In Solidarity with Protestors…
The events of the last weeks – which have their origins in the very beginning of our nation’s history – have laid bare the inequities that are the mainstay of America. The state sponsored violence is vicious and jarring and has resulted in widespread popular resistance. The New Mexico Environmental Law Center unequivocally condemns police violence and stands in solidarity with the communities impacted by police violence and the Black Lives Matter movement.
The massive protest against police violence and systemic racism also provides a glimpse into the more mundane, but equally caustic, day to day violence that existing racist structures perpetuate. The daily machinery of oppression includes the wide array of environmental and public health laws that mediate how each of us relates to the larger global ecosystem.
While our nation’s environmental laws are held up as a bastion of progressivism, they do not serve everyone equally. The environmental movement is rooted in the privilege of affluence and whiteness that has historically excluded communities of color.
We in the environmental movement are often the beneficiaries of the privileges that at the same time oppress our neighbors and allies. It would be easy for the Law Center to retweet a statement from a frontline organization or post something on our website expressing outrage at the latest incidents of state violence and then go about our lives. It’s much more difficult and important to engage in meaningful and thoughtful evaluation of our place in the framework that perpetuates violence and oppression.
We believe, however, that only with a hard look at ourselves and the system we work in can we begin to really understand and resist the systemic racist structures that dictate who has clean water, air and land and who must pay the price for industrial “progress” that ostensibly benefits us all, but in reality only serves a few. At the Law Center, we acknowledge that we have benefited from the status quo and have begun the difficult and essential process necessary to become a more equitable and inclusive organization. We are having conversations both internally and with community partners to identify ways in which we may have perpetuated oppressive structures and find ways to address our shortcomings to become better partners with communities.
We also call on our white friends and colleagues to reject the easy tropes that “environmental laws protect everyone” or “governments are well meaning” and to truly examine our system of environmental law and policy and ask whether it also contributes to the day to day violence that communities of color live with. We call on our friends and colleagues to consider that environmentalism is more than protecting a scenic area for recreation or aesthetic beauty, but is also a fundamental struggle to ensure human and civil rights to the basic conditions necessary for survival and human dignity. We call on our white friends and colleagues to listen deeply to communities of color; to step up when called to, to step back when asked and to stand in solidarity no matter what.
The Law Center represents residents in their battle to fend off polluting industry and preserve their right to clean air.
The Law Center serves communities fighting to keep dangerous pollutants away from their land and clean up areas already contaminated.
In the face of the added urgent threat from climate change, protecting both access to water and quality of water is a critical priority for the Law Center.
Law Center Client
Red Water Pond Community
As World War Two was ending, the growing nuclear arms race put the US in need of uranium. It turned to Navajo Nation, where the uranium mining industry thrived for four decades — but left disease, pollution and the biggest radioactive spill in US history.
That spill in Church Rock, New Mexico upended the lives of nearby residents, who had to grapple with toxic water, livestock and a lifetime of illnesses. Now, they are still waiting for it to be cleaned up.
Many people understand the environment as a force of nature that cannot favor or disfavor different populations. However, similar to all things on Earth, the environment is subject to human influences. Unfortunately, these influences often tend to lower their hands to the worsts of our society including racism and classism. This can ultimately create environmental racism…
REJECT HIDDEN MINING APPROVALS IN COVID-19 RELIEF LEGISLATION
Hard rock mining is considered to be the most toxic industry in the US. That’s why a nationwide coalition of environmental & public health advocates are calling on Congress to reject hidden industry handouts in the COVID-19 relief package…
NEW MEXICO RULES ON FRACKING
Environmentalists leveled sharp criticisms at rules dealing with recycled water produced during oil and gas extraction in New Mexico. Environmentalists also criticized regulators for offering a rule they claim is too narrow to address environmental and public health concerns and abdicates responsibility to other state personnel who also don’t have a rule that addresses their worries…
WHY WE SUPPORT THE CLIMATE EQUITY ACT
Since 1987, the New Mexico Environmental Law Center has worked alongside communities in our state in the name of environmental justice. Our staff and attorneys pursue legislation and court battles on behalf of clients, working on cases that often take years of court filings and appeals to wind their way through the legal system.
By Scott Wyland, Santa Fe New Mexican
June 10, 2021
The Oil Conservation Commission approved a rule change Thursday that will forbid drillers from spilling oil and toxic liquids — an amendment that activists and affected residents said would help prevent the pollution from occurring….
By Scott Wyland, Santa Fe New Mexican
June 10, 2021
Los Alamos National Laboratory would receive a $108 million increase for environmental cleanup under its proposed 2022 budget, a dramatic shift from Trump-era efforts to reduce cleanup money.
The newly released draft budget asks for about $334 million for the lab’s cleanup programs — up from this year’s $226 million — and would include removing Cold War legacy waste, demolishing at least one deserted structure and mitigating an underground chromium plume….
Albuquerque, NM – Dozens of grassroots community residents, small farmers and people concerned about dwindling water supplies gathered last week to become more informed and strategize about how to continue the fight against the proposed mega housing development project Santolina.
The Contra Santolina Working Group, along with the SouthWest Organizing Project (SWOP) and the New Mexico Environmental Law Center (NMELC), co-hosted an event over Zoom that featured a detailed history of the movement since 2013 presented by Dr. Virginia Necochea; updates about the future of water in the Middle Rio Grande Valley from Santiago Maestas, President of the South Valley Regional Association of Acequias; how the Development project would impact irrigation from small farmer Marcia Fernandez; legal updates from NMELC attorney Douglas Meiklejohn; and inspirational encouragement from Alejandría Lyons, Environmental Justice organizer at SWOP.
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