NMELCs Environmental Justice Cases.

CASES — ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE


Cases are arranged alphabetically, with the exception of affiliated case groupings. The simplest method to find a particular case is to use our search feature, at the top of the page. Learn more about Environmental Justice issues.


Chaparral Landfill [Click to view entire case file.]
Location:
Chaparral, Otero and Doña Ana Counties

Issues:

Mexican-American community working to prevent the siting of another landfill in their town.

NM Supreme Court decision (7/05) can be found here.



Latest News:

NM Supreme Court ruled in 2005 that NMED must evaluate public input during permitting process; public hearing reopened in 2007.

Case Initiation Date:
June 2007

Clients/Partners:
Colonias Development Council

Attorneys:
Douglas Meiklejohn

Case Status:
On-going

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Comment on US EPA Environmental Justice Plan [Click to view entire case file.]
Location:
National

Issues:

To comment on US EPA environmental justice plan for implementing Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act



Latest News:
Case Initiation Date:
April 2012

Clients/Partners:
NMELC

Attorneys:
Douglas Meiklejohn

Case Status:
On-going

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Helena Chemical's air quality permit appeal [Click to view entire case file.]
Location:
Mesquite, NM

Issues:

Residents of Mesquite, NM, are tired of the air pollution that blows from the Helena Chemical Company’s fertilizer mixing plant into their yards, homes and businesses.  For years, they have worked together as the Mesquite Community Action Committee to advocate for better air quality.

At different times during the past decade, we have represented the Committee.

  • In 2005, we helped the community win a victory when we helped them persuade the NM Environment Department that the company requires an air quality permit.
  • In 2010, we helped the community persuade the Environmental Improvement Board that it should deny Helena’s appeal of that permit requirement.
  • Now we are working to represent the Committee in appellate court, where the company is appealing its need to have an air quality permit.

We will continue to represent the community in its efforts to clean up the air in Mesquite.



Latest News:

07/15/2011 - Because the group was not an official party to the proceeding, the Supreme Court did not require the appellate court to grant us party status.

07/06/2011 - Court of Appeals denies MCAC intervention in appeal.

06/13/2011 - Filed motion for leave to intervene in appeal.

Case Initiation Date:
2010

Clients/Partners:
Mesquite Community Action Committee

Attorneys:
Jonathan Block

Case Status:
CLOSED - Our clients were denied participation in the appeal.

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Hydro Resources, Inc. uranium mines [Click to view entire case file.]
Location:
Church Rock, Crownpoint

Issues:

Two decades ago, Crownpoint resident Mitchell Capitan worked as a groundwater technician for the MobilOil pilot-scale in-situ leach (ISL) uranium mine near his home. He saw first-hand, month after month, that MobilOil could not clean up the water that it polluted with the process. (Go to case files)

When he learned that Hydro Resources, Inc. sought to open a new ISL mine near his home, he organized his neighbors into the Eastern Navajo Diné Against Uranium Mining (ENDAUM – see videos below from two ENDAUM members).  Two years later, in 1996, they approached the New Mexico Environmental Law Center for legal assistance.  We have represented ENDAUM ever since.

It’s been an historic case, with work at the local, state, national and international levels.  The stakes are high: the Westwater Canyon Aquifer currently supplies approximately 15,000 residents of the Eastern Agency of the Navajo Nation.  In addition, the tribal water planners declared that the aquifer will be an important future source of water to meet growing demands in the future.  The mines and processing plant would also add radioactive air emissions to an airshed that already exceeds federal air quality standards for radiation.

If these mines succeed in opening, it will send a chilling message to communities near uranium ore: uranium is worth more than your water…more than your air…more than you and your neighbors.



Latest News:

08/06/2012 - NMELC sends letter to EPA Acting Administrator Coleman regarding aquifer exemption issued to Hydro Resources, Inc. for Church Rock Section 8.

03/08/2012 - Arguments heard on Summary Judgement. Judge decides not to rule on the merits of case because the case is not ripe yet.

10/11/2011 - ENDAUM requests hearing on motion for summary judgment.

09/01/2011 - ENDAUM requests judgment that the NMED has no authority to accept HRI’s application as a discharge permit renewal.

07/15/2011 - NMELC files Plaintiff’s Motion for Preliminary Injunction and supporting documents for client, ENDAUM.

06/27/2011 - On behalf of ENDAUM, NMELC filed a letter demanding New Mexico Environment Department issue a notice to HRI that their discharge permit has not been renewed based on documents obtained that show high-ranking employees of the NMED have been improperly influencing regulatory decisions of the Groundwater Quality Bureau.

05/13/2011 - NMELC files a petition with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights seeking to halt a uranium mining operation in the Navajo villages of Church Rock and Crownpoint, N.M

11/15/2010 - U.S. Supreme Court denies review of decision to allow in situ leach (ISL) uranium mining in the Church Rock and Crownpoint communities.

09/15/2010 - NMELC files an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals decision to allow in situ leach (ISL) uranium mining in the Church Rock and Crownpoint communities.

05/18/2010 - The 10th Federal Circuit Appeals Court denies request for En Banc Rehearing.

04/22/2010 - NMELC files Petition for Panel or En Banc Rehearing to the 10th Federal Circuit Appeals Court.

03/08/2010 - The 10th Federal Circuit Appeals Court in Denver, CO returned with their decision upholding the NRC license allowing HRI to mine for uranium in Crownpoint’s municipal water supply.

05/12/2008 - Oral arguments are heard in 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, CO. Currently we are waiting to hear judges decision.

Case Initiation Date:
September 1996

Clients/Partners:
Eastern Navajo Diné Against Uranium Mining (ENDAUM) and the Southwest Research and Information Center (SRIC)

Attorneys:
Eric Jantz

Case Status:
On-going

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