How NAFTA Ate the West

Ravaged From the Yukon to Chiapas

As the fortunes of the ranchers decline, those of the gold companies are on the rise. Small ranchers were always the mining companies’ most irksome foes. Gold mines, in particular, consume enormous quantities of water. But ranchers have held the water rights on public lands, and have represented the most effective grassroots opposition to the mining companies and their noxious practices. Ranchers can certainly ravage the land, but big mining companies make even worse messes and end up with title (at $5 an acre, courtesy of the 1872 Mining Law) in the bargain.

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Jeffrey St. Clair is editor of CounterPunch. His most recent book is An Orgy of Thieves: Neoliberalism and Its Discontents (with Alexander Cockburn). He can be reached at: sitka@comcast.net or on Twitter @JeffreyStClair3

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