Fluor’s business model is dependent on ignoring ‘externalities’ – the significant, largely negative effects business operations have on the local environment, local people and the climate at large. Another way of describing this is to invoke what Naomi Klein and many others have called “sacrifice zones,” or “places that, to their extractors, somehow don’t count and therefore can be poisoned, drained or, or otherwise destroyed, for the supposed greater good of economic progress.”  This is an apt description of what Fluor does—and profits from—all over the world. And in the context of Arizona, what Fluor and its team want to do is to turn South Mountain into such a “sacrifice zone” – sacrificing an O’odham sacred site, the health of the Gila River Indian Community and the health of all Phoenix Valley residents.
It’s true that many companies across the world benefit from externalities and sacrifice zones. But Fluor has a higher—and more negative—profile than many. The company has faced allegations of human trafficking, war profiteering, providing support to repressive governments, significant abuse of taxpayer dollars and improper lobbying. It is also connected to numerous operations where indigenous people, farmers and activists have been violently repressed—and even murdered—in order to push projects forward. And Fluor unquestionably contributes to environmental degradation and human-induced climate change across the globe.
Less than 20 miles from Yanacocha, Fluor is contracted to work with Newmont on the $5 billion Conga gold and copper mine. The project is currently on hold after intense protests from locals, many of whom were also violently repressed by security and police forces.  Locals have had good reason to be concerned. According to one journalist, the project “would affect between 3,000-16,000 hectares of fragile mountaintop wetlands including numerous lakes, rivers and marshes that supply the region’s drinking water.”  When locals refused to sell or give up land wanted for the mine, they reported beatings and intimidation by police and security forces. Private security forces tore down the homes of activists and in 2012, Peruvian police shot and killed five people protesting the mine, including a teenage boy.  The Peruvian government declared a state of emergency (aka Marshal Law) to halt the protests.  It is ironic that Fluor prides itself on its ethics, yet profits from the extensive repression of local resistance in Latin America and elsewhere. 
Fluor has worked on many other major controversial mining projects. For example, Fluor has done extensive work on Rio Tinto’s extremely controversial QMM mineral sands operation in Madagascar.  At that project, local protesters took 200 mine workers hostage, protesting the environmental and social destruction the mine would cause. According to some estimates, the project will destroy over 1600 hectares (over 3900 areas) of forest. 
Fluor has also frequently partnered with mining giant Rio Tinto in Mongolia, Africa, Australia and elsewhere. Many Arizonans might recognize Rio Tinto as the company that has long been lobbying the US government to allow it to construct a massive copper mine near Superior, AZ.  In 2015, Rio Tinto and its business partners managed to get a land transfer deal into the Defense Authorization Act, which would allow it to mine on previously restricted land.  Yet the San Carlos Apache tribe and other tribes in the area have thus far successfully opposed the project, as it would destroy numerous sacred sites and recreation areas.  If constructed, the project would likely create a crater two miles wide and a thousand feet deep.
In the Middle East, Fluor has also constructed numerous oil, gas and chemical projects for the brutally repressive government of Saudi Arabia, as well as the government of the United Arab Emirates, which is notorious for using indentured labor from South Asia on its construction projects.  
As one of the largest contractors in the US efforts to ‘rebuild’ Iraq and Afghanistan, Fluor has made billions from these projects of war and occupation.  These efforts have been notoriously rife with corruption and abuse, and significant portions of the more than $110 billion the US has spent on infrastructure and security in these countries has simply disappeared into contractors’ pockets. As many journalists have noted, privatization and the complex subcontracting models used by mega-contractors means billions go missing while roads are being built to nowhere, and buildings are never completed. Yet contractors like Fluor remain unaccountable. 
In Afghanistan, Fluor provides services in construction, security, logistics, and even basic needs like laundry and security. It is difficult to track Fluor’s total contribution to the waste. What is known is that In 2015, three whistleblowers went to court claiming Fluor lost “tens of millions of dollars” in US government property in Afghanistan. 
Fluor’s penchant for taking advantage of disasters isn’t limited to its overseas operations. The company was one of four major contractors to help ‘rebuild’ New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Fluor won several ‘no-bid’ contracts from FEMA to provide (the now-infamous) trailers and other services.  A Homeland Security report found that these contracts “wasted millions,” after the total value of the four contracts was raised from $2 to $3 billion.  While many thousands of people were forced to flee their homes and became permanently displaced, Fluor raked in profits from these no-bid, sweetheart deals.
The state of Arizona is sinking $1.75 billion dollars into a project led by a contractor that has repeatedly shown extreme contempt for local people and the planet. While Arizonans cannot be sure the price tag for Loop 202 will increase, they can bank on Fluor to continue its record of environmentally and socially disastrous contracting and engineering. If Arizonans oppose human-induced climate change, if they support the right of local communities to make decisions about their well-being, if they oppose the influence of gigantic corporations on the political process, they should oppose the state’s deal with Fluor.