Commission reverses effort to bury ordinance, Special meeting March 14
With help from the Law Center and its members, affected community members have a chance to push for a three year moratorium on uranium mining in McKinley County.
Click to read meeting noticeA special meeting on uranium mining is scheduled before the McKinley County Commission on Tuesday, March 14 at 1:30 pm.
Time: 1:30 PM - 2:30 PM
Location: McKinley Courthouse, 3rd floor in Commissioner Chambers
Address: 207 W. Hill, Gallup, NM 87301 (map)
Members of the public are strongly encouraged to attend.
This meeting comes after the Law Center threatened to sue the Commission for violating the state’s Open Meetings Act. In violation of the law, the commission had put the moratorium on the agenda of a little-publicized meeting on January 3; after telling community advocates that the moratorium would be heard on January 10. See case page.
Despite its failure to meet critical requirements, the massive Santolina juggernaut continues to roll over county approval processes. In January, the Bernalillo County Planning Commission gave its recommendation to approve the B.1 Level Master Plan from the developer.
The Law Center already has lodged its appeal of the Planning Commission’s recommendation with the Bernalillo County Commission, which will be the next body to consider the Level B plans.
Join us at Santa Fe’s own Sweetwater Harvest Kitchen all through March 2% of each cash purchase will be donated to the Law Center!
It’s a delicious way to support environmental protection in New Mexico. See you there!
Sweetwater Harvest Kitchen
1512 Pacheco Street (map)
Santa Fe, New Mexico 87505
Law Center Staff Attorney Jaimie Park and Executive Director Douglas Meiklejohn continue to challenge Bernalillo County’s efforts to approve the 90,000 person Santolina development, which is proposed for Albuquerque’s west side.
Fresh off defeating a third attempt by the developer to knock our appeal of Santolina’s “Level A” approvals out of state District Court, Staff Attorney Jaimie Park challenged a preliminary recommendation for the “Level B” approvals in mid-January.
You can read our appeal along with background information on the Santolina case page.
For years, the Law Center our clients and others have fought a practice by the City of Albuquerque and Bernalillo County to permit air polluting facilities—asphalt batch plants, concrete bagging plants, petrochemical facilities—in low-income neighborhoods of color.
And when we say fight, we mean it: decision-makers refuse even to admit that air quality problems exist in neighborhoods like San Jose, which is home to 1% of the County’s population but a whopping 28% of its air pollution permits.
SANTA FE, N.M. — With President Trump’s announcement today of Judge Neil Gorsuch as his nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court, the New Mexico Environmental Law Center - a nonprofit law firm whose attorneys have worked for 30 years to protect vulnerable communities from environmental harm - urges the U.S. Senate to vote against the nomination.
NMELC staff believe that the appointment of Judge Gorsuch will create a Court that does little to stand in the way of a concerted rollback of more than 60 years of federal environmental protections.
NMELC clients Esther and Steven Abeyta share how you can help fight for clean air for all:
Hello my friend,
I hope this message finds you well. The reason I am writing you today is to invite you to attend on Wednesday, January 11, 2017 (see notice) the Honstein Oil Air Permit hearing finally after four years on the appeal we filed.
A briefing on Honstein Oil. Honstein is a bulk petroleum facility in the community of San Jose located at 101 Anderson SE, right across the street from families’ residential homes. The reason it has taken four years for Steven, Juan, myself, Eric Jantz and Jon Block Attorneys with New Mexico Environmental Law Center to have a hearing in front of the Air Quality Control Board, the City of Albuquerque Environmental Health Department (EHD) has tried diligently to have the Air Quality Control Board not hear our appeal…
When will the air pollution in Albuquerque’s low-income neighborhoods of color be too much?
This Wednesday, a hearing will convene to determine the fate of a permit for the Honstein bulk fuel facility. The facility, which operated its 6,000 gallon fuel tank for decades without a permit, is located in the San Jose neighborhood of the South Valley of Albuquerque. San Jose has a history of environmental injustice: a majority of residents are Latino/a, and more than 4 in 10 children live at or below the poverty line.
