality of a San Angeles is not a positive dream.
Granite Construction Corporation’s proposed Liberty Quarry is a nightmare dwarfing Biblical proportions and consequences. The choice between stewardship of this last remaining section of wilderness or allowing its destruction is clear: Liberty Quarry must be stopped.
“All it will take for Granite Construction to triumph is for good citizens to do nothing.” –with respect to Edmund Burke
Don’t let cynicism rob you of your will to speak up for what you know is right. If you elect to do nothing to speak for the land which cannot speak for itself, the corporation will win through the default of your inaction.
Send the petition below, post on FaceBook, make calls to your elected representatives, tell your friends, read more about what we all stand to lose if Granite Construction Corporation has their way. They may win anyway. Guaranteed you will sleep better at night knowing that you at least tried to make a difference.