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Cedar Rapids Gazette Newspaper Archive: October 9, 1974 - Page 5

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Publication: Cedar Rapids Gazette

Location: Cedar Rapids, Iowa

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   Cedar Rapids Gazette (Newspaper) - October 9, 1974, Cedar Rapids, Iowa                                Itv James Sleiba N.'W YmV GLACIKK Mout Vast sections 'li'Miiilain West (his country's last relatively unspoiled ua '''Won arc on their way In becoming cluttered anil pnlliilnl iniliislriiil wastelands filled wilh raw boom towns and social misfits as a result of Ihc drive to exploit the region's energy and 'mineral wealth. Because of this and the continued population influx anil llii' up of agricultural and mountain land for housing siilxlivisinns and businesses tlie region faces a transforma- Hon as basic as when the white man first set foot in the mountain West. Long-time residents, fearing an end to a lieloved life-style, say often these days. "Now we know how the Indians must have felt." Worry over the future of the region is increasing. The Federation of Rocky Mountain Stales, Inc.. a collection of government and business leaders from Montana. Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico, devoted a good deal of lime during its 10th annual meeting here recently to a stark portrayal of what was under way and what was in slure. I'siug a hypothetical boom town called Resource City, Rocky mountains, officials of the federation painted a picture of unsightly landscapes, intolerable living conditions, increas- ing crime and growing mental illness. "Condffa'ons Do Exist, Will Exist" "It is not the officials wrote in their report. "The conditions described in this paper do exist and will exist in many sections (if our region." "We now find ourselves facing perhaps the greatest challenge in history fur our region's decision makers: How to protect our way of life and the breathtaking beauty of our lauds while at the same time sharing uur rich energy resources wilh the rest of uur said Gov. Thomas .Indue of Montana, chairman of the federation. Booms arc not new to the region. Bui many local authori- ties [ear (hat booms like (he gold ami silver rush at (he end of the las( century will seem innocent in comparison lo the mas- sive assault by huge national energy, mineral and real estate corporations now getting under way. People, fed up wilh the clutter and pollution they helped to create in sprawling urban belts on the Knsl and West coasts, are moving into the mountain states by the tens of thousands every month. In the Denver area alone, outsiders take up residence weekly, creating many of the same problems they tried to escape. Ilnzons nf gigantic piiwor-L'oneralini' plants _ each new one called the world's largest are under construction or be- ing planned. They will gorge themselves with cheap strip mined Western coal. One in operation near the Four Corners area where Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico meet, produces clean elec- tricity and dirty air. The electricity is exported to Los Angeles. Phoenix and other points west. The dirly air stays. Knough pipelines, power Hues and rail lines are on the drawing boards to make the region look like the home of some gargantuan spider, ever expanding its web. Wafer Flows Uphill Toward Money Water, in this semi-arid region, is already in short supply. There is a saying here: Water flows uphill money. The wealth and power of corporations, subdividers and city governments dwaii tlie wealth and power of farmers and ranchers, many of whom believe their way of life is on the verge of becoming history as a result. lint nol only ranchers and farmers are worried. Governors and ulhcr stale officials fear Ilia! agriculture, till' foundation of several slate economies, could be irreparably damaged. They worry Dial hundreds of millions of dollars speul by people visiting Ihc region lo see and experience unspoiled nalural beauty may eventually evaporate as the landscape becomes scarred and cluttered and tlie air and rivers change color. Many officials have charged Ihal decisions made by the federal government and private corporations lo exploit the West's resources will lead til the creation of a "national sacrifice area" that is beyond reclamation. And they say (hey lack the power at Hie federal level to slop the creation of such all area because Washington is top-heavy with representalivcs from the energy-hungry F.asl and West coasts. Many people look to slate and local governments to control the influx of outside corporations and people. Ironically, however, officials in local government, after decades of