Friday, November 11, 2011

Taos Townspeople Serve Those Who Have Served This Country

From the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps and the Sierra Club:

Today, hundreds of Taos residents converged on Taos Plaza to honor local veterans and to participate in a Sierra Club and Rocky Mountain Youth Corps-sponsored service project to beautify the public space. Citizens spruced up the plaza and broke ground for a memorial tree planting.

“Today we honored our veterans by asking the community to serve those who have served us,” said Kristina Ortez de Jones of the Sierra Club. “Spending time outdoors provides immeasurable benefits for those who have suffered from stress and depression.  This outdoors service project is one way we can start to repay the soldiers for their commitment to our country and get us all outside on Veterans Day.”

Soldiers returning home suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and depression at higher rates than the civilian population.  Approximately 20 veterans and active duty soldiers commit suicide every day.

“One way to help veterans assimilate back into civilian life is to provide them with an alternative outlet and connection with nature,” said Mark Lemke, a veteran and Sierra Club’s Mission Outdoors Apprentice. “Nature and the outdoors can be a salve for the wounded soldier.”

“Community service benefits everyone in ways that we are only beginning to discover, and I encourage everyone to spend some time volunteering. Before serving in the Navy, I spent two terms as an AmeriCorps member at Rocky Mountain Youth Corps.   I felt the pride of accomplishment associated with community service and wish this for everyone,” Pascual Maestas, AmeriCorps Member, Rocky Mountain Youth Corps.

Rocky Mountain Youth Corps recognizes and engages the strengths and potential of youth through team service in schools, communities and the landscapes of northern New Mexico.  To learn more, please visit

Mission Outdoors in Taos, New Mexico is committed to creating outdoor experiences for children, youth and families, so that everyone has the opportunity to explore and enjoy our natural heritage.  For more information, please visit

November 11, 2011 at 04:52 PM in Taos, Veterans, Youth | |

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Taos Pueblo Endorses Martin Heinrich for Senate

6a00d834519ed469e20147e0f85dc9970b-800wi The Martin Heinrich for Senate campaign today announced the endorsement of the Taos Pueblo Tribal Council. Taos Pueblo is the first pueblo to endorse in the open seat race for New Mexico's next United States senator.

“It is an honor to have the backing of a pueblo so fundamental to New Mexico's past, present and future," Heinrich said. "Too many people in Washington don't understand the unique issues of New Mexico’s pueblo communities and tribes. That’s why I have made it a priority to foster sensible government-to-government relations so that federal policy meets the needs of communities in New Mexico. I’ll continue that work in the United States Senate.”

“Martin Heinrich has proven he is an effective advocate on tribal issues,” said Taos Pueblo Governor Nelson J. Cordova. “The Tribal Council truly appreciates Martin’s support for the Taos Pueblo water settlement, as well as his leadership introducing the HEARTH Act and passing the Indian Health Care Improvement Act. We know Martin understands the unique concerns of our pueblo and Indian people because he works side-by-side with our communities.”

Representative Heinrich introduced the Helping Expedite and Advance Responsible Tribal Homeownership Act, or the HEARTH Act, in May 2009 to remove barriers between Native American families and homeownership. In September 2009, Heinrich helped lead the effort in the U.S. House to reauthorize the Indian Health Care Improvement Act (IHCIA), and was successful in securing key language in the House version of the health insurance reform bill to modernize Indian health care.

Heinrich’s campaign for the United States Senate notes that he has received strong and early support from a variety of organizations such as labor unions, environmental organizations and advocates for senior citizens.

June 15, 2011 at 04:35 PM in 2012 NM Senate Race, Native Americans, Rep. Martin Heinrich (NM-01), Taos | |

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Guest Blog by Billy Knight: Rep. Ben Ray Luján's Exemplary Leadership

This is a guest blog by Billy Knight, a long-time progressive Democrat and member of the business community who lives in Taos, New Mexico.

