Arizona is acting like a state that wants to be a nation.
A potentially harmful initiative on the November ballot asks voters to amend the Arizona Constitution in an effort to take jurisdiction over the Grand Canyon. That’s right: Arizona lawmakers want to claim one of the seven natural wonders of the world, so they can open up millions of acres to livestock grazing, logging, mining and who knows what else.
Even Republican Gov. Jan Brewer, who became a poster child for state sovereignty by signing Arizona’s controversial 2010 immigration law, vetoed an earlier legislative attempt that demanded titles to federal lands and outlined procedures for selling them to private owners.
Paul Bender, a constitutional law professor at Arizona State University, said the referendum amounts to “partial secession.” He said: “If you want to start a war, this is the way.”
There has been a resurgence among western states, including Arizona, to seek control of federal land within their borders. They complain about federal land management practices and environmental regulation.
Yet even Americans with little interest in issues of federal jurisdiction or environmental protection are bound to object if the Grand Canyon is befouled and exploited for financial gain. Arizona voters should reject this referendum as a threat to one of our national treasures.