Augustin Plains Ranch order released, meetings scheduled on controversial water project

Now in its third iteration, the application is pending before the New Mexico Office of the State Engineer, which administers the state’s water resources. In July, the state agency canceled a pre-hearing meeting. But last week, it released the application’s scheduling order, which includes information about the project and the process, as well as upcoming public meetings…The New Mexico Environmental Law Center represents a group opposed to the plan that includes 85 people and three landowner associations. NM Political Report

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Posted by Juana Colon on 08/18/2017 • PermalinkBack to top

Santolina project given more time to prepare water plan

Despite impassioned pleas from dozens of residents, Bernalillo County commissioners are giving Santolina developers more time to provide a water plan for the 21-square-mile development southwest of Interstate 40 and 118th Street…

Jaimie Park, an attorney with the New Mexico Environmental Law Center, who argued on behalf of SouthWest Organizing Project and the other Santolina opponents, told commissioners that if they agreed to the amendments they would essentially be undermining their own ability to assess whether the water plan they come up with complies with the requirements and they would be eliminating the public’s right to provide public comment and testimony because the water issues would be handled at an administrative level. Albuquerque Journal

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Posted by Juana Colon on 08/16/2017 • PermalinkBack to top

Rural residents continue decade-long battle against San Augustin Ranch water project

Like Hand, Douglas Meiklejohn, executive director of the New Mexico Environmental Law Center, worries what approval of the application could mean not just for local residents, but other rural New Mexicans.

“The main thing to understand is that if this can happen to an area like the San Agustin Basin, then it can happen elsewhere in the state,” Meiklejohn said. “In terms of the possible precedent, it’s a case that’s important for all rural areas of the state.” NM Political Report

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Posted by Juana Colon on 08/04/2017 • PermalinkBack to top

Santolina zone change rejected

“We respectfully disagree with the judge’s analysis relating to the master plan,” said Douglas Meiklejohn, the executive director and an attorney with the New Mexico Environmental Law Center. But he added that her ruling on the zone change decision is a “big victory for fairness and due process.” Albuquerque Journal

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Posted by Juana Colon on 06/02/2017 • PermalinkBack to top

Santolina Foes Get Partial Court Victory

Attorney Douglas Meiklejohn, who represented Santolina opponents in the case, said he disagreed with Franchini’s decision regarding the master plan, but was happy that she struck down the zoning change.

“We respectfully disagree with the judge’s analysis as to the master plan, but we believe that the determination that our clients were denied fairness in the proceedings regarding the zoning is a major victory for fairness in these kinds of proceedings and for members of the public who want to participate in these kinds of proceedings,” Meiklejohn said. ABQ Free Press

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Posted by Juana Colon on 06/02/2017 • PermalinkBack to top

County And Opposition Seek To End Court Battle Over Campbell Ranch Water Supply

Aquifer Science drilled two wells, one nearly 4,000 feet deep, but did not hit either the quantity or quality of water needed for the development. The Master Plan estimates a need of 1,500 acre-feet a year.

That application was protested by close to 300 people; that opposition coalesced into Deep Well Protest, which hired the N.M. Environmental Law Center. Meanwhile, Bernalillo County protested the application, in part because the county had been denied an application of 30 acre-feet when it put in baseball fields near Vista Grande Community Center, on property very near the master-planned project. That was in 2013. The Independent

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Posted by Juana Colon on 05/19/2017 • PermalinkBack to top

Bernalillo County to look at next step in Santolina development

Bernalillo County Commissioners will be looking at approving the next step in getting the controversial Santolina development started on Albuquerque’s Westside…The biggest concern by opponents from the beginning has been water. An appeal by the New Mexico Environmental Law Center has been filed an appeal on behalf of opposing organizations. KRQE.com

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Posted by Juana Colon on 03/14/2017 • PermalinkBack to top

Magdalena school board amends water grab protest

“Mr. Chambers had signed the petition in the name of Magdalena Schools and the problem is only the board can enter into a lawsuit for the school, not the superintendent. And this is a lawsuit,” Jaramillo said. “The concern by the school board at the time on Monday was is this going to cost us something…so we felt like it was OK to withdraw and instructed (Superintendent) Dr. (Vannetta) Perry to go ahead and write the letter to withdraw the [protest] on the petition.”

