July 9, 2021
City Environmental Health Department Withdraws Motions to Disqualify Air Quality Control Board Members
July 14 Hearing Cancelled
Mountain View Coalition Credits Community Mobilization Efforts for Raising Voices Against Environmental Injustice
ALBUQUERQUE, NM—The City of Albuquerque Environmental Health Department (EHD) abruptly withdrew four motions to disqualify Air Quality Control Board (AQCB) members from a case by Mountain View residents to reverse the air pollution permit for a hot mix asphalt batch plant proposed by New Mexico Terminal Services (NMTS).
Attorneys for the EHD had requested three members of the AQCB to be disqualified for bias; attorneys for the groups making up the Mountain View coalition—Mountain View Neighborhood Association, Mountain View Community Action, and Friends of Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge—were prepared to argue in the July 14th hearing next week in front of the AQCB that the bias claims were baseless and that there is no evidence to support the city’s disqualification requests.
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.
Santa Fe, NM – On April 16th, the New Mexico Supreme Court refused to review a ruling by the State Court of Appeals addressing the Santolina development that is proposed for Albuquerque’s West Mesa.
According to New Mexico Environmental Law Center staff attorney Douglas Meiklejohn, the Supreme Court’s ruling means that the decisions by the Court of Appeals concerning Santolina remain in effect.
“The Court of Appeals ruling means that the land in question remains zoned Rural Agricultural and that it cannot be used for a planned community such as Santolina,” said Meiklejohn.
Between 5 million and 24 million gallons of jet fuel remain underneath the ground in Albuquerque’s precious aquifer in a giant plume that Kirtland Air Force Base discovered in 1999. Clean-up of the so-called spill has been moving very slowly for more than twenty years. The Air Force has not even fully characterized the spill, and now a judge has dismissed a case (SWOP et al., vs. US Air Force) that would have tried to get the Air Force to speed up the clean up of the contamination.
The EDB (ethylene dibromide) plume’s leading edge has been pulled back, but the main bulk of the plume has not yet been addressed, according to Charles de Saillan, staff attorney at the New Mexico Environmental Law Center, who is representing various clients on this important case.
“We are very disappointed in the decision,” said de Saillan, “and we are considering our options. The Air Force needs to be subject to an enforceable schedule for completing the investigation and cleanup of the plume.”
Santa Fe, NM—More than 100 community members attended the three-day hearing on the proposed Air Quality Permit for Associated Asphalt & Material’s plant consolidation which was held before the NM Environmental Department and took place Monday, March 22 through Wednesday, March 25. Participants ranged in age from elementary school students at El Camino Real and Cesar Chavez, to seniors living in the impacted area. Every single member of the public who provided comment during the Public Hearing spoke against the permit except one.
WHAT: Associated Asphalt and Materials LLC’s application to New Mexico Environment Department’s Air Quality Bureau for an Air Quality Permit
WHEN: Public Hearing on the Application is scheduled for March 22, 2021 at 4 p.m.
WHERE: The Public Hearing will take place virtually and will be presided over by Hearing Officer Gregory Chakalian.
WRITTEN & ORAL COMMENTS: The public may submit written comments by email or post to Pamela Jones, Hearing Clerk, at: Pamela.Jones@state.nm.us or mail them to Pam Jones, Hearing Clerk, New Mexico Environment Department, 1190 St. Francis Drive, Santa Fe, NM 87505.