At About.com, I have celebrated serpentinite (the rock commonly called serpentine) for many years as a rock-lover. I'm upset about California's Senate Bill 624, which removes serpentine as the state rock, as a rock-lover. That's an educational issue. But the Civil Justice Association of California, conservative group that works against its idea of frivolous lawsuits, recognizes the legal havoc that SB624 could cause
. In fact, I recognized it myself yesterday as I visited the Oakland Museum of California, where serpentinite boulders are part of the decor. Once a panicked parent complains about serpentine, when even the idea of such a complaint arises, educational institutions will be pulled unwillingly into this legal/political battle. SB624's sponsors are mesothelioma lawyers setting a trap by having the state declare that serpentine, in and of itself, is a carcinogen. This will allow them to rack up billable hours in court whenever anyonea landowner who wants to shut down a noisy historic railroad line, the owner of a rural hilltop palace who wants developers out of his viewshed, opponents of a new highwayis willing to invoke the "A-word" asbestos on their behalf.
Yes, this is a California issue. But think about your own state and its state rock or its state mineral. Why should Kentucky celebrate "filthy coal" as its state mineral? Should the dreaded lead ore galena be forced down the children's throats of Missouri? Because airborne quartz dust causes silicosis, will devious activists dethrone quartz in Georgia, Arkansas, South Dakota and elsewhere?