President Trump has proposed the revival of the frontier spirit, and called for the building of 10 new cities—“Freedom Cities” on federal land in the West—and a contest to design and site them. “Almost one-third of the landmass of the United States is owned by the federal government,” Donald Trump said. “With just a fraction of that land . . . we should hold a contest to charter up to ten new cities and award them to the best proposals for development.”
The following thoughts are a contribution to a conversation among Americans on this exciting initiative. The payoffs will be enormous, socially, and culturally! Here the focus is on physical economic aspects. See what you think.
Key to the siting of these ten cities is the potential role that each of these cities—or a developing network of such cities—will play in the US physical economy, and therefore productive employment. Their viability will depend on water, a tie-up with the national transportation grid, and food. Over the coming decades, NAWAPA and similar great infrastructure projects will be important for us to consider. We must build-out our national rail system again. In terms of agriculture and food supply, the Great Plains are already an abundant source of America’s food supply and can grow with further energy and water inputs. As well, the “Freedom Cities” that President Trump proposes are an opportunity for developing advanced urban-based indoor agriculture, in a rich interplay with the development of advanced agricultural techniques on the ISS and looking towards the colonization of the Moon and Mars with President Trump’s and NASA’s Artemis Project.
Filling in the “Empty Quarter”
Trump is talking about 10 cities, so how would this enrich the agricultural lands of the Great Plains and how would these new cities intersect the Western states, as well as the broader, existing economic landscape of the US? Broad public deliberations on the construction of Trump’s new “Freedom Cities” in the West will begin to bring forth new ideas and potentials. It will certainly be a critical driver to filling America’s “empty quarter,” with energy and water infrastructure, industry, and nuplexes, and productive and happy people.
In the Plains region, there has been the “NAFTA highway” initiative and then the related proposals for North-South oriented rail development of the Great Plains region—with rail, fiber optics, oil & natural gas transport, in addition to highways. This was termed the Mid-Continental Trade and Transportation Corridor. My good friend and mentor, Dr. Hal Cooper, was much involved in this effort.
My article in EIR magazine, on the importance and means for knitting our nation together following the 2020 riots, is a good overview, with a lot of useful maps and a range of proposals that have been made.
To adequately serve and develop the central region of the US, a dense, modern rail grid will have to be built. The so-called “empty quarter” is starkly revealed in this map of at-grade crossings of main railroad tracks, taken from the Highway-Rail Crossing Inventory in 2015.
As with the “Mid-Continental Trade and Transportation Corridor” running North-South, it is also a requirement that we build out—in many cases rebuild—a high speed rail system, with a broad net, connecting the West to the East, and vice versa. An entire series of maps, reprinted from a 2002 EIR report, is in the October 16, 2020 EIR. These maps show withering away of rail lines throughout these western states—freight, passenger, and local—a situation which is just as stunning today as in 2002.
The late Dr. Hal Cooper was an almost boundless source of insights into these and related issues.
WATER is Critical
No city can be sustained without potable water!
My Sept. 18, 2022 video presentation (along with Pat Ruckert on the western states drought) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kX0Vub9jjHk focused on utilizing advanced energy technologies for water development in the Great Plains. In the northern tier of the empty quarter, there are the states of Idaho, Montana, the Dakotas. Running through this region is the mighty Missouri River, fed by tributaries, moving east, and then swinging south.
Having roughly one-fourth of the nation’s agricultural land, the Missouri River watershed demands a Missouri River Basin Authority to fully realize the full potential of the 1944 Pick-Sloan Plan for flood control, irrigation, and hydroelectric power generation.
Our Idaho National Laboratory is now home to first-of-their kind small modular reactor (SMR) projects, in collaboration with private companies. Montana might then be a natural location for SMR factories, utilizing assembly line techniques, already being planned to produce advanced power plants for the nation. The Missouri River as well as rail would provide transportation, into and out of these plants.
The potential of this region was covered in my 2020 EIR article linked above, including some initial thoughts on the potential for building-out “new” cities out of already existing small communities that exist in our Northern Tier. As well, much of this land in this northern tier consists of federal land and tribal lands.
Let’s now look at the “Colorado Plateau” and it’s resources, which include the Colorado River and a major aquifer.
The Colorado Plateau
Where to build cities? In addition to the northern tier, mentioned above, another thought: the “Colorado Plateau.”
Wikipedia - public domain
Among the first areas that comes to mind in thinking about President Trump’s proposal for ten new cities is the “Colorado Plateau,” an area of some 130,000 square miles, rich in resources and federal land. The Colorado Plateau is centered on the four corners area of the Southwest, which includes much of Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico. The current population, of the entire area, is somewhat over 2 million people.
The Colorado Plateau is among the most mineral rich areas of our nation. For example, the Colorado Plateau physiographic region is the largest uranium province in the United States, and actually one of the largest in the world. Uranium, often accompanied by vanadium, has been mined from the Plateau since the 1940s, and our only actively operating domestic uranium mill is in this region.
In addition, and perhaps better known, there is coal, petroleum, and natural gas. Major coal deposits are being mined in the Colorado Plateau in Utah, Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico. There is also the “Iron Mountain District” of southwestern Utah, currently little utilized.
