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And, as a resident of Horace Greeley's "Great American Desert", I am always devastated by the sight of our precious water being wasted, contaminated and exploited. MERCY, WHAT WILL IT TAKE TO AWAKEN THIS COUNTRY, AND WHAT DO WE DO? THANKS FOR YOUR EFFORTS AT MAKING EVERYONE MORE AWARE. Talk back on the boards.

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After 9/11 should energy needs take precedence over the environment?

Coal truck in Wyoming
Science and Health:
Terry Tempest Williams on Homeland Security

I'm standing at Dead Horse Point, one of the most spectacular vistas in all of the Southwest. Below me is the Colorado River meandering through Canyonlands National Park, shaped by water, wind, and time. The silence one finds here is a reminder that there are still places of peace in this world.

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Terry Tempest Williams
Terry Tempest Williams
on the Fate of Public Lands

But it may not be for long, if the Bush Administration has its way. In the name of national security, we are being asked to sacrifice sensitive wildlands throughout the American West and Alaska. Eighty-five percent of Utah's public lands, that translates to over 20 million acres in all, are now open for oil and gas exploration, oil drilling has already been approved in much of this redrock wilderness.

Last week, I witnessed the Bush/Cheney Energy Plan in action, just outside Arches National Park. Huge 50,000 pound trucks roared through the delicate landscape, leaving behind broken junipers and crushed cottonwoods, delicate soils obliterated. It will take hundreds of years for the scars on this landscape to now heal.

The oil fields erected in this area, during the first Bush Administration, have yielded only 1/10th of one day's U.S. energy consumption over the past 10 years. Even so, new derricks and pumps are planned on the rim of Dead Horse State Park within months.

We can learn something from this redrock country as we stand on its edge. These rocks tell time differently. In the desert, there is time and space where we can begin to experience a settling of the soul. We can learn humility in the face of Creation, reverence in the presence of light and faith in one another as we exercise restraint in the name of what lands should be developed and what lands should be preserved.

Conservation is an act of democracy, the greatest good for the greatest numbers for the longest time. Surely, the protection of these natural treasures is fundamental to "homeland security."

Who can say how much nature can be destroyed without consequence? Who can say how much land can be used for extractive purposes until it is rendered barren forever. And who can know what the human spirit will be crying out for one hundred years from now?

The eyes of the future are looking back at us and they are praying that we might act with restraint.

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