All 300-plus of us were told not to clap, hoot, shout or make a sound. It was supposed to be a meeting of the utmost decorum – a term I’ve learned from attending numerous Grand County Council meetings and have heard Lynn Jackson and Gene Ciarus warn us rabble rousers of many times.
So I was taken aback at the first round of clapping and yelling.
I thought the mediator would be stern and rein it in, but it happened again and again throughout the night by the anti-wilderness extremists. Not only were we told no hooting and clapping, but we were also told to not get personal. That guideline was thrown into the wind as well. I heard over and over: Who do we (the pro-wilderness, environmentalist, “outsiders”) think we are in trying to impose our beliefs onto this community? Who are we to have any place at the table in what happens to this place we call home? How dare we come here and try to protect this amazingly beautiful region from industrialization. How dare we try to protect it from another bust cycle. How dare we try to protect the air, land, water and wildlife.
The message I kept hearing is that we aren’t welcome here despite creating businesses and supporting the town. That we’re essentially taking food out of the mouths of children and trying to rob “locals” of their ability to possibly make $100,000 a year in the extraction industry
I was told that I couldn’t speak because I am a San Juan County resident, yet another San Juan County resident who owns a business in Grand County was allowed to speak. Since I own a home and pay property taxes in Grand County I asked if could I then speak, figuring there may be some balance in all of this. Evidently not, because Lynn Jackson said “No.”
By the end of the debacle I had had enough of being ridiculed and disrespected by the extremists. I got tired of hearing that Ray Tibbetts is a hero because he is into exploiting the land and squeezing money out of it. I got tired of the extremists telling us they were truly environmentalists because when they were putting in a new road for oil/gas they went around a tree – but they are not seeing the destruction of the rest of the ecosystem in the wake of the bulldozer.
The really big problem here is that many people do not see the big picture of what is going on in the environment; they are being blinded by promises of increased revenues by the extraction industry. They are uninformed about the effects of what tar sands, fracking, and the oil/gas industry will have on the health and well-being of this region, adversely affecting the air and water, with full scale strip mining of tar sands and fracking destroying the Book Cliffs, some of the wildest lands in our nation.
I am a devout environmentalist. I want this Earth protected from here on out. I want the destruction to stop. I want us to slow down and stop over-consuming. I want us to be sustainable, which is getting harder and harder because the population keeps growing. I love this Earth more than anything. It is my God. When I see all of the destruction we are creating, I see my God being destroyed.
This Earth is all we’ve got and we need to respect it for the life-giving force it is. We are creating an Earth on which we can’t survive, and it will be our fault.
This Edward Abbey quote says it all: “But the love of wilderness is more than a hunger for what is beyond reach, it is also an expression of loyalty to the Earth, the Earth which bore us and sustains us, the only home we shall ever know, the only paradise we ever need – if only we had the eyes to see. Original sin, the true original sin, is the blind destruction for the sake of greed of this natural paradise which lies all around us – if only we were worthy.”
Kiley Miller owns Eco Moab, a green cleaning and home caretaking service. She has lived in Moab for 16 1/2 years – the first four in a van, then a school bus and the last four in a solar and wind-powered home built entirely by her partner and herself. She is a rock climber who loves to go out into remote canyon country to explore and climb sandstone spires.