Thursday, August 16, 2012

Spend it like Water Art Exhibit and panel discussion at SBCC

Image_miniLiquid Currency 2012: Spend it like Water an Art Exhibit and Dialogue about our most essential resource.

ALBUQUERQUE, NM- features the work of 15 artists and opens a dialogue about our most essential resource. Begin the exploration into our relationship with water; the costs associated with how we use and abuse it, and how we can conserve it in our coming crisis. Featuring work by: Jane Abrams, Sally Condon, Barbara Grothus, Becky Holtzman, Joseph Lambert, Mary Lambert, Stephanie Lerma, Suzanne Marshall, David Ondrik, Valerie Roybal, Carol Sanchez, Janet Shagam, Marilyn Stablein, Harriette Tsosie, Jennifer A. Zona.

A led by Amigos Bravos will take place on August 18th from 1-4 PM at the South Broadway Cultural Center as well.

Gallery hours are 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and during evening events held at South Broadway. Entry to the Gallery is always free.

South Broadway Cultural Center is managed by the Cultural Services Department, City of Albuquerque, Richard J. Berry, Mayor. The facility is a multi-cultural, visual, performing and literary art center that promotes, preserves and educates the community about the cultures and ethnicities that define Albuquerque. Located at 1025 Broadway SE, the unique architecture and colorful design of the building’s exterior is an attraction in the area. SBCC shares the facility with the South Broadway Library and collaborates with the library on a number of events and activities. There is free parking immediately adjacent to the facility. 

August 16, 2012 at 07:43 AM in Arts, Events, Water Issues | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

8/28: Water Movie at NHCC: Screening - Last Call at the Oasis

Burque Bioneers hosts a monthly screening series focused on inspiring social and scientific innovation in our community that respects and fosters well-being for the web of life in the mid-Rio Grande valley. We partner with a number of local organizations and businesses to show thought provoking films and build an ongoing dialogue about the environmental, social and economic challenges we face and the creative ways we can address them.

Screenings are typically held at the National Hispanic Cultural Center and are free of charge.

Last Call at the Oasis


On August 28th, 7PM At the National Hispanic Cultural Center in the Bank of America Theatre, 1701 4th Street

Less than 1 percent of the world’s water is fresh and potable—and no more will ever be available. Thanks to pollution, global warming, and population growth, water access is poised to become today’s most explosive global issue. No resource on earth is more precious—or more endangered—than water. Last Call at the Oasis is a powerful tool for learning about the water challenges we face as well as the remarkable solutions available to us—if we have the will to use them.

This event is sponsored by National Hispanic Cultural Center, La Montanita Coop and KUNM 89.9 FM

This screening is free and open to the public; donations for the Last Call at the Oasis and Burque Bioneers gratefully accepted.

August 15, 2012 at 07:03 PM in Climate, Environment, Events, Film, Water Issues | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

State Disclosure Policies, Oversight of Natural Gas Fracking Are Inadequate Protection for Water Supplies, Public Safety, New Report Finds

In a new report issued on July 9, 2012, OMB Watch finds that state oversight laws requiring disclosure of the chemicals used in natural gas fracking are in need of an overhaul. Disclosure of the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," is spotty and incomplete, and essential safeguards are missing.

Image above from OMB and Al Granberg/ProPublica

"Public officials in state government are struggling to find a way to protect water supplies and public health in the wake of the rapid expansion of natural gas drilling and extraction. They haven’t gotten it right yet," said Katherine McFate, president of OMB Watch. "Some of the chemicals used in natural gas fracking have been linked to serious health problems, including cancer and kidney, liver, and neurological damage, so it is imperative that local water supplies be carefully monitored and protected."

The report, The Right to Know, the Responsibility to Protect: State Actions Are Inadequate to Ensure Effective Disclosure of the Chemicals Used in Natural Gas Fracking, examines state disclosure laws and rules and identifies the gap between effective policy and existing practice. The analysis is especially timely given the ongoing boom in natural gas extraction: almost half a million natural gas wells are operating in at least 30 states, and more are planned.

The report asserts that an effective chemical disclosure policy should contain the following elements:

  • Before receiving a drilling permit, the owners and operators of natural gas wells should gather baseline information on nearby water sources and water and air quality. They should disclose the chemicals they intend to use in the fracking process and commit to regularly monitoring the water and air near the gas wells and near wastewater storage facilities for potential contamination for as long as the well is operating and for some period after operations have ceased.
  • Information on the chemicals used in fracking should be collected from drilling companies, well operators, and manufacturers and should include specific information on the unique chemical identification numbers, concentrations, and the quantity of the chemicals used.
  • States should have clear guidelines limiting "trade secrets" exemptions from disclosure laws to prevent companies from invoking this loophole to avoid disclosure.
  • Information about the chemicals used at each individual well where fracking occurs should be posted on a public website in a way that allows users to easily search, sort, and download data by chemicals used, companies involved, and well location.