I'm writing you today about the exemplary leadership that I have seen in our U.S. Representative Ben Ray Luján in his past two years. He has taken on credit card companies that were taking advantage of the people, worked to make sure that health insurers can't kick people off their coverage when they get sick and voted against the big bank bailout.

He has been a leader on environmental issues, working to get better standards for the air we breathe and the land we live on. He has also worked to get training for people in New Mexico to work in the green energy economy. He has gotten funding for programs here that are hugely important for our community -- like Men Engaged in Nonviolence, which received a grant to keep their program going, or the Taos County Economic Development Corporation, which worked with Ben Ray to get more than $200,000 for their program. He has also spoken out about the low altitude tactical navigation flights, and has worked to extend the comment period, so that we in Taos have a say in the matter.

His membership in the Congressional Progressive Caucus and his tireless work to move the country forward is an exceptional fight to help the people of New Mexico. I'm proud of the work he has done in the past two years because I know he is representing me, and every other Taoseno I know.

Recently I had the pleasure and honor of seeing and speaking with Congressman Luján as we attended the 40th Anniversary Blue-Lake commemoration at Taos Pueblo. His participation in events of this type is additional proof to me that he is a young leader for all the people in his district.

This is a guest blog by Billy Knight. If you'd like to submit a piece for consideration as a guest blog, contact me by clicking on the Email Me link at the upper left-hand corner of the page.

Visit our archives for more post on the NM-03 race and Rep. Ben Ray Luján.

October 13, 2010 at 11:41 AM in Energy, Environment, Guest Blogger, NM-03 Congressional Race 2010, Progressivism, Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (NM-03), Taos | |

Monday, September 20, 2010

'We Are New Mexico' Distributes Flyers, Launches Radio Ads Revealing the Real Susana Martinez


Tell it like it is! There's a new, Northern New Mexico grassroots political organization that's out to set the record straight on just who GOP candidate Susana Martinez -- Susana La Tejana -- really is, and what it would mean to New Mexico if she should win the gubernatorial race.

We Are New Mexico, a newly formed New Mexico political organization, began airing radio commercials regarding the upcoming election for New Mexico’s next Governor this past Friday, September 17th, and has also been distributing printed literature far and wide. Check out the messages and download and pass on the flyer as it has a lot of incredibly important information about Martinez, and the nasty right-wing operatives who are supporting her financially.

We Are New Mexico's Bruce Wetherbee says a radio ad in both Spanish and Engish is now running on 10 radio stations in Northern New Mexico, and additional ads are in development. The ads will run through election day, November 2nd.

According to a statement released by the group, We Are New Mexico considers its mission as follows:

  1. To help New Mexico’s voters understand the importance of the upcoming Gubernatorial election.
  2. To guard New Mexico’s natural, political and governmental resources against the invasion and captivity of outside special interests and their political operatives.

The organization summarized some of its concerns in this statement:

"We Are New Mexico is concerned that unprecedented large single donor out of state contributors are trying to unduly influence who the next Governor of New Mexico will be.

"We Are New Mexico is concerned the Republican Candidate for Governor refuses to apologize for accepting $750,000 from four special-interest driven individuals from California, Wyoming and yes Bob Perry from TEXAS!

"We Are New Mexico is concerned the same Republican Candidate for Governor, Susana Martinez, is more interested in getting elected at any cost, than in the appearance of so much of her money coming from people who have a history of getting their way from politicians they control with their contributions.

"We Are New Mexico is concerned if Susana Martinez is elected, next January when New Mexicans call the Governor’s office, they will be put on ‘HOLD’ while Susana takes calls from Bob Perry and his friends from Texas, California, Wyoming and just about anywhere else where someone with a big fat check book will write another check for $100,000 or more for Susana’s next new ambitious run for office.

