NMELC in the News

Board of Regents Approve RPSP Requests

August 14, 2023

By Maddie Pukite, Daily Lobo

Passed unanimously, University of New Mexico President Garnett Stokes presented the Legislative Research and Public Service Projects Funding requests for FY 2024 – 2025 to the Board of Regents at their meeting on Thursday, Aug. 10. 

The largest RPSP request for 2025 was $11,941,700 for athletics to improve student-athlete welfare, recruitment and “enhancing the university’s brand”; it was $3.5 million more than last year’s request. 

The athletics request is one of two categorical requests, which are approved for a purpose, rather than a specific project. The other is a $1,097,900 request for educational television like New Mexico PBS. 

 Categorical requests are alongside 23 new requests and 29 expansion requests.  A new request of $997,946 would support the Accelerating Resilience Innovations in Drylands Institute for education and research on how to preserve the people’s economy and the ecosystem of New Mexico. 

Environmental concerns were also brought up during the public comment. Several spoke about the Board of Regents filing to require “review and consideration” of the Health Equity and Environmental Impacts regulation. …

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Navajo Nation Community Pushes to Have Uranium Mine Waste Moved to Nearby Landfill

August 11, 2023

By Hannah Grover, New Mexico Political Report

Residents of a small Navajo Nation community are hopeful that some of the historic mine waste impacting their land and health will be hauled away. 

In the 1970s and 1980s, the Quivira Mine produced approximately 4.6 million pounds of uranium, making it the third largest uranium mine on Navajo Nation.

As the uranium was hauled off, waste was discarded in a pile that today is located about 200 yards from a residence in the Red Water Pond Road Community. …

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Albuquerque Journal Business Outlook Briefcase: New hires, Applause, Etc.

August 7, 2023

By Elizabeth Tucker, Albuquerque Journal/Yahoo Finance

…W.K. Kellogg Foundation with the Center for Creative Leadership has announced the fellows for its 18-month fellowship, which brings together 80 leaders from the foundation’s priority places in the U.S.: Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico and New Orleans.

The New Mexico participants are:

…Corrine Sanchez — works to achieve family and community healing, youth development, and ending violence against Native women, girls and our Earth Mother in San Ildefonso Pueblo.

Neema Kamaria Hanifa Pickett — founder of Kamaria Creations Wellness Retreat a space for Black people to feel supported through internal and external healing modalities in Albuquerque.

Virginia Necochea — the first woman of color to serve as the executive director of the New Mexico Environmental Law Center, a public interest nonprofit that works alongside frontline communities in upholding environmental justice in Albuquerque.

Natane Ollin Tochtli Lim — worked in early childhood education for more than 20 years in various teaching roles and classroom settings within the Chicagoland area and Albuquerque.

Victoria Domiguez — empowering students and families of color, especially those who are living in extreme poverty, and exploring opportunities that will support them in their day-to-day living in Cuba, New Mexico. …

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New Amendments, Perspectives Shake up Airpermitting Debate

August 7, 2023

By Drew Goretzka, Albuquerque Business First

New versions of a proposal to change air permitting processes in Bernalillo County are taking stage at ongoing stakeholder meetings.

The original proposal, filed in November 2022 by the Mountain View Coalition, a collection of neighborhood organizations based in South Valley, looks to limit permits being issued in communities deemed “overburdened.”

Business leaders, especially those with stakes in the South Valley, say the proposal would hinder business and development across the county.

The two proposals, submitted by the Mountain View Coalition and the City of AlbuquerqueEnvironmental Health Department (EHD), differ greatly in specificity and intent. …

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South Valley Neighborhood Asking for Air Quality Rule

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.”…

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Feds shoot down mining company’s ask to loosen cleanup standards at toxic uranium mine site

July 6, 2023

By Danielle Prokop, Source New Mexico

Environmental groups said they were surprised by the ruling, but expect the fight to continue over site in Cibola County.
In early June, federal regulators rejected a mining company’s proposal to loosen current cleanup standards at a former uranium mining operation in Western New Mexico. 

Beginning in 1958, The Homestake Mining Company operated a mine in Cibola County, just five miles outside the town of Milan. The consequences have carried 65 years into the future. In the early 2000s, one of the world’s largest mining companies, Barrick Gold, bought out Homestake….

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Why won’t City Council address industrial air pollution?

May 9, 2023

Guest Column, Albuquerque Journal



On May 1, under cover of darkness, the Albuquerque City Council voted to put thousands of Bernalillo County residents at risk for asthma, heart disease, cancer and other diseases associated with air pollution.

Albuquerque and Bernalillo County are becoming increasingly known for bad air quality – the American Lung Association recently gave Bernalillo County an “F” for air quality related to ozone – and the health effects associated with air pollution. But air pollution does not affect everyone in Albuquerque equally; air polluting industrial permits overwhelmingly impact low-income communities, and communities of color experience the adverse health impacts of air pollution disproportionately….

