California Legislature Considers Throwing Out State "Rock"


Between a rock and a ….

Never mind the Golden State's imminent fiscal meltdown and the nation's third highest unemployment rate, the folks in Sacramento clearly don't have enough to do. As evidence, consider Senate Bill 624. This bill would lift the designation of "state rock" from the mineral serpentine. As the Monterey County Herald reports, the ostensible reason for demoting serpentine to a just an ordinary rock is that it sometimes contains asbestos:

[State Sen. Gloria] Romero, a Los Angeles Democrat, says [the bill SB 624] aimed at "raising awareness to protect the health of our citizens. Serpentine contains asbestos, a known carcinogen. Toxic materials have no place serving as emblems for the state."

The Herald, however, notes that geologists are rallying to the defense of the mineral: 

The problem with SB 624 is that it flatly equates serpentine with deadly asbestos, even though geologists say that's incorrect. Geology websites have been buzzing with the criticism, pointing out that while serpentine rocks may contain chrysotile, most do not.

"It occurs in serpentine, sometimes," says Garry Hayes, a Modesto Junior College geology teacher and former regional president of the National Association of Geoscience Teachers.

So who would want to demonize magnesium iron silicate hydroxide? The trial lawyers, that's who. The language in the bill was provided by the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, an anti-asbestos group whose major sponsors are law firms specializing in asbestos litigation. The Herald concludes:

Were SB 624 to become law, declaring serpentine as carcinogenic, it could widen the opportunities for lawsuits against owners of property with naturally occurring outcroppings of serpentine. And it's become a new skirmish in the perennial war between personal injury lawyers and the business-backed Civil Justice Association of California.

"I've heard that personal injury lawyers will leave no stone unturned in their hunt for new cases, but this is ridiculous," says John Sullivan, the association's president.

California: The Laughingstock State.

Note: Defenders of serpentine have used the hashtag #CAserpentine to rally support for the state rock and inform the public debate.

NEXT: Sickness or Salvation at the CRU?

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  1. Prop 64 required such a degree of “wolf” crying that I understand one establishment complied by signing, approximately “We are proud to announce that we have [whatever], which is known to the State of Calif. to cause cancer.”

    1. Is that the one that requires CANCER signs at hotel front desks? I remember that from living there briefly and working one of those shit jobs and having to explain the silliness to out-of-towners.

    2. Just give the asbestos a wide birth. Like avoiding a smoking area and you will be fine.

      Oh, you think smoking areas should be banned? Sniff up!

  2. “Toxic materials have no place serving as emblems for the state.”

    Well that disqualifies 99% of legislators.

    1. How many states use DHMO in their emblem?

  3. So to be safe from litigation are property owners going to have strip mine any potentially exposed serpentine deposits off their land? Or would that just free any asbestos, so they’re damned if they do and damned if they don’t?

    “Toxic materials have no place serving as emblems for the state.”

    So you’re going to have no emblems for your state, as every substance in existance is toxic, depending on the dose.

    1. They must sequester their asbestos laden land with a biodegradable permanent sealer.

  4. so will this stimulate the economy by increasing employment in the serpentine-siding removal sectors, or..? ‘cuz i’m shovelready, sayin’…

    1. Stop shoveling until the check is in hand!

  5. Consider this forwarded to my Berkeley liberal friend. 🙂

  6. (I’m assuming this is Welch’s work.)

    Geez, Matt, shilling for Big ASSbestos now? Just admit it, you want to require children to wear asbestos sleepwear so they don’t catch on fire, don’t you, you nanny?

    1. sage: I would have thought that the lame alt.text would have given the authorship away. 🙂

      1. No, that was actually not bad. But as long as I’m here:

        Caption Contest!

        “Hey, vote for me. I’m smarter than those people running the state!”

        1. “And less hazardous to your health.”

      2. It’s not lame at all. You may not have intended it, but the phrase “current state rock” is just inherently funny.

        I lived in California until just a few years ago and I didn’t even know we had a state rock.

