PLAN recently sponsored a Water over Gold essay contest in which students engaged in a conversation about the impacts of mining on our water and communities. A three-judge panel awarded top prizes to Katie Sitton from Nevada State College and Jade Utterback from West Career and Technical Academy.

Pipeline view from above 2016

Barrick Gold’s Pipeline mine as seen from the Cortez Hills mine (Photo PLAN)

“We could not be happier with the thoughtful and well-researched essays we received from all the participants and want to thank community leaders and teachers for encouraging students to get involved” said PLAN Las Vegas organizer, Erika Castro.

In their essays, students expressed their disappointment in the failure of the government to act in the best interest of regular Nevadans, instead offering tax breaks to transnational corporations. Currently, Nevada is the top gold producer in the US and one of the largest in the world all while enjoying rock bottom tax rates.

Students were also critical of mining’s impact on their communities’ water and expressed concern about the generations to come. Contest winner Jade Utterback wrote, “Nevada, possessing a warm, dry, desert climate, is already facing serious problems in terms of water accessibility due to the severe drought. We can’t risk polluting our already-limited water resources from mining gold.” Read Jade’s full essay here.

Reese River 2016

The mighty Reese River (Photo PLAN)

While the essay contest focused on the importance of water over gold, many students dug deeper to address other negative impacts from mining including erosion, ecosystem disruptions, and health hazards. They offered ways to raise awareness about irresponsible mining among their peers and community, and the need to become responsible consumers.

Nevada students showed they care about their community and its future. College student and contest winner Katie Sitton ended her essay with a question. “Most people may argue in favor of the mining industry, saying that they are great for the economy and create jobs, but is it really worth it to leave this planet in declining conditions for our future generations?” Read Katie’s full essay here.

Here at PLAN we echo essay judge and former Senator Sheila Leslie who stated, “I enjoyed reading the student essays about the impact mining has on Nevada’s lands and people. These students already understand that our future depends on doing a better job protecting our natural resources and balancing the need for jobs with the negative and sometimes hidden costs of mining in our state.”