"We Are New Mexico plans to focus on the protection of our natural resources, our water and the ability of New Mexicans to control our state government and establish New Mexico policy without the influence of powerful outside special interests and their operatives that have taken control of state governments elsewhere, such as happened in Texas over the last ten years by the likes of Bob Perry (Texas Multi-millionaire Developer), the deceased Ken Lay (Former convicted CEO of Enron) and their political henchmen, ex-Congressman Tom Delay and current Texas Governor Rick Perry."

Learn More
The organization's President is Martin Suazo, Trudy Valerio-Healy serves as Treasurer and Bruce Wetherbee is handling communications. Visit the group's website at to learn more about the organization and its activities, check out its pamphlet and ads, get more involved or make a donation. Spread the word! Many voters still don't know about the real Susana Martinez, and it's up to us to help get the truth out there -- before it's too late.

September 20, 2010 at 10:49 PM in 2010 NM Governor's Race, Diane Denish, Political Ads, Susana Martinez, Taos | Permalink | Comments (4)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Denish/Colón Team Stumps for Water Rights in Northern New Mexico

Click for photo album

A report from contributing writer Stephen Jones, who traveled from Las Cruces to Taos to cover this event.

A huge crowd met and , the Democratic nominees for Governor and Lt. Governor in northern New Mexico on Sunday. Denish and Colón took their campaign north to address an enthusiastic overflow rally at the Sagebrush Inn at Taos. The gathering centered on issues of water and other natural resources both in the north and throughout New Mexico. 

“Without water our communities cannot survive,” proclaimed Denish. “At the same time we are fighting for our children’s future in education, we must fight for our natural resources,” she said. To the Taos community, specifically, she said, “I am on your side. I believe, together, we can make a difference.”

At issue are concerns for New Mexico’s water and other natural resources and, specifically, a resumption of Texas’ designs on those resources. New Mexico and Texas have a long history of fighting for water rights. High on the list of charges against the Republican ticket is the $500,000 campaign donation by Bob Perry, a Texas multi-millionaire who has bankrolled numerous right-wing politicians in Texas. 

“We know a Texas billionaire isn’t contributing a half of a million dollars because he wants good government,” Brian Colón said, “It’s a down payment on our futures. We’re not going to let him have that deal,” Colón said.

“There’s no one who knows more about this issue,” said Patricia Madrid, a former New Mexico Attorney General, referring to Denish. Madrid blocked a previous attempt by Texas to acquire New Mexico water rights. “I fought this fight before in the courts and won it,” Madrid said. She warned voters against empowering renewed designs on New Mexico’s resources from the Lone Star state.

“We don’t want to be sold down the river to Texas,” declared State Senator Mary Jane Garcia, whose district encompasses much of Dona Ana County in southern New Mexico. “We understand your concerns. We have the same concerns in southern New Mexico,” Garcia said. Other speakers joined the call to protect our natural resources. “Our lands and water are not for sale,” said Ray Powell, candidate for Public Land Commissioner. State Auditor Hector Balderas urged voters to rise to the call and help Democrats win in November. “Victory is right there in our hands,” he said.

The Taos event was hosted by Trudy Valerio-Healy and co-hosted by nearly a thousand other endorsers who came together as We Are New Mexico. “There would have been a lot more,” Valerio-Healy said, “but we only had three weeks.” 

In her remarks, Valerio-Healy touched on the historic water management of the Acequias, the critical system of waterways and irrigation canals that have fed historic agricultural regions in arid New Mexico, and questioned the Republican commitment to preserving equitable water planning. In a statement distributed in a printed handout, Valerio-Healy said, “Our ancestors have protected our water, our Acequias, for centuries. Now it is our turn. Can we really afford to put the future of this sustenance in the hands of someone that would take almost half a million dollars from a Texan with a history of manipulative politics?”

Diane Denish echoed the concerns of Valerio-Healy in her remarks on the protection of water and other natural resources, and stressed smart planning. “We have so much to learn from the Acequia system, and from centuries of leadership in water from northern New Mexico,” she said. 

