California Fights Over State Rock
It contains asbestos, and lawmakers want to defrock it
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 17, 2010 10:12 AM CDT
Garry Hayes, a geology teacher at Modesto City College, displays an example of a serpentine rock in his classroom in Modesto, Calif., Wednesday, July 14, 2010.   (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

(Newser) – You'd think California lawmakers would have enough to worry about, but then comes this: A pitched battle over the state rock. The serpentine has quietly held the title since 1965, explains the San Francisco Chronicle, but because it contains asbestos, lawmakers are considering a bill to defrock it as a symbolic gesture against the carcinogen.

Scientists are fighting mad. "It's a wonderful state rock because it has got this great natural, social and scientific history in California," says an environmental historian. Pshaw, says the state senator who introduced the bill. "This isn't against serpentine. It's about asbestos. Why in a health-conscious state like California do we have a state rock that is related to asbestos?"