NMELC in the News

Air Quality Permit for Asphalt Company Considered

By Isabella Alves, Albuquerque Journal

March 23, 2021

SANTA FE – Approval of Associated Asphalt and Material’s air quality permit will soon be in the hands of the state Environment Department.

But it could take more than three months before the department reaches a decision that would allow the company, located off N.M. 599 near the Santa Fe Regional Airport, to consolidate its operations. Hearing officer Gregory Chakalian has 30 days to file his report, which will then go to the department for review….

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Southside Residents Oppose Asphalt Plant Proposal

By Isabella Alves, Albuquerque Journal

March 14, 2021

Associated Asphalt and Materials wants to consolidate its two asphalt plants located near Santa Fe Regional Airport at the south end of town, but opponents are calling the presence of the plants “environmental racism.”…

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Private Right of Action Supports a Healthy Environment

By Georgene Louis and Virginia Necochea, Santa Fe New Mexican

March 13, 2021

House Bill 50, the Private Right of Action for Certain Statutes, is definitely getting a lot of attention at the Roundhouse, especially from those opposed. HB 50 would allow an affected individual or organization — in addition to the state or local or tribal government — to sue companies that have broken environmental laws. Given HB 50 is gaining traction, we wanted to clarify lingering misconceptions about this bill. …

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Santa Fe Asphalt Fight Takes Toxic Turn

By Gwynne Ann Unruh, The Paper.

March 9, 2021

Like many states, New Mexico’s air quality is worsening. The American Lung Association reported in 2020 that vehicle emissions, drought and oil-producing ozone pollution are major contributors. Living in a minority-majority state, many New Mexicans are familiar with environmental racism, which is the disproportionate impact of environmental hazards on people of color. From the San Juan Basin to the Permian Basin and everywhere in between, low-income communities and primarily communities of color have had to go to the back of the bus when it comes to pollution vs. dollars, health vs. illness….

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Pollution control bill advances to New Mexico Senate Floor, oil and gas industry dissents

By Adrian Hedden, Carlsbad Current-Argus

March 5, 2021

Air pollution controls adopted by The State of New Mexico could be made tougher than federal law as a bill advanced in the Senate Finance Committee Wednesday and could next face a vote on the Senate Floor.

Sponsored by Sen. Peter Wirth (D-25), Senate Bill 8 was intended to allow the State to adopt air pollution controls as stringent or tougher than federal restrictions through the New Mexico Environment Department and the Environmental Improvement Board.

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Not a Drop of Water to Spare

By Gwynne Ann Unruh, The Paper.

March 4, 2021

The fast and furious pace of regulation hearings, combined with a slew of legislative bills and amendments, appears to have blindsided New Mexico Oil and Gas Association (NMOGA) members and left them trying to figure out a way forward. NMOGA stated in an email, “The legislature has been fast-tracking bills that put oil and gas jobs and billions of dollars in state revenues in jeopardy, severely limiting funding for our schools, roads, first responders and healthcare.” With leases stockpiled, pre-Biden administration NMOGA members won’t run out of land to drill or frack for many years—even with the federal leasing moratorium. However, they are running out of water for fracking and are facing massive regulations on the toxic produced water that their industry creates.

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New Mexico Environmental Oversight Increases, But Officials Say More Funding Needed

By Scott Wyland, Santa Fe New Mexican

February 28, 2021

A disastrous blowout at the Gold King Mine near Silverton, Colo., released tons of toxic metals and acidic waste into the Animas and San Juan rivers in 2015, resulting in an $11 million settlement with the state of New Mexico.

An open-pit mining operation contaminated Questa’s surface and groundwater badly enough to put it on a federal Superfund list, leading to a recent $2.3 million payout to cover water improvements.

