Don’t Take Away Our State Rock
Recently, there has been a lot of controversy over California’s Senate passing a bill to take away “State Rock” status from Serpentine. The reason being that it is supposedly a cancer risk. There has caused a large uproar from the public including knowledgeable geologists who point out these claims are based on faulty science. Most serpentine does not contain the carcinogen asbestos that is the supposed reason for the law. The small amount (especially in California) of serpentine that does contain small amounts of asbestos might only be dangerous if you were to grind it up into powder and snort it.
What makes Serpentine important is that it creates a soil that is toxic to many plants (not humans). Those plants that have adapted to living on this soil are rather unique. There are over 200 species in California that grow on serpentine soil, which includes 10 per cent of our endemic plants (plants that grow only in California).
Who is behind this legislation? It may be a group of attorneys who handle asbestos cases. For more information you can read the following articles:
A geologist’s perspective and large list of articles on the issue: Serpentine: A Group of Minerals
In Discover Magazine: Unscientific California: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Serpentine and Biodiversity
In the Times-Standard: Brandon Schwab Geologist
Current status of law Geotripper: http://geotripper.blogspot.com/2010/08/serpentine-nazis-serial-killer-hatred.html
An article in the Imperial Valley about the possible link to a litigation lobby behind Senator Romero’s proposal: Our Opinion: Between a rock and a hard place
Even conservative lawyers oppose the bill: Andrew’s Geology Blog: The Law Against Serpentine: The Attorneys’ Arena
If you want to know what you can do look at: Sheril Kirshenbuams’ blog: The Intersection
On YouTube, you can even find a Serpentine protest song