        1. +1 “current state rock” as opposed to past or future state, LOL!

          I lived in California until just a few years ago and I didn’t even know we had a state rock.

          Stupid me, I thought it was gold.

      3. Ron, at least you’re writing alt-text now. Baby steps, man.

      4. Call me shocked. Exxon owns asbestos?

  7. Laughingstock State for sure. When is it going to end and what will it resemble when it does end? California already dictates most warning labels on everything now. I guess we should all join the VTBO Party. Vote The Bums Out. Not just in the Laughingstock State, but in every state.

    1. Vote The Bums Out. Not just in the Laughingstock State, but in every state.

      Yes, but not just “The Bums.” Vote them all out.

      1. the diference being….

        1. … “my guy is not a ‘bum.'”

          1. I feel like that’s the real issue for incumbency. Everyone pretty much believes that politicians (in general) are scum

            To many people remain convinced that their own guy is a magic exception to that rule.

  8. There is nothing banal enough for politicians to not get retarded about it. Nothing.

    1. Hey now, this thing might have serious tiger-repelling qualities.

      1. What about the bears? I demand to get the most for my bear taxes.

  9. And BTW things would be much easier for all of us if pi were equal to 3.

  10. Here’s some more stupidity straight outa CA:

    SF considering bottled water ban at events

    1. Do they have the 3 shells installed in the bathrooms in SF yet?

  11. Dude, that makes a LOT of sense.

    More like rocks in their HEADS!


  12. Legislators have found fundamental antagonisms everywhere:
    Between the property owner and the worker. Between capital and labor. Between the common people and the bourgeoisie. Between agriculture and industry. Between the farmer and the city-dweller. Between the native-born and the foreigner. Between the producer and the consumer. Between civilization and the social order. To sum it all up in a single phrase:

    Between personal liberty and a harmonious social order.

  13. Where on earth would bloodsucking lawyers be without asbestos?

    They should carry it through the streets on a golden chair. Hail asbestos!

  14. Not to nit pick, but I think this column came from the Sacramento Bee’s Dan Walters.…..mi_rss=Dan Walters

    Credit where credit is due and all….

    1. Dan Walters is an excellent journalist.

  15. My God, dissing a rock for containing asbestos is like never posting anything that raises questions about libertariaism… Oh.

    1. Asbestos Lasagna


      * 2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
      * 1 cup ricotta cheese
      * 1 egg
      * 1/4 cup white sugar
      * 1 teaspoon almond extract
      * 2 (21 ounce) cans asbestos
      * 8 lasagne noodles, cooked and drained
      * 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
      * 6 tablespoons packed brown sugar
      * 1/4 cup quick cooking oats
      * 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
      * 1 pinch ground nutmeg
      * 3 tablespoons butter
      * 1 cup sour cream
      * 1/3 cup packed brown sugar


      1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
      2. Combine Cheddar cheese, ricotta cheese, egg, white sugar, and almond extract in a medium bowl. Blend well. Spread one can asbestos over the bottom of a greased 9×13 inch pan. Layer with half of the noodles, and then the cheese mixture. Layer again with remaining noodles, and the second can of asbestos.
      3. Combine flour, 6 tablespoons brown sugar, oats, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a small bowl. Cut in butter until crumbly. Sprinkle over top.
      4. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes.
      5. Meanwhile, prepare garnish by blending sour cream and 1/3 cup brown sugar in small bowl until smooth. Cover, and refrigerate. Serve warm asbestos lasagna with sour cream garnish.

  16. This is talismanic to a degree that boggles the mind. Where can I have a serpentine pendant made to ward off legislators?

    The two must useful materials I have known in my life are probably asbestos and Freon TF.

    (They’ll get my stocks of either when they pry when from my cold dead mesotheliomic hands.)

