July 23, 2023
By Alaina Mencinger, Albuquerque Journal
Residents of a South Valley neighborhood, frustrated at being used as a “sacrifice zone” for industry, are asking for a harder look at the impact of pollution before air quality permits are approved.
Mountain View is a Bernalillo County community sandwiched between the Rio Grande and Interstate 25. The area is host to several industrial facilities, including a water treatment plant, several asphalt plants and the Rio Bravo generating station. As early as 2004, the New Mexico Environment Department labeled the neighborhood, whose inhabitants are predominantly Hispanic and low-income, as an “overburdened area.”
Residents of the community, as part of the Mountain View Coalition, proposed a rule asking that the cumulative impacts of industrial pollution on health, environment and equity be taken into account before air quality permits for new projects are approved.
If the regulation is accepted by the City of Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Air Quality Control Board, permit applicants will need to gather and disclose adult and child asthma rates, the percentage of adults over 65 and children under 18, admission rates to emergency rooms, rates of cancer, cardiovascular and autoimmune diseases and the overall mortality rate in the area they seek to build.
If a neighborhood meets the definition of an “overburdened community” — already disproportionately impacted by pollution — then the AQCB should deny the permit, per the regulation, and set up shop in another area….