And though the neighborhood is only home to 1% of the County’s population, it is home to 29% of the county’s air pollution permits. The Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Environmental Health Department (EHD) approved the permit for the Honstein tank in 2013; we won the opportunity to have a hearing in 2015 to appeal the permit. But this case is about far more than just one permit….
[T]he New Mexico Office of the Attorney General and groups represented by the New Mexico Environmental Law Center, say the new rule violates the state’s Water Quality Act by allowing pollution from the mines to exceed pollution standards. During oral arguments before the Supreme Court, they said that the new rule exempts all open pit copper mines from strict regulations, rather than evaluating each mine on a case-by-case basis, as the state had done in the past. The NM Political Report
Go to The NM Political Report for full story.
NMELC and our clients beat a third attempt by developer Western Albuquerque Land Holdings (WALH) to get our case thrown out of state District Court.
Executive Director Doug Meiklejohn and Staff Attorney Jaimie Park are heading up the case. In the order dismissing WALH’s motion, Judge Nancy Franchini wrote, “The Motion was not a constructive use of the Courts and the parties’ resources.”
The New Mexico Environmental Law Center, which represents GRIP in the case, is waiting as patiently as it can on the ruling as well and hasn’t heard a peep.
“The Supreme Court will announce its opinion when it announces its opinion,” said Law Center Executive Director Doug Meiklejohn. “We don’t get any advance warning and there isn’t any deadline by which they must issue their opinion.” Silver City Daily Press
Read Silver City Daily Press for full story.
Reflections from Chris Shuey of the Southwest Research and Information Center (SRIC).
SRIC was aware that Uranium Resources, Inc. had filed an application for a “radioactive source materials license” with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and a groundwater discharge plan with the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) as far back as 1987 because two executives brought applications to SRIC, thinking we would be impressed with their proposal.
On October 17, NMELC and the Multicultural Alliance for a Safe Environment (MASE) submitted comments highly critical of proposed changes to New Mexico Groundwater and Surface Water Quality regulations.
“The proposed changes would potentially allow increased contamination of ground water throughout the state, possibly in perpetuity, and would eliminate the Water Quality Act’s (“WQA” or “Act”) public notice and participation requirements in the permitting process,”
penned Staff Attorney Jaimie Park in response to the New Mexico Environment Department’s (NMED’s) second round of draft regulations. Check out all of NMED’s attempts to weaken public participation and relax standards (including barium, chromium, xylenes and vinyl chloride) in our comments: 161017_NMELC_MASE_2nd_comments_NMED_water_reg_amendments.pdf
The comment period on these proposed changes ends today (October 17) at 5pm. We anticipate that NMED will petition the New Mexico Water Quality Control Commission to consider these amendments in 2017. We will keep you posted.
New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) is in the process of revising statewide surface water and groundwater regulations for the state - October 17 marks the deadline for the round of public comments on a second draft. This draft failed to address any of the substantive concerns voiced during the first comment period by NMELC, concerned citizens, or other water-protection groups around the state. We’ve flagged some significant problems with how the Martinez Administration is trying to strip provisions for public participation and streamline the permitting process for polluters.
Deadline: 5pm MDT, Monday, October 17
Read NMED’s proposed changes here: https://www.env.nm.gov/gwb/
Read NMED’s “Hit List” for regulation changes.
Staff Attorney Jaimie Park is heading NMELC’s effort to submit a second round of comments on Monday. You can read our comments on the last draft here (our concerns remain in this draft); find out more, including aa good synopsis of the issues and a sample letter, at the website of our client and ally, Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety. Thank you!
Even the overflow seating was filled to capacity in the state Supreme Court for the hearing of oral arguments on the Copper Rule on September 28th. The argument was dense, focused on the technical workings of copper mines. Former NMELC Staff Attorney Bruce Frederick, who volunteered to see this case through to its conclusion, offered arguments on behalf of our clients Amigos Bravos, Gila Resources Information Project and Turner Ranch Properties.
Our primary concern is new mines: under the Copper Rule, Bruce explained, these mines would be able to pollute pristine groundwater that might otherwise provide drinking water for New Mexican communities. Check out our Q&A about the Copper Rule.