In the past two days, I have been to two upscale restaurant openings, and a meeting with the candidates for the local elections. The food was great, and the restaurants' atmosphere was better than I had ever enjoyed in the town of Ely. However, at the meeting with the candidates, I felt that some of the incumbent candidates still felt that they were living in the old Ely.
Like many old Western mining towns, Ely has had to live with the desperation of the local mine closing. When times were bad, it wouldn't have been difficult to wonder if Ely would end up another Nevada ghost town. But it didn't happen. Although the local economy is still heavily dependent upon the mine, money is coming in from tourism and growth of the retirement community.
I have been predicting for the past five years that Ely was on the verge of an economic renaissance. It didn't take a crystal ball. The town is about as far away from the big city as you can get in the United States. There are no freeways. There is no Wal Mart. There is no smog. People recognize you when you walk down the street – and you're not afraid to walk down the street. Millions of city people would love to live like this. It was just a matter of time before people started moving here.
As a relatively new resident myself, I recognize some things that the locals may not see. This place is beautiful. And unlike most of the rest of the country, so much of this vast area is so pristine.
The town is growing, ever faster – because it is such a nice place to be. The infrastructure to support a tourism industry is developing too. Just stop by Maggie's for a meal, and you'll see what I mean. So, why cripple what we have, and what we can create; for dangerous, antiquated coal fired power plants – that we don't even need?
Think about it. In just a few years, we will stop building coal fired power plants. Face it, they're dirty. Their effluents are poisonous. Clean coal is an oxymoron. This attempt to shove through over a hundred coal fired power plants onto America, is a last ditch, desperate attempt to force consumers into a dependency on coal. America will eventually catch on. Hopefully, White Pine County will catch on before our homeland is despoiled.
Yes, coal fired power plants will bring in a few hundred jobs (most of them temporary). But a beautiful and healthy homeland will eventually attract thousands of new residents and hundreds of thousands of tourists.
Ely is on the verge of becoming a major stop on a tour of the West. Think of it; San Francisco to Lake Tahoe, to Ely, to Moab, and on to either Crested Butte, Durango, Santa Fe, or the Grand Circle, and maybe Vegas. I'm not speculating. This is already happening.
So, how do we want to perceive our situation? Do we want to see our community through the eyes of the desperation of our past... or hope for our future?
White Pine County doesn't need coal fired power plants to be prosperous. But, if we have the sludge ponds and the smog, and no water, what will make us unique from the rest of the country? If we lose what makes this place special, people will stop coming here. Nevada is not a wasteland... unless we permit it to become one.