New Mexico Oil Oversight Agency, with Restored Authority, Plugs Orphaned Wells, Issues Fines

By Scott Wyland, Santa Fe New Mexican

July 7, 2021

The agency that regulates the state’s oil and gas industry is issuing citations and plugging abandoned wells at a faster rate since regaining enforcement power in 2020.

The Oil Conservation Division reported filing 23 complaints against operators — imposing $263,000 in penalties — while plugging 49 orphaned wells, the most in one year since at least 2016. The fines are the first the agency has meted out in more than a decade….

Mountain View Neighborhood Wins Small Victory In Fight Against Asphalt Plant

City Environmental Health Dept. Backs Off Efforts to Disqualify Air Quality Control Board Members

By Gwynne Ann Unruh, The Paper.

July 12th, 2021 

Small victories can mean a lot when you have endured a long history of environmental injustice and environmental racism in your community. Members of the Mountain View coalition and their attorneys from the New Mexico Environmental Law Center NMELC were elated when the City of Albuquerque’s Environmental Health Department (EHD) backed off its efforts to get three board members kicked off the Air Quality Control Board (AQCB) for bias. EDH recently withdrew four motions on July 10 just ahead of a scheduled hearing set for July 17 to disqualify board members from a case against a hot mix asphalt batch plant proposed by New Mexico Terminal Services (NMTS)….

Mountain View is City’s Industrial Sacrifice Zone

By Nora Garcia, President, Mountain View Neighborhood Association; Lauro Silva, member, Mountain View Neighborhood Association; Marla Painter, President, Mountain View Community Action; David Barber, Board Member, Mountain View Neighborhood Association, President, Friends of Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge; and Aryn LaBrake, Executive Director, Friends of Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge. 

June 28, 2021, Albuquerque Journal

The recent decision by the city of Albuquerque’s Environmental Health Department (EHD) to issue an air pollution permit for yet another polluting industry in the Mountain View neighborhood is a blatant case of environmental racism. For decades, Mountain View, a community along the Rio Grande just north of the Pueblo of Isleta, has been disproportionately overburdened with toxic and hazardous contamination.

New Mexico Terminal Services applied for an air pollution permit from EHD to construct a hot mix asphalt plant at 9615 Broadway SE, just south of the Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge in the Mountain View neighborhood. The property is next to the Rio Grande and the bosque, a green corridor that runs through the Middle Rio Grande Valley. The land is zoned for agricultural use; regardless, the city of Albuquerque issued an air pollution permit for the asphalt plant, ignoring Bernalillo County zoning laws.

EPA to Repeal Controversial Water Rule Impacting New Mexico

By Scott Wyland, Santa Fe New Mexican

June 14, 2021

U.S. regulators aim to repeal a contentious Trump-era rule that stirred fierce opposition from conservationists and many New Mexico leaders because it removed most of the state’s water from federal protection.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s head said the agency and the Army Corps of Engineers had determined the rule was causing substantial harm to water bodies and pointed to New Mexico and Arizona as among the states most affected….

Budget Calls for $108 Million Boost for Los Alamos Waste Cleanup

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….