Monday February 4th, I attended the workshop the Lyons town board consented to having the Cemex Plant leadership present to them. No one in the packed hall was allowed to speak, or ask questions during the presentation.. A collective groan involuntarily erupted from the crowd when the plant manager announced the intent to seek a permit that would allow the plant to mine and operate for another 25 years. The community has had the understanding for years now that the mining operation would exhaust the resource it was extracting. By the end of this year, the strip mining would cease and Cemex would then proceed to fulfill it’s contractual obligation to reclaim the land.
There was an opportunity for public comment when the board of trustees reconvened for it’s regular meeting, however, the mayor refused to honor requests of community members in attendance to extend additional time to those who wished to speak. Instead, the mayor shut down the public comments when a woman refused to comply with the board’s 3 minute edict.
Controlling discourse and constituents trumps democratic discourse and attention to constituents concerns.
The town board of Lyons has no decision making power in determining whether Cemex will be granted 25 more years to profit from decimating the land and the health of the humans who live here.
The entire presentation by Cemex was an exercise in green-washing and “good neighbor” propaganda.
In the self professed corporately educated opinion and mined experience of the plant manager, it is in everyone’s best interests to continue mining Dow Flats.
Here is what I would have said, had I been allowed to speak:
My name is Jennifer Murnan and I live at 5125 Ute Hwy, Longmont on the occupied lands of the Cheyenne and Arapaho people. I have lived in the Lyons area for almost all of my life, living first on the North Saint Vrain in the canyon to the west of town as a child, and now on Highway 66 to the east. I have lived in the shadow and in the dust and noise and pollution and with the pain caused by this mining operation since childhood. I watched clouds of dust blow from the plant across the lake where my family canoed and swam. I remember how it stung my eyes. My youngest daughter developed asthma growing up directly across from the main plant entrance. My neighbor wore a dust masking when mowing to prevent breathing the dust that fell off the trucks. I wake up at 4:30 from the sound of cement trucks jake breaking. I cannot carry on a conversation in my front yard. Even at night, the noise is incessant. The plant’s lights pollute the night, and sometimes I yearn for a wall to shield me from the assault as the high beam breaks and enters through my front window. The conveyor belt tube blights the view of the mountains I love. I remember when the tube was first erected. I remember feeling the pain and shock of grotesque industrial infrastructure slamming into the familiar beloved vista of mountains majestic. I still cringe at the sight. It was suggested tonight by the Cemex plant manager (who has been here a whole year) that putting a “Welcome to Lyons” sign on that atrocity would be a possibility. How perverse, oblivious, degrading disgusting.
Why didn’t I move away?
First, because my family made a decision to stand in the way. They fought the cement plant’s original construction when I was still a child. When the cement plant was looking for someone to sell out so they could put that conveyor belt over the road, my mother took everything the family had and purchased one of the prospective properties, saving it from this violation. Our tiny farm is now home for three generations of women in our family. One house over sold out to the corporation. The line of resistance was broken and the conveyor belt went ahead above ground rather than under the highway.
Second, there is no away from your family and this land and river are my kin. They do not stop being my kin, and the land my home, when they have been violated and abused. I will always stand by them, with them and defend them. The cement plant and strip mine have blighted existence on the land for going on a half century and over a quarter century respectively, and now you tell me as I approach 60 that this horror will never end?? That the land will never be supported in healing and that Cemex will see me into my grave?!
Has anyone asked the land, asked the original peoples of this land, what they want?
Here is what I want – Cemex – Keep your word, do what is possible to heal the land you have raped and get out.