promoting growth, often find it difficult to reverse themselves in order lo control it. Concerned academic, business and government authorities say one key problem is that many people are not aware of ad- verse consequences of energy development already taking place in the region. The Federation of Rocky Mountain Stales, in ils report on Resource City, drew logelhcr studies of boom areas like Colstrip, Mont., and Gillette and Rock Springs, Wyo.. lo portray conditions of a typical boom town four years afler the boom begins. Classrooms, Teachers Scarce Following is a summary of their 21-page report: Resource City's population lias doubled. Teachers and classrooms are scarce. Despite many jobs and good wages, job turnover is high because living conditions are bad. Crime lias increased percent. Welfare recipients have quadrupled. Housing It is almost impossible to find homes. Tents are common. More than 35 percent of the population lives in house trailers, mosl in barren muddy camps, or crammed into canyons and open fields. Trailer rentals cost up lo SH5 per week. Some motel rooms are rented in eight-hour shifts. Land that sold for per acre three years ago now costs ail; acre. Land nearby, on which quick, cheap housing could be built cannot be used because Hie federal government, a railroad and a association will not sell it. Labor The yearly job turnover is 151) percent. Local merchants cannot afford .to pay the high wages the energy companies pay, so they are shorlhanded. The new companies have attracted unreliable transients. Absenteeism is high. High school students drop out lo work for high wages. One company predicted it needed a maximum of workers but ended up needing Transportation Traffic lias increased fivefold, jamming old streets and parking lots. The small airport nearby cannot handle air cargo requirements. Workers often commute 70 miles lo buy groceries and supplies and 150 miles lo Die nearest good hospital. The environment Clean air and wide-open spaces are gone. Sulphur, nitrogen and carbon dioxide pollutants fill the air. along with lens of thousands of tons of particnlates. On temperature-inversion days. Resource City looks like smoggy Los Angeles. Demands for water for (lie new industries have eul deeply into supplies for agriculture. Many livestock wells have dried up and downstream, salts, dissolved solids and loxlc levels of (iLPID fill PliOOr O 1 nisi, en trace elements dumped by Kesource are affecting fish, wildlife and livestock, as well as small-town water supplies. The need for sand and gravel for construction lias caused creation of unsightly pits and further environmental damage around town. Fflecls on wildlife have nearly been disastrous. Once noted for bin game hunting and fishing, the area around Resource City has been disturbed, animals destroyed, their habilats permanently disrupted, their food chains altered. Increased populations have over-used the damaged hunting, fishing and recreation grounds. VandalisrhMias increased. Historical sites and monuments have been damaged. Gaping open-pit mines, tall sleel am! aluminum power plants, trailer camps and makeshift housing, and a maw of roads, railroads, pipelines and power lines have scarred a once eslheUcally beautiful area. Lund ase Once an area of irrigated cropland and graxing that attracted tourists. Resource City and its environs no longer attract tourists. Some acres have been per- manently removed from crop production. Ranchers have sold land for bit profits. Others have sold because they can im longer get water. The county assessor says thousands of acres have passed from private to corporate ownership. Health The small local hospital is inundated with pu- lieiits. Seriously ill patients must bo taken 150 miles to the nearesl adequate facilities. Overloaded family doctors have slopped accepting new patients. There are long lines and three-hour wails al tlie hospital emergency room. The mental health clinic's caseload lias increased percent. Tlie local jail has become a bidding area for psychiatric patients and alcoholics, and is often used by wives as protec- tion from beatings by their drunken husbands. Dishwasher safe oven to table dinnerware what KIMJ.-IN A WIIUY SIRItS 01-' 1LNSA-. TIONAI. VALUES I'LANNI .D IH COOI'IRAIION Will] ONIY 1111 BEST OF MANUfACIIIRI RS. [ACH HONUf, IUM OLIff ftlGIO MANIUROS Of ANr Uiil hi AI I Rt >NUf, I'RI, ONI Y WHill. ('.HIANIIIIf. I V.I Elegant ironstone from New Zealand in 4 color heightened patterns; Filigree, Charrnaine, Meri fWeri and Emerald. Set includes 8 dinner plates, salads, cups and saucers. 1 oval platter, vegetable bowl, creamer and Downtown Porkadc DoilHing I   

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