A petition calling on Gardner Company to cut off its support to a controversial frac sand mine outside Kanab has picked up over 2,600 signatures.
A member of the citizens’ opposition group Keep Kanab Unspoiled launched the petition two weeks ago. The group is a project of the Taxpayer Association of Kane County, a non-profit organization in the area.
The proposed mining project is run by Southern Red Sands. The recently rebranded mining operation told KUER that Gardner Company — the real estate company owned by prominent businessman Kem C. Gardner — is one of its principal investors. The petition comes one month after both the city of Kanab and Kane County approved deals with the mining company despite public outcry.
Dean Baker is the Kanab resident who started the petition and a senior economist with the Center for Economic and Policy Research, a left-leaning economic policy think tank based in Washington, D.C. He says the mining project is inconsistent with Gardner Company’s commitments to “community” and “sustainability.”
“That’s really what this is about — to try to get him and his company to see: this is a really bad idea. You don’t want to be involved in it,” he said.
Public business records from the Utah Division of Corporations and Commercial Code indicate that there may be some overlap between Gardner Company and Southern Red Sands: the two share an office address in Salt Lake City.
When asked to clarify its relationship with the mining operation, Gardner Company referred KUER to Southern Red Sands.
In a statement to KUER, Southern Red Sands CEO M. Chad Staheli said the company is “committed to projects that meet or exceed regulatory standards, are financially viable, and enhance the social well-being of the respective communities,” adding that they will address “reasonable issues regarding its activities” and “legitimate, thoughtful inquiries.”
David Fuchs is a Report for America corps member who reports from KUER's Southwest Bureau in St. George.