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.
Water War Leaves Community Determined to Defend Sustainable Development and Water Rights
by The Paper. Staff
September 1st, 2021
“Masterpiece Theater” couldn’t put more drama into a scene. It’s a David and Goliath confrontation from time immemorial. Bernalillo County Commissioners were rehearing an appeal for a zone change from agricultural to the planned community they voted for eight years ago that was remanded back to them by the New Mexico State Supreme Court….
by Scott Wyland, Santa Fe New Mexican
August 31, 2021
A federal judge has struck down a Trump-era rule that removed federal protections from nearly all of New Mexico’s waters, a court decision that environmentalists said was vital while the Biden administration works through a lengthy process to create a new water rule.
U.S. District Court Judge Rosemary Marquez on Monday wrote the Trump rule contained serious errors and, echoing conservationists’ concerns, argued it would cause “serious environmental harm” to the nation’s waterways if left in place.
Known as the navigable waters rule, it only protected waterways that flow year-round or seasonally and connect to another body of water….
‘Additional observations’ being accepted in human rights petition
By Kathy Helms, Gallup Independent
Special correspondent, firstname.lastname@example.org
August 23, 2021
CROWNPOINT – Jonathan Perry had been with the Navajo grassroots organization Eastern Navajo Diné Against Uranium Mining about four months prior to the group filing a petition with an international human rights body alleging the United States violated members human rights by licensing uranium mining activities in their communities.
A decade later, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights accepted ENDAUM’s petition. It is only the second time the commission has found admissible a case of environmental justice against the United States. The first case involved environmental racism in Louisiana’s “Cancer Alley,” according to the New Mexico Environmental Law Center, which represents ENDAUM….
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