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New Mexico sues feds over LANL cleanup, plans tougher oversight

By Scott Wyland, Santa Fe New Mexican

February 25, 2021

State regulators are suing the U.S. Department of Energy for what they say is a failure to adequately clean up legacy waste at Los Alamos National Laboratory, and they will impose tougher rules for disposing of waste generated at the lab during the Cold War and Manhattan Project.

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Advocates Decry Tabling of Protect Our Water Fracking Waste Bill

By Sierra Club

February 15, 2021, Senate Judiciary Committee voted unanimously to table SB 86 after Chairman Joseph Cervantes (D-31) unprecedentedly silenced proponents of the bill from giving public comment in committee. 

“It was unfortunate to see both the democrats and republicans on Senate Judiciary vote to table SB 86. What needs to be emphasized and understood is that we don’t have a law on the books regulating oil and gas industry waste in N.M. Our priority should be communities who are most impacted by this waste and not industry. Such a travesty.” – Gail Evans, NM Environmental Law Center 

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Bills on Community Solar and Air Quality Permit Denials Pass Committees

By Kendra Chamberlain, NM Political Report

January 29, 2021

The state Senate Conservation Committee passed a community solar bill Thursday after a lengthy debate and multiple amendment proposals. Legislators have introduced various community solar bills over the past years, but the newest version of the bill was drafted by a task force that was created during the last session. 

In the House, the Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee passed HB 76, sponsored by Democratic Rep. Christine Chandler of Los Alamos. The bill would amend the state’s Air Quality Control Act to allow the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) to deny a permit application or revoke an existing permit on the basis of an operator’s poor compliance history. 

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New Mexico Senators, Advocates Back Biden Oil and Gas Plans

By Susan Montoya Bryan, Associated Press

January 27, 2021

The Biden administration last week suspended for 60 days the regulatory authority of federal land managers in field offices across the country, meaning any decisions regarding leasing, permitting or other reviews and approvals have to be funneled to top officials with the U.S. Interior Department.

Virginia Necochea, executive director of the New Mexico Environmental Law Center, said the moratorium will force decision-makers in New Mexico and elsewhere to act more quickly on climate change and environmental justice issues. “This is our opportunity to end the practice of ‘profits over people.’ Now is not the time to exempt oil and gas operators from this critically necessary moratorium.” 

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NM Begins Methane Rule Hearing

By Theresa Davis, Albuquerque Journal

January 4, 2021

Constant gas flares lighting up the sky over New Mexico’s oil fields may soon be a scene from the past, under new rules proposed by the state’s Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department to reduce methane waste in the oil and gas industry.

The Oil Conservation Commission began two weeks of remotely held online hearings for the proposed rules on Monday with a full day of public comment.

Oil and gas operators would need to meet a 98% gas capture rate by the end of 2026 under the proposed rule.

But some commenters, including attorney Doug Meiklejohn with the New Mexico Environmental Law Center, said nearly six years is too much time.

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A Report on Environmental Racism in NM, a Report Showing Small Business Covid Relief Went to Big Corps, Stunning New GA Polls & a Report Asking When Are Trump’s Actions Sedition?

By Paul Gibson, Retake Our Democracy

Call To Action: Since When Is Asphalt Agriculture

Retake Board Member, Miguel Acosta shared the info below. It is the second time now we have reported on an asphalt plant trying to expand their operations into residential or agricultural communities. Only a week ago, we reported on approval of an asphalt plant in South Santa Fe and now another effort in the Mountain View neighborhood of ABQ. With a Democratic Governor, State Senate, State House, State Land Office, and Mayor of ABQ, how is it that we are having to raise our voices to oppose such an obvious instance of environmental racism?

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Biden, Kerry, Asphalt Fumes in the South Valley and “World War Zero”

By V.B. Price, Mercury Messenger

According to the New Mexico Environmental Law Center representing the neighborhood, the City of Albuquerque’s Environmental Health Department just before Thanksgiving made what seems to me to be an utterly insensitive, monstrous assault on the public health of Mountain View.

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