Another “Expert” from Hollywood Attempting to Clear His Conscience
By Perry Pendley
After reading Robert Redford’s late February commentary in the New York Times, it’s easy to see why he earned millions of dollars making movies. His harangue against the West, and specifically mining, is a work or pure fiction.
Hollywood, through Redford, has joined in Clinton’s war on the west with a barrage against ranchers, miners, and loggers. However, the battle now raging throughout the West is not about politics or partisanship. It is about people. U. S. Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell (D-CO), calls the Clinton assault an attack “on my neighbors and my friends.”
Redford derides “the West” as “a romantic notion.” Ironically, it is Redford and his environmental extremist friends whose vision of the West is a “romantic notion.” They seek to turn everything from the 100th meridian to the Cascade Mountains into a vast park through which to travel, munching organic chips and sipping Perrier. While Redford wouldn’t know it from the scenic serenity of his elitist enclave in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah, there aren’t enough rich Americans for Westerners to turn their homes into bed and breakfast operations, fluffing duvets and pouring cappuccino.
Redford attempts, unsuccessfully, to brush aside the jobs issue. Tens of thousands of Westerners find those jobs ranching, logging and mining. In the rural counties, which make up most of the West, those activities are often the primary source of jobs. Take one state, Arizona, and one mineral, copper. In 1992, copper mining contributed $6.56 billion to the economy of Arizona, along with 69,400 jobs. These were not just jobs at the mines and mills of rural Arizona. Forty-two percent of the boost mining gives to Arizona occurs in Phoenix’s Maricopa County.
Recently eight western governors (four Democrats and four Republicans) wrote President Clinton urging him not to accept the House mining bill favored by Redford and his friends. The reason for these divergent views is the same: all acknowledge that the House bill will kill mining in the West. Redford, from his idyllic retreat, welcomes that. The Governors, more in touch with the needs and desires of their constituents, know that would be a disaster.
According to one study, 44,000 mining jobs – the highest paid non-supervisory jobs in the country – will be lost and with them more than $422 million in federal tax revenues. Job losses will not just occur in the West. Vendors in Texas, Illinois, Kentucky and Pennsylvania will suffer. Redford quotes a phony study which says that’s okay because there will be government jobs as inspectors as well as part time and seasonal jobs in reclamation – at one third the salary.
Yet the loss of real, high paying jobs is not the only cost of the mining bill favored by Redford. The Clinton Justice Department reports the nation will be “liable for countless millions of dollars in damages for the taking of private property,” and will face “a volume of litigation requiring years to resolve.” Redford disparages the federal mining law, primarily; it appears, because it is old. Paradoxically, it is the same age as the law which created Yellowstone National Park. Both statutes have stood the test of time.
Redford is wrong when he asserts that “modern” mining has yielded Superfund sites. While there are Superfund sites in the West – as there are elsewhere in the nation – they are the result of activities which ended decades ago. Redford is also wrong when he says that the purchase of a mining site costs miners $50 a claim. The federal government reports that the real cost is nearly $40,000.
Today miners comply with all environmental laws, including the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act and the Endangered Species Act. Furthermore, all western states require that mined lands be reclaimed.
Redford’s creative writing exercise may be factual enough for a Hollywood screenplay. However, in the economic life-and-death drama being played out in Congress, it is not the basis for decisions affecting Ordinary People.§
Perry Pendley is the President and Chief Legal Officer of the Mountain States Legal Foundation.
Editor’s Comment:From Barbara Striesand to Ted Dansen, Merryl Streep, Tom Cruse and the rest of the Hollywood bunch, it’s time for American’s to quit supporting these guilt ridden, self centered brain surgeons who make so much money they have to make themselves feel good by supporting something they know little about.
In the history of mankind never have so few collected so much from so many and deserved it so little. These ex-bartenders and cocktail waitresses who mostly are stuck for an answer if you ask them their name are prone to drugs, sex and anything else to stimulate their thick skulls and keep them believing they actually deserve what they get.
In a society where the person who will eventually find a cure for cancer, will be given a Nobel Prize and then forgotten, it is the SHEEP who can’t wait to throw their money at these idiot’s. I can respect their talent as entertainers, but when they use their notoriety to tell us how to live, it’s time to stop!