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San Agustin Water Group Holds Fundraiser

April 27, 2023

by John Larson, El Defensor Chieftain

The late U.S. Senator Barry Goldwater once said a man from the West will fight over three things: water, women and gold, “and usually in that order.”

In 2023, Goldwater’s words still ring true, especially in Socorro and Caton counties, as the 16-year fight over the San Agustin Aquifer continues.

One of the players in that fight, the San Augustin Water Coalition, is sponsoring a 5K Run/1 Mile Fun Run/Walk on Saturday, May 6, to raise money to help with legal fees to help prevent Augustin Plains Ranch LLC (APR) from mining water from the aquifer beneath the San Agustin Plains, west of Magdalena. …

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Joint Motion Dismisses Permit for Asphalt Plant due to Health Concerns

February 21, 2023

by Maddie Pukite, Daily Lobo

Earlier this month on Feb. 8, the Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Air Quality Control Board approved a joint motion that dismissed a hearing for an air quality permit to build an asphalt plant in the Mountain View community in the South Valley of Albuquerque.

The Environmental Law Center joined community organizers in the legal fight to get the asphalt site out of the community in 2018 when the Environmental Health Department issued a permit to New Mexico Terminal Services to create the plant, according to staff attorneys Maslyn Locke and Eric Jantz….

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South Valley Celebrates Revocation of Asphalt Plant’s Permit

February 14, 2023

by Gwynne Ann Unruh, The Paper.

The Mountain View Coalition has finally, after years fighting a permit that was issued for another hot mix asphalt batch plant in the South Valley, got the long end of the stick. New Mexico Terminal Services (NMTS) set to operate the plant in the Mountain View neighborhood got the short end of the stick this time.

By unanimous vote, the Bernalillo County Air Quality Control Board approved a joint motion to dismiss a request for a hearing on the merits for an air quality permit issued in October 2020 for NMTS to operate the asphalt plant. …

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East Mountain Citizens Win 14 Year Battle To Protect Water from Developers

February 3, 2023

by Pat Davis, The Paper.

Status of 4,000 home Campbell Ranch development now unknown

East Mountain residents won a 14-year fight to protect their domestic water wells this week when New Mexico Court of Appeals Court affirmed a District Court decision denying an application for a new groundwater appropriation by a company that sells water to commercial developers. East Mountain homeowners banded together to hire lawyers and expert witnesses to defeat an application for a new groundwater appropriation to supply the massive proposed Campbell Ranch 4000 home and golf course development in the Edgewood and Sandia Park area….

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Changing the Playing Field: Proposed legislation would dramatically change New Mexico’s principal oil and gas law

January 18, 2023

by Jerry Redfern, Capital & Main

Three bills proposed for the New Mexico legislative session would shift the state’s focus on the oil and gas industry by emphasizing public safety and environmental protections, denying permits and increasing penalties for companies in violation of the law, and making it easier for citizen groups to sue scofflaw operators. 

The bills would dramatically redirect the Oil and Gas Act, which was written to protect oil and gas resources for the state’s benefit, to include protecting the environment and the public, particularly marginalized communities. The legislation could be the largest change to the act since it was written in 1935. …

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Community Convinces Air Quality Board to Hold Public Hearing

Health, Environment and Equity Impacts Regulation Could Shift Environmental Racism in South Valley 

December 23, 2022

by Gwynne Ann Unruh, The Paper.

The South Valley is a clear example of environmental racism and they are fed up with being the dumping ground for decades of a dirty industry that no one else wants. The strength of community organizing paid off for residents there when, spearheaded by the Mountain View Coalition and New Mexico Environmental Law Center (NMELC), they were able to convince the ABQ-BernCo Air Quality Control Board (AQCB) to vote unanimously (5-0) to hold a public hearing on their proposed Health, Environment and Equity Impacts Regulation. 

“Most of the burdens and few of the benefits of economic development are experienced by residents in these overburdened communities,” Eric Jantz, NMELC Senior Staff Attorney told the AQCB….

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The Easy Road For Bernalillo County Air Quality Polluters Is Closing

December 13, 2022

by Gwynne Ann Unruh, The Paper.

Bernalillo County residents are sick and tired of getting the short end of the stick when it comes to businesses affecting their air quality. They want to close the loopholes polluters use and make the health of the community paramount.

The Mountain View Coalition and the New Mexico Environmental Law Center have teamed up to present the Bernalillo County Air Quality Control Board with a proposed Health Environment & Equity Impacts Regulation on December 14, that would make it virtually impossible for businesses to squeak by the Board if they produce any air pollution. …

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