"Some states, like Colorado, do a better job than others of making chemical information available to the public, but no state is requiring enough upfront collection of baseline data and ongoing monitoring to adequately protect local water supplies and public health. Citizens need to have adequate information to evaluate the potential risks and rewards of allowing natural gas fracking in their communities," said Sean Moulton, Director of Information Policy at OMB Watch and an author of the report.

Because of a major loophole written into the Energy Policy Act of 2005, natural gas fracking activities have been exempt from federal oversight under the Safe Drinking Water Act. As a result, oversight of fracking has shifted to the states.

Over the past three years, 13 of the states with natural gas extraction activities have established rules or laws to require some level of public disclosure of the chemicals used in fracking. Seven states with significant amounts of fracking have no public chemical disclosure requirements, even though a few of them do regulate drilling to a certain extent.

"We hope this report will encourage state and local authorities to improve their chemical disclosure standards, especially in those regions of the country most involved in and affected by natural gas fracking," McFate concluded.

The Right to Know, the Responsibility to Protect is available online at

July 12, 2012 at 07:16 PM in Energy, Environment, Fracking, Water Issues | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, July 09, 2012

New Sierra Club Ad Targets Heather Wilson for Votes to Protect Big Oil Campaign Donors

Six Figure Ad Buy Highlights Wilson’s Dirty Water and Dirty Politics

Today, the Sierra Club launched a new six-figure television ad campaign (above) highlighting Congresswoman Heather Wilson’s record of consistently voting to put the agenda of her Big Oil campaign donors before the needs of New Mexico families. The first ad (“Natural Resources”) highlights Wilson’s multiple votes to shield chemical manufacturers and oil companies from liability for contaminating hundreds of groundwater sites and multiple water systems throughout New Mexico with MTBE, a toxic gasoline additive rated as a “potential human carcinogen” by the EPA. These same MTBE producers and Big Oil companies also contributed thousands upon thousands of dollars to Wilson’s campaign coffers.

“Wilson’s dirty politics stuck New Mexico farmers and families with dirty water while she raked in the campaign cash,” said David Farrell, Sierra Club Political Chair for the Southern Group, Rio Grande Chapter. “Big Oil and chemical companies poisoned the drinking water used by thousands and thousands of New Mexicans, putting the health of our kids at risk. But, instead of holding these polluters accountable, Heather Wilson took their money and voted to let them off the hook.”

While accepting more than $60,000 from MTBE producers and oil companies facing lawsuits because of MTBE contamination, Wilson voted four times for legislation that would protect those same companies from liability. That includes votes for the 2003, 2004, and 2005 Bush energy bills maintaining that liability shield and a vote against a stand-alone 2005 bill that would have stripped the shielding provision.

To date, Wilson has taken a total of more than $700,000 from oil and gas companies.

“Access to clean water is vitally important to farmers and families in New Mexico. Instead of protecting us, Wilson consistently chose to put big polluters and their millions first, giving them a free pass for threatening the health and well-being of our children,” said Farrell.

The new ad is part of a coalition effort by environmental and conservation groups to defeat Wilson and support the campaign of Congressman Martin Heinrich, who has consistently voted to protect clean air, clean water, and the health of New Mexico families while creating thousands of new clean energy jobs.

July 9, 2012 at 06:10 PM in 2012 NM Senate Race, Environment, Heather Wilson, Water Issues | Permalink | Comments (1)

Sunday, July 08, 2012

One Year Later: Udall Visits Santa Clara Pueblo Burn Scars

Santa clara udallOn Saturday, U.S. Senator Tom Udall toured areas of Santa Clara Pueblo (SCP) devastated by the 2011 Las Conchas Fire for an update on the status of clean up and restoration efforts.

To view photos of the visit, click here.

Udall visited sites burned by the Las Conchas fire with SCP officials including Governor Walter Dasheno, Lieutenant Governor Bruce Tafoya and Forestry Director Michael Chavarria. Representatives from the offices of U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation were also on hand.

On the tour of the canyon, Udall saw sediment removal sites, two of the Pueblo’s four ponds, high activity tributaries and debris flow.

“As we continue to experience devastating wildfires across the west,” said Udall, “it is evident that the aftermath, flash flooding in particular, is causing emergency situations that are worse than the fire itself. The restoration efforts of Santa Clara Pueblo are ongoing, and I want to underscore the need for all of the federal agencies involved to work as a team with the Pueblo to make sure we provide maximum assistance.”

The flooding that followed last year’s fire washed out Pueblo roads, destroyed stream beds and transferred an estimated 388,000 cubic yards of sediment into SCP’s four ponds, rendering them useless in the absorption of flood water. Much of the pueblo’s efforts have focused on rebuilding roads and the removal of hazardous trees and sediment.

Udall also heard about a setback in the progress of sediment removal when a flash flood refilled the ponds with new sediment, underscoring the need for continued cleaning and restoration efforts to prevent future catastrophic flooding.

