Open Letter to Naturita/Nucla
by Art Goodtimes
Sep 10, 2009 | 1305 views | 1 1 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print

MICHAEL MOORE … Among many, that name conjures up a liberal documentary filmmaker who’s taken on several national issues in his films. But Mike Moore is also the name of a resident of Montrose County’s West End. Recently he penned a letter to the editor of the Daily Planet (Sept. 3) calling for Telluride to leave the West End of Montrose County alone and stop opposing the proposed Piñon Ridge uranium mill in the Paradox Valley … This is the same West End that uses San Miguel County’s fairgrounds in Norwood for 4-H, riding clubs and rodeos but cannot find the money to pay a fair share of the costs of running that facility? This is the same West End that benefits from San Miguel County’s Cooperative Extension and 4-H leaders in Norwood, but fails to pay its fair share of those positions? This is the same West End that uses San Miguel County’s bus system from Norwood to Telluride almost wholly subsidized at San Miguel citizen expense? This is the same West End that goes for dental and medical help to the Uncompahgre Medical Clinic in Norwood that San Miguel County supports financially? … Sure, we can stand on our county lines and pretend what affects one county has no affect on a neighbor. But it’s just not true. In fact, it’s exactly because it’s not true that Montrose, San Miguel and Ouray counties have been meeting at least twice a year for the 13 years I’ve been in political office … Look, I live in Norwood. I understand everyone’s love/hate relationship with Telluride and the tourism/real estate industry that’s been the economic engine of the region since uranium mining crashed in the ‘80s … And frankly, I’m not even opposed to a return of mining. Hard rock mining. The metals we’ll need for solar and wind and other alternative energy solutions. But not uranium mining. That’s a Faustian bargain with future devils we can’t even imagine yet … Not that I can’t believe I might be proven wrong on nuclear power at some future date. As I’ve long said, solve the waste issue in a way that’s safe for humans and the environment and I’m on board. But it’s been 60 years of waiting and hearing about the miracle of the atom, and we are not an inch closer to solving the nuclear waste problem … Plus, throwing so much of the region’s precious water at a mill that has the potential to seriously contaminate water supplies (as has already happened at Hanford in Washington and at Cañon City) seems foolhardy at best. And all that for a business that notoriously booms and busts – vulnerable to so many national and international pressures. A Canadian business at that! … I sympathize with Mr. Moore’s desperation in these hard economic times. Any job looks like a good job when there’s so few jobs to be had, especially those that pay a decent wage. But he’s just plain wrong that our “communities will not be impacted one iota from the mill.” Radioactive contamination of air, water, and soil happened in the last uranium boom – at the mill at Naturita, at Vanadium, at dozens of uranium mills all over the west. Some of those scars, like at Uravan, have barely scabbed over. What’s to prevent radioactive contamination from happening all over again? … Believe me, I’ve read the relevant facts. I attended the county briefing from the state regulators (none of whom have so much as a Ph. D.). I understand that once the mill closes in 20 or 40 years, the DOE is required to monitor the Paradox site for 1000 years. Why? Because there’s not one iota of impact? Montrose County is actively seeking a 1000-year stigma as a radioactive wasteland, after even Nevada rejected that status? … You’re right about one thing, Mr. Moore. It will be the Montrose County commissioners who will make the licensing decision on the local level. But to expect your nearest neighbors not to weigh in with facts is unreasonable. Take the fact that the environmental assessment for the Piñon Ridge project isn’t completed but your county seems to be moving forward with approvals before even knowing if your claim of “no impacts” has any scientific basis or not. That’s an issue for citizens in San Miguel County, where environmental impacts are thoroughly researched and weighed before land use decisions are made (and vested) … Many of us would like to see Nucla become the nucleus of a new alternative energy generation economy – the center of a region with natural gas power plants and maybe a co-fired biofuel facility and solar concentrating plants. Using the Nucla coal plant as the powerline lynchpin, that could happen … But put all your chips on uranium, neighbors, and you may just have busted yourself out of the future.

ECO-DEBT COMPOUNDING … According to regional ecology guardian Lance Christie of Moab, we’re over the eco-limit. Global Footprint Network’s Living Planet Report 2008 <> makes it clear. By 2005 over three-quarters of the world’s population were living in countries that were “ecological debtors” – demanding more biocapacity than they have within their borders … GFN estimates the average person’s ecological footprint is 24 acres in the USA, 12 acres in the European Union. Worldwide it averages 5 acres. Below average footprints are found in such places as Haiti, Afghanistan and Malawi with less than one acre per person – too small to meet basic requirements for food, shelter, infrastructure and sanitation … GFN has initiated projects in 23 nations to evaluate the national ecological bottom line in order to inform decision makers of the resource limits central to making good decisions about reducing resource consumption. Dr. Mathis Wackernagel, GFN’s executive director, says: “As we look toward an increasingly resource-constrained future, the societies that fare the best will be those that invest in the green economy -- like renewable energy and compact human development.”

ENTHEOGENETICS … According to a study published this year in the journal Cell Metabolism, Cannabis use reduces bone density in young adults, but in seniors it prevents bone loss as well as fat accumulation in bones, thus countering osteoporosis. Smoking dried plant material apparently activates the type 1 cannabinoid receptor in bone tissue, thus impacting bone regeneration.


Here’s a place-based poem, newly worked over

in Han Shan’s Cold Mountain tradition – having

surfaced recently in the desktop midden heap

that I call office/studio at Cloud Acre

at the headwaters of Maverick Draw.

Heading Up to Junction

the La Sals play peekaboo

in a blue break

through the rupture of a storm

roiling over the Uncompahgre Plateau

wave to Billy Wilson

plowing the Cone Road

a slush spray

fans the snowbanks

roads snowpacked & icy

Hwy 145 into Montrose

dusted with cinders

on the curves & canyons

Nucla Station’s plume


this chill morn

tail end of the dragon

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September 23, 2009
"Many of us would like to see Nucla become the nucleus of a new alternative energy generation economy – the center of a region with natural gas power plants and maybe a co-fired biofuel facility and solar concentrating plants."

Does this mean you support Natural Gas Production in San Miguel County (something you've been opposed to previously)?