NMELC in the News

Groups Worry about New Mexico Governor’s Hydrogen Hub Plan

By Cedar Attanasio
Associated Press
October 5, 2021

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A coalition of environmental groups are raising concerns about Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s plans to turn New Mexico into a hydrogen fuel hub.

The Democrat, who is running for reelection, has set a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions at least 45% by 2030 as compared to 2005 levels…

read more

What’s Next for the Santolina Development?

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….

read more

New Mexico Environmentalists Cheer Judge Tossing Trump-Era Water Rule

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….

read more

Group Continues Long History of Battling Uranium Mining

‘Additional observations’ being accepted in human rights petition

By Kathy Helms, Gallup Independent

Special correspondent, khelms@gallupindependent.com

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….

read more

Commissioners to Rehear Santolina Development Appeal

Santolina Developments’ Ducks Aren’t in a Row and They Have No Water to Swim In

By Gwynne Ann Unruh, The Paper.

August 17, 2021 

El Agua No Se Vende, El Agua Se Defiende. Water is Not for Sale; We Will Always Rise to Defend Our Precious Water. New Mexicans are passionate about their water, and with good reason. Water can be here today and gone tomorrow in a high mountain desert climate where, during a drought, monsoons can go MIA and rivers can run dry for years. Many elected officials have begun taking into account the conditions of climate change and being in a long-term, 20-year megadrought and how that will affect decisions they make.

read more

Petition Against Uranium Mines Gets Human Rights Hearing

Navajo Nation Says No To More Uranium Mining Development

By Gwynne Ann Unruh, The Paper.

August 3rd, 2021 

Eastern Navajo Diné Against Uranium Mining(ENDAUM) just said No! to the U.S. government to further uranium development. Finally, after drawing that line 10 years ago, their case alleging the U.S. violated the human rights of Navajo communities will be heard by the International Human Rights Body, an independent commission of the Organization of American States (OAS) based in Washington, D.C….

read more

Petition on Diné Human Rights Violations Accepted for Merits Hearing

Friday, July 16, 2021, Gallup Independent

By Kathy Helms, Special correspondent

khelms@gallupindependent.com

SANTA FE – In a potentially “groundbreaking” case, the Organization of American States’ Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has agreed to hear the merits of a petition filed a decade ago by the New Mexico Environmental Law Center on behalf of Eastern Navajo Diné Against Uranium Mining and several of its grassroots members.

The petition alleges that the United States, through its U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, violated Eastern Navajo Diné’s human rights and breached its obligations under the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man when, in 1998, the federal agency granted Hydro Resources, Inc. a license to conduct uranium mining at four sites in the Navajo Nation communities of Churchrock and Crownpoint. …

read more

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….

read more

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)….

read more

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.

read more

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….

read more

New Mexico Water Advocates Applaud Biden Administration Repeal of Trump-era Dirty Water Rule

By CAVU, KRWG Public Media 

June 10, 2021

Commentary:  Water advocates across New Mexico applaud the Biden Administration’s decision to repeal the Trump Administration’s Dirty Water Rule. The Dirty Water Rule, combined with previous reductions of protections at the federal level in 2001 and 2006, negatively impacts New Mexico more than any state in the nation leaving more than 90% of New Mexico’s waters unprotected by the federal Clean Water Act. …

read more

Oil Commission Approves Rule Change Forbidding Spills

By Scott Wyland, Santa Fe New Mexican

June 10, 2021

The Oil Conservation Commission approved a rule change Thursday that will forbid drillers from spilling oil and toxic liquids — an amendment that activists and affected residents said would help prevent the pollution from occurring….

read more

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….

read more

Santolina Zone Change Will Require Do-Over Vote

By Jessica Dyer, Albuquerque Journal

May 21, 2021

With the New Mexico Supreme Court’s recent decision not to weigh in on the years-long legal battle over Santolina, the planned community project is bound for a do-over vote by the Bernalillo County Commission to get its desired zone change….

read more