It’s not easy being green

Give Chico’s Baldwin Contracting Co. credit for chutzpah. It takes gall to argue that turning 200 acres of prime farm land into a huge open-pit gravel mine is “the sustainable thing to do,” will “reduce global warming” and is “the green thing to do.”

For the second time in a month, the company has run a full-page ad in the local daily newspaper in an effort to “greenwash” the impacts of its proposed gravel mine west of Chico.

There is some truth to the ad’s factual claims. Yes, the mine is closer than Baldwin’s current mine in Glenn County, so it would save truck miles and fossil fuel transporting aggregate to construction sites in Chico. And, yes, Baldwin would begin, in five years, to reclaim the mined land by creating “a small lake system and wildlife habitat….”

What the ad doesn’t say is that the thousands of truck trips now routed down state Highway 32 would travel instead mostly along River Road and West Fifth Street, neither of which is built for such heavy use. And those 80,000-pound behemoths would then come onto Chico’s surface streets, congesting intersections and tearing up the asphalt.

And the “small lake system and wildlife habitat"? Nobody associated with the extensive conservation efforts in the area thinks they are a good idea. The region doesn’t need a fake lake, and the risk of downstream pollution from flooding is real. Besides, it will be 30 years before this “reclamation” is completed.

Baldwin is a good company that provides a needed service. But its ad misleads people. The mine is in the wrong place. Digging up 200 acres of good farm land next to one of California’s most magnificent wildlife conservation areas is not “the green thing to do.”