Importantly, there are important educational institutions that can be tapped (in addition to the Idaho National Laboratory, up in the northern tier). The Colorado School of Mines, informally called “Mines,” is a public research university located in Golden, Colorado, founded in 1874. The school offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees in engineering, science, and mathematics. And the Colorado Plateau is a natural laboratory for a wide range of scientific studies. The Colorado School of Mines students are already being tapped for research on energy and mining on the Moon.
In the southwest corner of the Colorado Plateau lies the Grand Canyon of the Colorado River. Much of the Plateau’s landscape is related to the Grand Canyon in both appearance and geologic history. There are nine US National Parks, a National Historical Park, nineteen US National Monuments and dozens of wilderness areas along with millions of acres in US National Forests, many state parks, and other protected lands. In fact, this region is said to have the highest concentration of parklands in North America. Trump wants to build cities on federal lands.
At its lowest point, the Colorado Plateau is around 2,000 feet above sea level at the surface of the Colorado River as it runs through the Grand Canyon, and reaches heights of over 12,000 feet at its highest points in the Henry and La Sal Mountains in southeastern Utah. A rain shadow from the Sierra Nevada far to the west and the many ranges of the Basin and Range means that the Colorado Plateau receives six to sixteen inches (15 to 40 cm) of annual precipitation. The Colorado Plateau is largely made up of high desert, with scattered areas of forests. Higher areas receive more precipitation and are covered in forests of pine, fir, and spruce.
In the southern and lower elevations, temperatures range from the low 20s (degrees Fahrenheit) in the winter to the lower and mid 90s in the summer. At mid and upper elevations, temperatures range from the low 60s and 70s in the summer, to the single digits and low teens in the winter. Multi-decadal drought cycles are linked to Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), which is an index of sea surface temperatures in the northern Pacific. Geologically, despite its unique and rugged features, the Colorado Plateau is recognized as very stable.
State-owned lands are listed under the “Protected Lands” of this link.
There would be the obvious question of water development for the region. The Colorado River and tributaries flow through, but what else? Well, the “Colorado Plateaus Aquifers” system is about 110,000 square miles in size and underlies large portions of western Colorado, northwestern New Mexico, northeastern Arizona, and eastern Utah. Much of the land in this sparsely populated region, “is underlain by rocks that contain aquifers capable of yielding usable quantities of water of a quality suitable for most agricultural or domestic use. Here is the map of the Colorado Plateau Aquifers. More can be learned here.
The question of water, in the development of cities on the Colorado Plateau, and in the adjoining Great Plains region, again raises the importance of NAWAPA, the proposed North American Water and Power Alliance project. Here, again is the link to the LaRouchePAC page on a nuclear-driven NAWAPA.
Partnership between Government and the Private Sector
We know that Trump is intent on developing such cooperation, purely on the basis of proposing to site these cities on federal lands. He proposes a contest to come up with the best proposals to build them, throwing this initiative upon the public, as well as to entrepreneurial initiatives. In addition, cooperation with educational institutions, and the development of new science-oriented campuses, will be an important part of these projects, evoking the frontier spirit in ever-new forms, and evoking that optimism and creativity which will enter into the cultural life of all our citizens.
This points to the importance of abundant public credit, not only to build “the big stuff,” but new infusions of lines-of-credit into local community and regional banks, to finance local business activity and the construction of beautiful housing and apartments, as Trump has called for. We must always promote the general welfare, with manufacturing and commercial activity that grows, with new innovations in scientific and technological progress.
Trump’s Freedom Cities Are the Antidote
Trump’s proposal also happens to be an antidote to a number of “woke” initiatives already floating about. Trump is proposing productive, energy-dense cities, aesthetically pleasing in the classical sense, and promoting reasonably priced and “beautiful” homes for working families—all of which is needed to promote a baby boom.
This is directly contrary to the green dystopian nightmare of zero-growth, net zero carbon, and “smart cities” promoted by Silicon Valley et al. For example, the grandiose and weird-looking “Telosa,” a proposed city to eventually “sustain” several million people. It is promoted by billionaire Marc Lore and architect Bjarke Ingels. They’re pitching their scheme as “Equitism,” to be powered by unworkable “renewable” energy and costing over $400 billion.
There is a “smart city” project by Bill Gates called “Belmont,” sited on 24,800 acres in a desert area near Buckeye, AZ, and near Phoenix. Then there is Jeffrey Berns, founder of Blockchains, and he has a proposal for Nevada. He’s lobbying the state to let companies—like his—create their own legal governments/fiefdoms on land they own, with power over everything from schools to law enforcement. Digital currency would rule, and denizens would log their entire online footprint—financial statements, medical records, and personal data—onto blockchain. Sound like a long shot, Las Vegas gamble?
New Cities Are Being Built
There are many new efforts, of new cities actually being built around the world, but none sound the clarion call of President Trump’s “Freedom Cities,” challenging us to take America to the next frontier, to create a “quantum leap in the American standard of living.” This is nation-building once again, in which today’s young people are becoming tomorrow's parents, proud housewives, manufacturers, educators, agricultural producers, doctors, and scientists—and all of them decision-makers.
Elon Musk has already sited the SpaceX South Texas launch site—spaceport—at the unincorporated town of Boca Chica, TX. It has been widely reported that Musk’s plan is to create a new city there, “Starbase, Texas.” It would house all those who work at the launch site, those who intend to fly on the rocket, and be a tourist destination for those wanting to witness the awesome power of a launch. Eventually, Musk hopes, it will be the point of departure for people traveling to Mars. What could be next?