  17. Hey, does anyone know what the State Rock’s position on abortion, AGW or taxation?

    I mean, would this rock feel just as comfortable sitting on Sarah Palin’s Bible as it would be photographed next to Henry Waxman’s nose?

    I need more info. What does Matt Lauer say?

  18. No Serpentine Fire comments? Earth, Wind, & Fire?

  19. Trial lawyers are a cancer on society. Maybe we should sue…

    1. Until you need one, that is…

  20. I’m pretty sure that it is not carcinogenic in rock form…. The rocks have to be mined and crushed by machine, the asbestos component separated & extracted, and further manufactured into fibrous material, which then must become airborne and inhaled in order to harm people (Which means potentially harmful exposure is usually limited to the manufacturing process of the product itself or the handling/processing of the product during installation).
    I can think of rocks that would be much more harmful to humans if they were to be pulverized and inhaled, such as Uranium.
    I would be perfectly comfortable using serpentine as a chair, pillow, toilet seat, or even a dinner plate everyday for the rest of my life, as the odds of me getting mesothelioma would not increase in the slightest.

  21. LOL, looks like someone has a wee bit too much spare time on their hands.

  22. Been to Phoenix, Arizona
    All the way to Tacoma,
    Philadelphia, Atlanta, L. A.,

    Northern California where the asbestos is warm,
    So I could hear my sweetin baby say

    Keep on state rockin’ me baby
    Keep on state rockin’ me baby
    Keep on state rockin’ me baby,
    baby baby baby

  23. Ok, where do we attach the label?
    “WARNING: California contains a chemical known to the State of California to cause cancer.”

  24. At least our Senator is bringing good jobs to the state:

    Dear Friend:

    Last week the U.S. Department of Transportation announced new investments in California mass transit that will create jobs, reduce commute times, and improve air quality.

    DOT will provide nearly $19 million for four California regional bus services, including $5 million the Orange County Transit Agency’s Anaheim Regional Intermodal Transit Center project.

    When completed, the Anaheim Regional Intermodal Transit Center will be a premier regional, multimodal transportation hub in Orange County. It will be constructed on a 16-acre site along State Route 57 and the Los Angeles to San Diego rail line, in close proximity to the Santa Ana Freeway (I-5).

    The first phase of this project will include 66,000 square feet of transit facility, necessary track and bridge work, parking, and utility relocation. The completion of the Phase 1 station is expected in 2013.

    I am so pleased that the Department of Transportation has funded this vital project. This investment will create jobs in construction and transit, reduce commute times for both buses and private automobiles, and improve air quality by helping get more people out of their cars and onto an improved transit system.


    Barbara Boxer
    United States Senator

  25. I seriously doubt any trial lawyer is planning on using this for a case. Asbestos in rock form is not carcinogenic. Claiming that you were in danger because serpentine was nearby your residence could be easily dismissed in court.

    1. I think you misunderstand the MO of the modern trial lawyer. They don’t need to win their cases, they just have to get enough of a grounds that the case doesn’t get thrown out on its ear right off the bat. They then make settling with them slightly less expensive than fighting the case.

      1. That’s what I’m saying, I doubt the case would get past any preliminary hearing.

  26. I respectfully disagree with the last sentence. Michigan is the laughingstock state.

  27. I’m thinking of moving. Would somebody from a non-laughingstock state give me a recommendation? Anyone?

  28. Fine crop of pussies you’re growin’ out there, California. What kinda fertilizer do ya use?

  29. Would somebody from a non-laughingstock state give me a recommendation? Anyone?

    Well, if you want a job and don’t want to pay income tax, there’s always Texas. Sure, our governor is a joke, but hey, if you’re gonna insist on a governor who isn’t, you’re pretty much stuck with New Jersey.

  30. As long as they’re arguing over the State Rock, the Citizens are a little more protected from the legislature screwing them some more.

    Shouldn’t the State rock be Iron Pyrite – Fool’s Gold?

  31. it’s strange of the stone IFDFBEBUD

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