Denish also contrasted her family history with that of her opponent. “My family came here over eighty years ago to educate and to create jobs,” Denish said. The Democratic nominee’s grandparents were school teachers and small business owners. Denish is a native of Hobbs, New Mexico in southeastern New Mexico. Susana Martinez, the GOP nominee is a Texas native.

Denish also contrasted their styles. “We’re not in this for the flash and dash, we’re in this for hard work,” Denish said, “You don’t want a rock star, you want a governor.” Besides water management, Denish hammered at her commitment to public education and support for college and other higher education “to guarantee good jobs that stay in New Mexico.”

Mayor Darren Cordova of Taos welcomed the speakers to what he termed “the enchanted circle” of the Taos region. Among other elected officials at the event were Congressman Ben Ray Luján, whose district includes the Taos community, and Appellate Judge Robert Robles.

All photos by Stephen Jones. To see more posts by Jones, visit our archives.

September 13, 2010 at 01:03 AM in 2010 NM Governor's Race, Brian Colon, By Stephen Jones, Contributing Writer, Diane Denish, Taos, Water Issues | Permalink | Comments (4)

Friday, August 13, 2010

I'll Be On KVOT Radio in Taos or Online Today from 5-6:00 PM

I'm pleased to report I'll be a guest on the Jim Ball show on KVOT radio in Taos today. "That's a Rap" is co-hosted by Jim Sanborn, and is on the air every day from 5:00 to 6:00 PM on 1340 AM on the radio dial or online at Tuesday's focus is on Education, on Thursday it's the Arts and Fridays are devoted to on local progressive politics. Jim Ball is the news director for DMC broadcasting, which includes KVOT. He was once the managing publisher of the highly respected Texas Observer, known for its investigative journalism.

I'll be discussing the upcoming election, what the various campaigns are up to, what the main issues are this cycle and what we can do to get involved.

Hope you'll tune in and check it out today at 5:00 PM. If you do, please be easy on my performance -- I have very little experience being on the radio! Thanks, Barb.

August 13, 2010 at 04:27 PM in 2010 General Election, Local Politics, Media, Progressivism, Taos | Permalink | Comments (3)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Join Diane Denish in Taos Tonight for Grassroots Fund-Raiser

will visit Taos today, Wednesday, April 14, for a grassroots fund-raiser in support of her campaign for governor. The event will take place from 5:30 PM to 7:00 PM at the Sagebrush Inn, located at 1508 Paseo Del Pueblo Sur (map).

The reception is hosted by Moises Martinez, India Hatch, Trudy and Ed Healy, Taos County Democratic Party Chairman Tomas "Chuby" Tafoya, Page Sullivan, Mike and Vee Yaccino, Patricia Madrid and Mike Messina

There will be a buffet and carving station. The suggested contribution is $100 per person, but all donations are welcome. Please RSVP to Megan Dawson at (505) 255-1282 or

Contributions can be made payable and sent to Committee to Elect Daine Denish, PO Box 30561, Albuquerque, NM 87190. You may also contribute online at,

April 14, 2010 at 11:04 AM in 2010 NM Governor's Race, Diane Denish, Events, Taos | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Gov. Bill Richardson: Chevron to Build Major Solar Energy Plant in Questa

Governor Bill Richardson today announced Chevron Corporation will build a one megawatt concentrating photovoltaic solar facility on the tailing site of Chevron Mining, Inc.’s molybdenum mine in Questa, New Mexico. The demonstration project will be the largest concentrating solar photovoltaic installation in the U.S.

“Locating renewable energy projects on impacted lands is a great way to redevelop the land,” said in a statement released by his office. “I’m pleased that Questa – and Chevron Mining and Chevron Technology – will contribute to New Mexico’s solar energy production and help us build a strong clean energy economy. This makes economic and environmental sense.”

The facility will include approximately 175 solar panels on about 20 acres of land, and the electricity produced will be sold to Kit Carson Electric Cooperative through a power purchase agreement. Previously Chevron submitted a plan to conduct the pilot demonstration project to the Environmental Protection Agency, the New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department and the New Mexico Environment Department. All three agencies support the project.