However, in a telephone interview, Meiklejohn told El Defensor Chieftain there was, in fact, no lawsuit and that the normal application process was on schedule. El Defensor Chieftain

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Posted by Juana Colon on 03/09/2017 • PermalinkBack to top

Bill to bring back oil and gas pollution penalty moves forward

Under the Safe Drinking Water Act, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency can authorize states to take over certain regulatory duties. Under that program, states must be able to assess penalties against companies that pollute water. But in New Mexico, the state’s Oil Conservation Division (OCD) hasn’t been able to do that for years. New Mexico Political Report

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Posted by Juana Colon on 02/23/2017 • PermalinkBack to top

Top 10 Environmental Issues to Watch in 2017

Trump and Martínez: A Double Whammy for New Mexico’s Environment and Communities

Environmentally hostile administrations will be making decisions about New Mexico’s communities and resources this year. Coming to the White House is a president who likely will set back federal environmental protections by years, if not decades…Yet these problems will likely mobilize even more New Mexicans to protect the air, water and lands that are so important to us. Together with the state’s advocacy organizations and public-interest attorneys, we can defend the state we love. But we’ll need to work together to make it happen. Green Fire Times

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Posted by Juana Colon on 01/30/2017 • PermalinkBack to top

Questions remain as company seeks to re-open long-defunct copper mine

Now, New Mexico Copper Corporation, a subsidiary of THEMAC Resources Group, is trying to reopen a copper mine that ran for just a few months in the early 1980s. And some residents say they don’t want that to happen…NMELC attorney Jaimie Park said the draft study didn’t include adequate baseline data for wildlife and endangered species or the area’s groundwater resources. NM Political Report

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Posted by Juana Colon on 01/24/2017 • PermalinkBack to top

Ex-N.M. official given second ‘Toxic Turkey’ award

Lawyer Ryan Flynn got his first “Toxic Turkey” award in 2013 while head of the New Mexico Environment Department. He got his second award Sunday, four months after leaving government to become president of the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association. The New Mexico Environmental Law Center bestowed the “Toxic Turkey” at its annual donor dinner. The award comes in the form of a skinned cartoon turkey on a platter. Santa Fe New Mexican

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Posted by Juana Colon on 12/06/2016 • PermalinkBack to top

Reader View: Martinez’s record: On the environment, it’s bad

Recently, it was quietly announced that Ryan Flynn, who quit his position as state environment secretary in August, would be heading the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association. Gov. Susana Martinez appointed Flynn — then a tax lawyer — as New Mexico Environment Department general counsel in 2011 and elevated him to secretary in 2013…Gov. Susana Martinez has said that she is proud of her environmental record with Flynn at the helm, but their approach has been only to protect polluters and sue the EPA. Santa Fe New Mexican

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Posted by Juana Colon on 11/05/2016 • PermalinkBack to top

Copper Rule in hands of Supreme Court

[L]ack of specific language in the bill drew attention from both opponents to the rule and the justices themselves. Justice Barbara Vigil at several times in the hearing asked supporters of the rule, “Is this not overly broad?” To a wider degree, opponents disagree with the rule’s validity as a whole in the authority it holds beneath the umbrella of the Water Quality Act.

Meiklejohn said that the rule is counterintuitive to the act. “The Water Quality Act states that any regulations that are adopted must be adopted to prevent or abate groundwater pollution,” he said. “The New Mexico Copper Rule does not prevent or abate; it allows.” Silver City Daily Press

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Posted by Juana Colon on 10/01/2016 • PermalinkBack to top

Environmental group ask state to deny firm’s request for water permit

The firm plans to drill 37 wells across the ranch property and pump 54,000 acre-feet of water annually — or 48 million gallons each day — which would be pumped, using hydroelectric and solar power, to areas in Catron, Santa Fe, Bernalillo, Sandoval, Socorro and Valencia counties through a 141-mile pipeline…The initial application also was met with opposition from tribal groups, local communities and the New Mexico Environmental Law Center, which represented at least 80 people protesting the project.

Doug Meiklejohn, director of the nonprofit law center, told The New Mexican in August that he expects at least that many people to protest the current application. Santa Fe New Mexican

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Posted by Juana Colon on 09/30/2016 • PermalinkBack to top

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