Razing Arizona: Keep the state's hands off the Grand Canyon

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Arizona is acting like a state that wants to be a nation.

There's a potentially harmful initiative on the November ballot that asks voters to amend the Arizona Constitution in an attempt to take jurisdiction over the Grand Canyon. That's right, Arizona lawmakers want to lay claim to 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 the titles to federal lands and outlined procedures for selling it off to private owners.

Paul Bender, a constitutional law professor at Arizona State University, told Bloomberg Businessweek that the referendum amounts to "partial secession," adding, "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, particularly because of federal land management practices and environmental regulation. 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.

Let's hope Arizona voters reject this referendum as the threat that it is toward one of our national treasures.

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