NMELC PRESS RELEASES

CURRENT PRESS RELEASE

Bernalillo County Commission to Rehear Appeal of Zone Map Amendment for Santolina Development Project

August 23, 2021

Bernalillo County Commission to Rehear Appeal of Zone Map Amendment for Santolina Development Project

Albuquerque, NM – An appeal of the controversial Santolina Development Project will be heard a second time in front of the Bernalillo County Commission this week. The hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, August 25, 2021 at 3pm. Detailed information on how to view the hearing and the agenda at the end of this release.

The first appeal of the Bernalillo County Planning Commission’s recommendation to change the zoning from Agricultural to Planned Communities was back in 2014. Two courts—the District Court and the Court of Appeals—ruled that the Bernalillo County Commission’s approval of the zone map amendment was invalid due to bias shown by one of the commissioners. Former commissioner Art De La Cruz had published an OpEd in the Albuquerque Journal in favor of the Santolina Development Project prior to the hearing. The hearing is a quasi-judicial forum in which commissioners should remain neutral until they hear all the evidence.

County staff has announced that no public comment will be permitted at this hearing. The public notice stated that the Bernalillo County Commission Rules of Procedure for Appeals will be followed. “If new evidence is submitted, it is possible that the case could be remanded to the CPC [County Planning Commission] for consideration if new evidence is presented to the Board that was not presented to the CPC,” County officials stated.

The New Mexico Environmental Law Center is representing SouthWest Organizing Project, Pajarito Village Neighborhood Association plus a number of community members as individuals in this case.

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Past Press Releases

City Environmental Health Department Withdraws Motions to Disqualify Air Quality Control Board Members

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.

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Community Opposition to Proposed Santolina Development Continues to Grow

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.

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NM Supreme Court Refuses to Review State Court of Appeals Ruling that Invalidated Zoning Change for Proposed Santolina Development

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.

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SWOP & NM Voices for Children Vow to Keep Up the Pressure on Kirtland Air Force to Clean Up Jet Fuel Spill

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.”

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Southside Community Comes out in Full Force against the Proposed Asphalt Plant Permit in Spite of Systemic Barriers to Participation

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.

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Earth Care Leads Community Resistance to Asphalt Plant Expansion in Santa Fe’s Southside Neighborhood

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. 

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New Mexico Groups Appeal EPA’s Dirty Water Rule

On Tuesday June 23, 2020 Today three New Mexico based organizations - Amigos Bravos, the New Mexico Acequia Association, and Gila Resources Information Project - joined together to appeal the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers so...

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Copper Flat Mine Rescission of Notice

On March 31, 2020, the Mining and Minerals Division (MMD) of the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department, rescinded its prior determination that the permit application for the Copper Flat Mine is technically complete. According to the MMD’s order, the mining...

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Leadership Change at the Law Center

Today, January 14, 2020, we are announcing a change in leadership at the Law Center. The announcement from Douglas Meiklejohn provides details about this transition. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact Doug, Board member Susanne Hoffman-Dooley...

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Mt Taylor Mine to Close!

In a stunning victory for Native communities, Rio Grande Resources (RGR), owner of the Mt Taylor uranium mine, notified the Mining and Minerals Division (MMD) of the New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department of “cessation of mining operations” and...

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