The following was written in response to an article within the Indian Country Media Today Network website, specifically referencing Granite Construction Corporation’s proposed “Liberty Quarry” which would impact land sacred to Native Americans in an area now called Temecula, located in southern Riverside County. (Click this text for the full article.)
I’d like to thank the staff writers for that that article as it motivated me to write about a subject which I believe to be of critical importance, and provided the requisite momentum to tip the Sacred Sky Sacred Earth website into existence.
In researching this issue I found a number of citizen and environmental groups banding against the proposed quarry for many legitimate reasons, apart from and including the fact that the quarry would dismantle a sacred site regarded as the point of origin of the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians.
The more I read, the more I thought of the plot line of James Cameron’s simplistic Avatar: A giant soul-less mega-corporation hell-bent on destroying a living planet to extract a valuable mineral at all costs, pitched against stone-age savages, using every manner of advertising, force, and technology available to sell their mission.
Our current cast of characters includes the behemoth Granite Construction Corporation (descending from the home planet of Watsonville, the California), seeking to dismantle a mountain of granite to crush into building material. Standing against this scheme are concerned citizens, home owners, tree-huggers, businesses, doctors and the like – including me.
Given the scale and scope of Granite Construction’s proposed “Liberty Quarry” the amount of resistance from residents within the community and surrounding area is not surprising:
“Associated with the development of this project will be the construction of a aggregate processing facility, which will include crushing and screening components, two hot-mix asphalt plants, a ready mix concrete plant, a concrete recycling facility, an asphalt recycling facility, and related administration and support facilities.”
The project also calls for an excavation deeper than the Empire State Building is tall, over a mile in length, and its to operate on a 24/6 schedule with 1600 truck transits per day.
According to Granite Construction Corp. plant engineer Chris Kiser’s 2008 published report, Liberty Quarry would remove 5 million tons of material per year and use a whopping 130 million gallons of water in the process (398 acre/feet of water/year x 325851.4 gallons of water/acre foot =129,688,857.2 gallons). This issue has also been covered and somehow approved, despite drought conditions in the area. Before leaving this not-insignificant issue, like any other commodity purchased in quantity, water would be discounted. So the rates that you and I would pay would be deeply discounted.
Given the recent (and still developing) events at Fukushima the fact that the 42 year-old San Onofre nuclear facility is less than forty miles from the proposed quarry cannot not be ignored. The section of land proposed for development is close to a number of fault lines (and earthquakes) including one that appears to coincide with major sections of Interstate route 15 right around the Rainbow-Fallbrook area. According to the USGS link, that fault hasn’t seen any action in 130,000 years. Granite Construction Corp. must be very confident that blasting a dozen times a day for seventy-five years will have “zero effect” on any of our area geology: now and into the unimaginable future.
“Granite representatives have stated that Liberty Quarry will use 10,000 pounds of explosives in a single daily blast. So how big a bang do you get with 10,000 pounds of explosives? Well, only 5,000 pounds of the same explosive were used in April 1995 to bring down a major portion of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.”
Here’s another way to look at the blasting – even though the concussive force will be directed into the ground, and not the atmosphere:
- The Trinity atomic test was the equivalent of 15,000 tons of TNT.
- Granite Construction Corporation would use 5 tons of TNT per day at the proposed Liberty Quarry site.
- 3000 days of blasting would equal the discharge of the Trinity blast of 1945.
- Every 8.22 years GCC would release the same amount of force as an atom bomb at Liberty Quarry.
- During the proposed 75 year lifetime of Liberty Quarry the explosive equivalent of nine Trinity-level nuclear explosions would be released on a fault line, less than forty-five miles from what is currently a 42 year-old nuclear power plant in San Onofre.
- Granite Construction Corp., intends to detonate NINE Trinity-level explosions at Liberty Quarry during the project’s lifetime.
In the wake of Fukushima, who could possibly predict that this is either a good idea, or safe?
Within Granite Construction’s code of conduct page I found, “Accept responsibility for your own actions or inactions and for those whom you supervise.“ I cannot help but wonder what management’s course of action with respect to Liberty Quarry (or any other of their projects) would be, if they were deprived of the personal immunity currently afforded to their actions via the proxy of a corporate entity? What if Granite Construction Corporation President Scott D. Wolcott and fellow corporate officers, board members, employees, staff, and their families, were held accountable in criminal and civil courts for their actions; both now and for future generations? Why shouldn’t they be? They are in effect telling all concerned that we will have to live with whatever fallout occurs from their actions. Why should this be a one-way transaction? Fact is that all who live in the area would be affected by the actions of a company in search of profit from this time forward.
Why shouldn’t the individuals and families employed by and benefiting from Granite Construction Corporation be saddled with the same level of risk as all those whose health and lives would be changed by Liberty Quarry?
I can subscribe to the concept that a seismic-induced nuclear event would be fitting karmic reward to all who support the Liberty Quarry project. The only problem is that Granite Construction Corp. executives and staff would only experience a loss of corporate income as they are headquartered in Northern California. This would leave the rest of us local-types (within fifty miles of San Onofre) to fry or fly.
There is another question than all the potential side-effects from the construction (destruction) of land which has been unsullied since the end of the last ice age: Why is the euphemistically named “Liberty Quarry” is even being considered for this area? Other area quarries currently exist to supply aggregate to private, city, and state customers. While they may not be owned by Granite Construction Corporation they do exist as Google quickly shows.
Greater still is the issue that what is at stake in this discussion is a final section of the living, breathing, fecund Earth. This area contains the LAST free flowing river in Southern California and its ecology has been the subject of intense study for many years. The Santa Margarita Reserve and the area in question are also the last remaining wildlife corridor connecting the coastal Santa Anna Mountains with the inland Palomar Mountains.
Again this is the LAST. Not fifty zillion million tons or more of granite aggregate. No. This top layer of life is the LAST of its kind in Southern California. The LAST. There aren’t any more. Finished. Final: Man has conquered the Wild West and paved it into submission.
There is something very sad about this; beyond BP’s oil and Corexit in the Gulf, past the tar sands of Canada, the oil spill in the Yellowstone River, the radiation from Fukushima, the pollution from the flood states of the Mississippi, synthetic estrogen in mountain trout, and the great swirling patches of garbage in our oceans. As if these recent news items are not indictment enough of big business’s approach to the natural world, Granite Construction Corporation has now put a price tag on the last open river, the last wildlife corridor, the last naturally occurring ecosystem, the last wild living section of earth in Southern California.
The Granite Construction Corporation’s Liberty Quarry project has targeted the wrong location for every reason imaginable.
Comments for the Granite Construction video included in the article contained in this link have been disabled on YouTube. While I can wonder why this is so, silencing the voice of the public is a good tactic to avoid critical commentary and questioning.
The other video in the article helped to convey a feeling for the area and is worth watching. I had the privilege of visiting SDSU’s filed stations there in 2003 and have only the smallest inkling of the area’s importance.
At the heart of this issue is a conflict which I see as 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. Bureaucratic legitimation 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. [Given Mr. Johnson's patronizing report, it seems that trucks and construction companies need to pay more taxes for the wear and tear on our roadways. ]
There are plenty of resources for construction material in Southern California; even if they are owned by companies other than the Northern California Granite Construction company.
The value of gold is determined by its scarcity. I would like to submit that LAST is 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 and usher in the reality of a San Angeles is not a positive dream.
Granite Construction Company’s proposed Liberty Quarry is a nightmare dwarfing Biblical proportions and consequences and it 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.
San Diego • July 15, 2011