This is the archive of the latest press releases from the New Mexico Environmental Law Center. Feel free to redistribute. We have an RSS feed for keeping up to date on NMELC's work. Sign up by clicking the orange RSS icon on the right side of the navigation bar, above.
Mt. Taylor Mine Hearing Set for Friday, December 4th
On December 4, the New Mexico Mining and Minerals Division will hold a public hearing to seek input about whether Rio Grande Resources’ (RGR) Mt. Taylor Uranium Mine can move from standby to active status. The Mt. Taylor Mine near the village of San Mateo has been inactive and polluting the surrounding environment for the last 25 years.
On Thursday, December 3, RGR attorneys sent a pre-hearing statement to various parties to the hearing including NM Mining and Minerals Division, NM Attorney General’s Office, the Multicultural Alliance for a Safe Environment (MASE) and Amigos Bravos, attempting to limit public comment on RGR’s request to restart the Mt Taylor Mine.
“At this point, a lot of promises have been made by the Air Force and the New Mexico Environment Department, yet they continue to delay a serious cleanup process and keep failing to adhere to their own cleanup deadlines.” Javier Benavidez, SWOP Executive Director Initiate
SANTA FE, NM — The New Mexico Environmental Law Center (NMELC) has filed a notice of intent to sue with the US Air Force, US Environmental Protection Agency, US Secretary of Defense and the New Mexico Attorney General over the failure to implement productive measures toward cleaning up the massive Kirtland Jet Fuel Spill.
The letter was filed on behalf of clients Southwest Organizing Project (SWOP), New Mexico Senator Cisco McSorley, New Mexico Senator Mimi Stewart and four individual residents of Albuquerque, NM. The letter announces plaintiffs’ intent to sue the US Air Force over the glacial pace toward cleanup of the spill. The letter is a required by law to inform parties that they will be sued after 90 days.
“The Rule violates the Water Quality Act because it imposes no limit on…the pollution discharged by copper mines…The Act mandates that New Mexico’s ground water be protected. We hope the Court will agree.” NMELC Executive Director, Douglas Meiklejohn
SANTA FE, N.M.— Today, advocates for water quality filed their Brief in Chief with the New Mexico Supreme Court. The brief outlines why the Court should set aside the state’s Copper Mine Rule, which regulates the discharge of copper mining pollution into groundwater. The state Court of Appeals upheld the regulations in May, even though the Rule neither prevents water pollution nor protects New Mexico’s limited ground water supplies as required by the New Mexico Water Quality Act. The Supreme Court agreed to review the case in June. Today’s brief was filed by the New Mexico Environmental Law Center (NMELC) on behalf of Gila Resources Information Project (GRIP), Amigos Bravos and Turner Ranch Properties, L.P. (Visit case page)
“I look for the places in between whether I have a month, a day, or a minute…, I find wilderness.” Craig Childs
SANTA FE, N.M.— Join the New Mexico Environmental Law Center (NMELC) when it hosts the Wild & Scenic Film Festival with special guest speaker, Southwest author and naturalist Craig Childs. Childs will give a live presentation to NMELC members and introduce his short film The Story of Place at the Santa Fe Farmer’s Market Pavilion on the evening of Saturday, September 12, 2015.
In his members-only presentation, Ghost Water, Childs will take us on a journey through time and water, unfolding the land around us to look inside and find the one element we all need.
“Water is the most elusive and crucial element we have,” says Childs. “Water flows through everything. You might not be able to see it, but it’s written all around you in every cottonwood and arroyo. It’s a ghost, and you have to honor your ghosts.”
The Wild & Scenic Film Festival returns to Santa Fe!
SANTA FE, N.M.— Join the New Mexico Environmental Law Center (NMELC) when it hosts the Wild & Scenic Film Festival Tour in its 2nd Annual showing at the Santa Fe Farmer’s Market Pavilion on the evening of Saturday, September 12, 2015.
One of the nation’s premiere environmental and adventure film festivals, Wild & Scenic films combine stellar film making, beautiful cinematography and first-rate storytelling to inform, inspire and ignite. Explore solutions and possibilities to restore the earth and human communities while creating a positive future for the next generation.
This year our Special Guest is author, Craig Childs, who will give a presentation to NMELC members prior to the films.
“Our clients are not trying to stop copper mining; they are trying to ensure that copper mining does not pollute ground water.”
Douglas Meiklejohn, NMELC Executive Director
SANTA FE, N.M.— The New Mexico Supreme Court has granted the petition filed by the New Mexico Environmental Law Center (NMELC) requesting review of the Copper Rule, which regulates discharges from copper mines in New Mexico. The Supreme Court order, dated July 13th, states that it will review all the issues raised in the petition.
“This hearing will finally give our clients the opportunity to shine a bright light on the environmental racism happening here.”
Eric Jantz, NMELC Staff Attorney
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Last week, the Albuquerque Air Quality Control Board rejected a motion from the Albuquerque Environmental Health Department (EHD) for summary judgment on an air permit retroactively granted to a gasoline distribution depot. The Honstein Oil Co. fuel depot had been operating in the San Jose neighborhood for decades without an air permit. EHD urged the Board to decide the community members’ appeal of the air permit in a “paper trial,” rather than allowing the community to present evidence about the health impacts of air pollution from Honstein’s operation and other air pollution sources. (visit case page)
“It sends a message to the San Jose community that their lives don’t matter as much as those in non-minority and more affluent neighborhoods.”