“We are proud to be part of a project that brings mining reclamation and renewable energy together in innovative ways,” said Jon Goldstein, Cabinet Secretary for New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department, in a written statement. “Our state is blessed with abundant natural resources of every variety; it is easy to see why Chevron chose New Mexico for this project.”

“Chevron’s demonstration solar project converts a contaminated property into a productive site that will benefit from the green energy it produces,” stated Ron Curry, Cabinet Secretary for New Mexico Environment Department. “We look forward to working with Chevron on this project to ensure there are no adverse impacts to human health, wildlife and the environment.”

Chevron will begin construction on this project in spring of 2010 and estimates conclusion by year end. The project will be implemented in conjunction with an evaluation of various soil depths for closure of the tailing facility at the end of mining operations.

“Chevron appreciates the partnership and support of all the various levels of governments, agencies and communities that makes this project a reality,” stated Fred Nelson, president of Chevron Mining Inc. “The project fits Governor Richardson’s vision to demonstrate how previously impacted land can be remediated and used for future alternative energy resources.”

"With this agreement, New Mexico has a unique opportunity to show the rest of the country ways which new cleaner energy can be affordable. This pilot will showcase renewable energy initiatives and benefit the community of Questa," said Al Armendariz, EPA Regional Administrator. "EPA supports this public /private enterprise to test the operation of emerging solar technologies on otherwise abandoned contaminated properties."

February 23, 2010 at 03:14 PM in Energy, Environment, Gov. Bill Richardson, Green Economy, Taos | Permalink | Comments (4)

Saturday, January 30, 2010

(Updated) Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino Wins Taos County Dems Lt. Gov. Straw Poll; Claims 24/48 Delegates

Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino

Update: I heard from the Brian Colón campaign and was informed that, according to their data collected on delegates pledging to vote for Colón, Brian received "between 12 and 14 hard yeses" from delegates elected in Taos County. They stressed that they believe their count is very accurate. The campaign also told me they secured well over their 30 percent delegate goal in Valencia County.
The Taos County Democratic Party held a straw poll last night on the Lt. Governor race, and Sen. Jerry Ortiz Y Pino came out on top by a healthy margin, according to information provided by Jerry's campaign:

  • Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino 41%
  • Lawrence Rael 28%
  • Rep. Joe Campos 28%
  • Sen. Linda Lopez 2.6%
  • Brian Colón 0%

All of the Dem Lt. Gov. candidates except Brian Colón spoke to attendees before the vote. Colón sent a statement to be read to the group.

Today, the Taos County Dems voted to elect delegates who will attend the Party's Pre-Primary Convention set for March 13 at the Buffalo Thunder Resort in Pojoaque. The results were very similar to the straw vote the night before.

Ortiz Y Pino Wins at Least 24/48 Delegates:
According to Steve Cabiedes of Ortiz y Pino's campaign, at least 24 delegates who plan to vote for Jerry will go to the Pre-Primary, out of the 48 delegates Taos County will send -- or 50% of the total. Cabiedes believes Rael and Campos each got about 25% of the delegates, while Lopez got one delegate and Colón got none. He said the campaign was very happy with the results, and that Taos County was one of their targeted areas.

It's hard to get an exact count because folks vote for delegates, not candidates. However, Cabiedes said he was confident about the numbers because the campaigns make contacts within each county and keep tabs on people who say they'll vote for each candidate. When folks are elected as delegates, the campaigns have a pretty good idea who they'll vote for at the Party Convention.

The only other straw poll of LG candidates took place at the December meeting of the Sandoval County Dems. The vote results there were: Brian Colón 39, Rep. Joe Campos 33, Lawrence Rael 27, Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino 25 and Sen. Linda Lopez 11.

Democratic candidates must receive at least 20% of the statewide votes at the Pre-Primary Convention to get their names on the June primary ballot without having to gather additional petition signatures. The number of votes also determines the order the names will be printed on the ballot.

