December 15, 2023

By Kent Paterson, CounterPunch

Promoting a tourism mystique, the marketers of Albuquerque, New Mexico, peddle images of clean skies, diverse culture and delicious cuisine. The icons encompass soaring hot air balloons, majestic Sandia Mountain vistas and the ubiquitous chile pepper, red or green. But if current political trends hold, the postcard visitors send grandma might depict more spewing emissions, sickly skies and gagging residents.

At least that’s the implication of recent actions by the Albuquerque City Council that sacked the current members of the joint Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Air Quality Control Board (JAQCB) and blocked a proposed Health, Environment and Equity Impacts rule (HEEI) aimed at protecting low-income communities of color in Albuquerque and Bernalillo County from further, disproportionate air pollution impacts, including the cumulative effects of pollution.

Both Minnesota and New Jersey previously adopted similar environmental justice measures.

The rule, which would require review and consideration of environmental and health impacts for air permits, was proposed to the JAQCB last year by the Mountain View Coalition of Albuquerque’s South Valley. Members include the Mountain View Neighborhood Association, Mountain View Community Action, and Friends of Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge. …

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