Eric Jantz, NMELC Staff Attorney
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.— On Tuesday, June 30th, oral arguments will be heard before the Albuquerque Air Quality Control Board over an air permit granted to a decades old gasoline distribution depot operating in the San Jose neighborhood of Albuquerque. The Environmental Health Division (EHD) granted Honstein Oil Co.’s permit application in June 2014, without considering the cumulative impacts of air pollution sources on public health and property. The permit allows the plant to emit 2.26 tons of volatile organic compounds per year. Get Fact Sheet
“This is a great step forward because protection of our state’s groundwater resources has never been more critical.” Dan Lorimier, Sierra Club
SANTA FE, N.M.— Today, the New Mexico Water Quality Control Commission (WQCC) unanimously voted to adopt the stipulated Dairy Rule agreement without changes. The adopted Dairy Rule – a set of groundwater discharge regulations for dairy operations - is the direct result of community groups calling out the State to do a better job of regulating the state’s dairies, and the dairy operators to be better caretakers of the environment.
“If the Copper Rule stands, what’s to keep other operations like industrial dairies, uranium mines and Los Alamos National Laboratory from getting the same thing?” Douglas Meiklejohn, NMELC Executive Director
SANTA FE, N.M.— Today, the New Mexico Environmental Law Center (NMELC) filed a petition with the New Mexico Supreme Court seeking reversal of the Court of Appeals’ Opinion upholding the validity of the Copper Rule, which regulates discharges from copper mines. The petition asks the Supreme Court to take up a number of questions including: Does the Copper Rules violate the New Mexico Water Quality Act by permitting water pollution rather than preventing or abating it?
SANTA FE, NM––MARCH 5, 2015 ––A coalition of eight local, state and national organizations are calling on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 6, Water Quality Protection Division (EPA) to increase its involvement in controlling the environmental and community health impacts of New Mexico’s dairy industry. Led by Socially Responsible Agriculture Project (SRAP), the groups have submitted scientific, technical and legal comments on the EPA’s proposed federal Clean Water Act General Permit for New Mexico’s concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) to encourage direct action for improving regulation of the industry. Link to the filed comments.NM_CAFO_Comments_To_EPA_3.15.pdf
Santa Fe, N.M. – On November 14, 2014, New Mexico State Engineer denied the company Aquifer Science LLC the right to pump hundreds of acre-feet of water annually from the Sandia Underground Water Basin because there is no unappropriated groundwater available in the Basin to satisfy the application. (view order)
On behalf of dozens of landowners in the area, the New Mexico Environmental Law Center (NMELC) successfully argued before the State Engineer that there was not sufficient water in the Sandia Basin to serve the new development. The company sought to acquire the water to develop a 4000 home residential community and 18-hole golf course in the East Mountains area east of Albuquerque, NM.
Santa Fe, N.M. – On October 27th, the New Mexico Environmental Law Center (NMELC) filed a petition with the New Mexico Supreme Court asking the Court to review the Court of Appeals September decision on New Mexico’s energy efficiency building codes. The Court of Appeals upheld the repeal of the codes and upheld the adoption of codes that require substantially less energy efficiency for new buildings. The Petition was filed for Environment New Mexico, Sundancer Creations Custom Builders, LLC, eSolved, Inc., Tammy Fiebelkorn, Sanders Moore, and Faren Dancer.
“In lieu of reviewing the record, the Court of Appeals merely assumed that it contained substantial evidence because it was such a ‘voluminous record’,” says Douglas Meiklejohn, NMELC Executive Director and lead counsel on the case. “I think most people understand that the presence of many pages does not necessarily equal actual substance.”
The Wild & Scenic Film Festival comes to Santa Fe!
Santa Fe, N.M. – Join the New Mexico Environmental Law Center (NMELC) when it hosts the Wild & Scenic Film Festival Tour, in its only northern New Mexico stop, at the Santa Fe Farmer’s Market Pavilion on Saturday, November 8, 2014.
“We are excited to host this entertaining event about community activism and environmental protection,” says Elizabeth Lee, NMELC Director of Philanthropy. “It will showcase a range of perspectives about how to be heard and how to make a difference. It will also celebrate the natural world and our relationship to it. The festival encapsulates the spirit of the Law Center’s work: to stand up for individuals and communities whose wellbeing is threatened by environmental degradation.”
Santa Fe, NM — Today, a retired couple from western New Mexico asked the state Supreme Court to order the State Engineer to dismiss a massive speculative water appropriation application from Augustin Plains Ranch, LLC (“APR”).
In their petition for a writ of mandamus, filed by attorney Bruce Frederick of the non-profit New Mexico Environmental Law Center, Ray and Carol Pittman state that a second application filed by APR this summer is “identical in all material respects” to the application that APR filed in 2007. The 2007 application was denied by State Engineer Scott Verhines and a District Court after five years of litigation. Just like the 2007 application, the 2014 application seeks to appropriate 54,000 acre-feet of water per year (afy), but fails to indicate exactly how or where the water will be used, as required by the state Constitution. “By keeping the intended use vague,” said Frederick, “the Ranch hopes to speculate in future water markets and ultimately sell to whoever the highest bidders may be in seven counties.” See Petition for Writ