The Mora County Dem Party is also holding its delegate election today, with 8 slots at stake. Delegate ward elections in Bernalillo County are set for this coming Thursday evening, February 4. By far the largest of the county parties in the state, Bernalillo Dems will send a total of 610 delegates to the state Pre-Primary -- or about 40% of the total.

January 30, 2010 at 05:01 PM in 2010 NM Lt. Governor Race, Brian Colon, Democratic Party, Jerry Ortiz y Pino, Joe Campos, Lawrence Rael, Linda Lopez, Taos | Permalink | Comments (6)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

New Mexico Water Settlements Pass U.S. House

BRLujan8.09 Today, two water settlements sponsored by Rep. Ben Ray Luján -- the Taos Pueblo Indian Water Rights Settlement Act of 2009 (H.R. 3254) and the Aamodt Litigation Settlement Act of 2009 (H.R. 3342) -- passed the U.S. House of Representatives. The bills resolve long-standing water cases in New Mexico. According to a statement released by Luján's office, the Taos Pueblo Indian Water Rights Settlement Act of 2009 passed by a vote of 254 to 158. The Aamodt Litigation Settlement Act of 2009 passed by a vote of 249 to 153.

“These settlements have taken many years to get where they are today,” Luján said in a written statement. “They have developed over the last two Congresses and much work has gone into the careful consideration of these bills. We now have an opportunity to authorize these settlements, effectively protecting water resources, advancing the implementation of effective water management, and ensuring future access to water resources for all Northern New Mexico residents located in the areas encompassed by these settlements.”

U.S. Senators Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall have gained support for the same measures from a key Senate panel -- the Indian Affairs Committee -- and are working toward securing a vote in that chamber in the coming months.

“It’s great news that the House has taken this action. These settlements will bring an end to some of the longest-standing court cases in the country, and in doing so provide water certainty for thousands of New Mexicans. With the House of Representatives vote behind us, we can now build momentum for gaining passage in the Senate as well,” Senator Bingaman said.

“After decades of work and negotiation, passage of these two settlements by the House brings us an important step closer to the resolution of decades-old water rights claims for five tribes along the Rio Grande in northern New Mexico,” Senator Udall said. “I applaud Rep. Luján for his leadership in shepherding this critical legislation through the House. Now it is the Senate’s turn to act, and I look forward to working with Senator Bingaman and our Senate colleagues to approve these agreements, which are mutually beneficial to all water users in the Taos and Pojoaque valleys.”

For decades, the people of New Mexico have worked to settle these water claims which have been in court since the 1960s. It has taken over 40 years for these bills to come to fruition, and they address important issues from a water management and conservation perspective. Similar legislation was introduced in the 110th Congress and was subject to legislative hearings in both the House and the Senate. Early in the 111th Congress, both Senators Bingaman and Udall introduced the Taos Pueblo Indian Water Rights Settlement Act (S. 965) and the Aamodt Litigation Settlement Act (S.1105) in the Senate with important revisions that have improved both settlements.

Without action on these settlements, the people of the region would face ongoing litigation and uncertain water resources for years to come.

The Aamodt Litigation Settlement Act of 2009 is supported by the State of New Mexico, the Santa Fe County Commission, the Rio Pojoaque Acequia and Water Well Association, the Rio de Tesuque Acequia Association, various individual water users in the Nambe-Pojoaque-Tesuque basin, and the Pueblos of San Ildefonso, Nambe, Pojoaque and Tesuque.

The Taos Pueblo Indian Water Rights Settlement Act of 2009 is supported by the State of New Mexico, Taos Pueblo, the Rio de Tesuque Acequia Association, the Taos Valley Acequia Association, The Town of Taos, and 12 Taos Mutual Domestic Water Consumers Association in the area.

January 21, 2010 at 11:47 AM in Native Americans, Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (NM-03), Rural Issues, Sen. Jeff Bingaman, Sen. Tom Udall, Taos, Water Issues | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Pentagon of Peace to Visit New Mexico in October


From Veterans for Peace:

New Mexico Tour Presented by
Taos, Santa Fe and Albuquerque
OCTOBER 9, 10 & 11TH

Click for schedules and flyers for all three locations.

September 28, 2009 at 11:27 AM in Afghanistan, Books, Events, Iran, Iraq War, Military Affairs, National Security, Peace, Progressivism, Santa Fe, Taos | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 11, 2009

Bills to Settle Long-running Tribal Water Disputes Clear Key Committee in US Senate

U.S. Senators Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall reported yesterday that a key Senate committee approved three pieces of legislation to increase federal support of New Mexico’s Indian tribes and tribal lands – including two bills to settle decades’ old water disputes and another to boost federal response to crime in tribal communities.

The three bills, including the Aamodt and Taos water rights settlements, were unanimously approved by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, of which Udall is as a member. Bingaman and Udall introduced the water rights bills earlier this year, and are co-sponsors of the crime legislation.

“I applaud the efforts of Sen. Udall and the entire Indian Affairs Committee for advancing these key water settlements. We’re now a step closer to bringing closure to these decades-old disputes, and bringing water certainty to thousands of water users in northern New Mexico,” Bingaman said in a statement released about the bills.

“The committee’s passage of these bills marks a major milestone in the resolution of water rights claims for four tribes along the Rio Grande in northern New Mexico. Decades of work and dedication have gone into each settlement and I am pleased that the Indian Affairs Committee was able to pass these mutually beneficial pieces of legislation for all water users in the Pojoaque Valley. I look forward to working with Senator Bingaman and our colleagues to quickly secure passage of this legislation by the full Senate,” Udall said.

The bills include:

  • Aamodt Litigation Settlement Act (S. 1105). This bill finalizes water rights claims for the Pueblos of Nambe, Pojoaque, San Ildefonso, and Tesuque, and authorizes the construction of a regional water system for the Pojoaque Valley that will benefit the pueblos and their non-pueblo neighbors. Project construction plus other benefits to the pueblos are expected to cost the federal government approximately $170 million over the next 15 years. The state of New Mexico and Santa Fe County are expected to contribute up to $116 million toward the cost of the project, depending on the number of non-Pueblo water users served.
  • Taos Pueblo Indian Water Rights Settlement Act (S. 965). In addition to finalizing the Pueblo of Taos’ water rights, this bill will fund numerous projects to help improve water use efficiency; groundwater management; and improve water quality in the Taos Valley. The Pueblo of Taos will also receive direct funding to manage its water resources. The settlement also allows for the protection and restoration of the pueblo’s Buffalo Pasture, a culturally sensitive and sacred wetland that is being impacted by non-Indian groundwater production. In total, the Taos settlement is expected to cost the federal government approximately $121 million. The state and local parties are expected to contribute approximately $20.2 million.
  • Tribal Law and Order Act of 2009 (S. 797). This bill increases federal accountability and response to reservation crime; provides additional tools to tribes for fighting local crime; and reauthorizes federal programs designed to strengthen tribal police, courts and detention systems. The bill authorizes $934 million to be spent over five years.

“These water settlements are a long time coming. Both are the product of decades of litigation,” Udall said. “I am proud to say that today these settlements enjoy wide support in the communities they impact. As a result, these pieces of legislation will mark a major milestone in guaranteeing access to clean water for all users in northern New Mexico.”

“These three bills are very good for Indian Country. The fact that they have cleared their first hurdle already this year bodes well for getting them enacted in a timely fashion,” Bingaman said.

All three pieces of legislation now move to the Senate floor for consideration by the full body. No date for floor action has been scheduled yet. In the House, the Committee on Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water and Power held hearings on the two water rights bills on Wednesday.

September 11, 2009 at 10:29 AM in Crime, Native Americans, NM Congressional Delegation, Sen. Jeff Bingaman, Sen. Tom Udall, Taos, Water Issues | Permalink | Comments (0)