July 8, 2012 at 08:21 AM in Environment, Land Issues, Sen. Tom Udall, Water Issues | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 21, 2012

KAFB Jet Fuel Spill 3 Times Larger at 24,000,000 Gallons? by David McCoy

Photo above from Save the Water website.

From David McCoy, Executive Director of Citizen Action New Mexico wrote on Thursday, May 17, 2012;

Thanks for your continuing interest in the KAFB jet fuel crisis. I've attached an affadavit to what I heard Mr. William Moats, a geologist from the New Mexico Environment Department say. I received information that Dr. Davis (NMED) confirmed hearing Mr. William Moats' statement to me, but says nobody really knows the size and they don't know Mr. Moats' basis...

At 8,000,000 gallons the spill is still the largest, deepest and greatest threat to any City's drinking water aquifer in the history of the nation. 24,000,000 gallons may represent Armageddon for Albuquerque's Aquifer. I am hoping the Water Utility Authority seriously gets on top of the need for saving the Ridgecrest wells by 1.) demanding a plan for water treatment now from the Air Force and 2.) demanding that the LNAPL plume be stopped. If water treatment is not installed at Ridgecrest and the wells are simply shut off, the plume may travel to 40 city wells to the north. Surely, the economic benefit brought to ABQ by the Air Force cannot be greater than the value of our drinking water for homes, businesses, health and a future.

There is a WUA meeting next Wednesday May, 23 in the City Council chambers. The public can speak although the limit is usually 2 minutes. It would be good to turn out a lot of people.

The WUA should demand that the Air Force state NOW how it will treat the Ridgecrest wells. Shutting down Ridgecrest is not an option because the plume may continue to be drawn to the north to 40 other wells. Water treatment needs to be put at Ridgecrest starting immediately. If the LNAPL plume is not stopped, the water will be worthless, unless no one minds the taste of diesel fuel.

Inaccurate statements were made to the WUA at the last presentation by KAFB.
First, the movement of the LNAPL plume will not be stopped by the SVE equipment since it is not volatile. SVE is not recommended for dealing with diesel fuel. (US EPA Office of Underground Storage Tanks EPA 510-B-95-007). EPA also states: "Injection of heated air can be used to enhance the volatility of these heavier petroleum products because vapor pressure generally increases with temperature. However, energy requirements for volatility enhancement may be so large as to be economically prohibitive."

Second, there is no plan for the LNAPL containment. On April 2, 2010 the NMED ordered an Interim Measures Plan to be produced by KAFB. Three additional letters followed up that order.
From April 2, 2010:
"Therefore, on or before June 7, 2010, the permittee must submit to the Department for its review and approval an Interim Measures ("IM") Plan that describes what immediate actions it will take to remediate and stop the migration of the LNAPL plume. ... The IM Plan must also include an implementation schedule showing that remediation of the LNAPL plume will be completed within five years of the Department's approval of the IM Plan."

At the June 23, 2010 NMED presentation to the ABCWUA, Mr. Bearzi's handout stated:
"CURRENT REMEDIATION EFFORTS ARE INADEQUATE; Without doing something different, could take over 50 years to remove fuel from vadose zone and LNAPL plume."

Two years after NMED's order and there is still no approved IM Plan! There is also no enforcement of the 4/2/2010 Order.

Third, given the mass of liquid jet fuel floating on the aquifer, there is no evidence that using SVE equipment will keep the liquid from dissolving into the ground water or keep the LNAPL plume from moving. The bulk of the fuel on the aquifer is not aviation gas. It is JP-4 and JP-8 that are non-volatile fuels. So SVE won't stop the floating liquid plume's migration north. SVE will only remove whatever aviation gas is left down there and will not recover any of the JP4 and JP8 or keep it from moving. The LNAPL plume will reach a tipping point ust as the dissolved plume did. The vacuum for the SVE is 3 ft above the floating plume and cannot be put into the water.

The Colonel is not an environmental expert and the vacuum cannot come in contact with the 3 ft thick layer of the Jet Fuel. Moreover, the vacuum is only being applied on the Base and the leading edge of the dissolved plume is already 3/4 into the City and the LNAPL is 1/2 into the City. KAFB has let the plume leave the base which is 12 years of failed policy of both NMED and the AF. The two plumes in the City must be dealt with immediately. The liquid plume is 3 ft thick, one-half mile wide and one mile long. The dissolved plume with 100s of millions of gallons of aviation gas is three times the size of the LNAPL plume, 85 ft thick and contains Ethylene Dibromide (EDB), a potent carcinogen. The dissolved plume cannot be stopped from arriving at the Ridgecrest wells. Every gallon of aviation gas has 1/2 teaspoon of EDB. Every gallon of aviation gas is capable of contaminating millions of gallons of water.

Colonel Conley just doesn't understand that the vacuum which is only operating on the AF Base will only have a radius 100 ft. That is far distant from the leading edge of the plume and there are no remediation wells in the City. There will be zero effect on stopping the LNAPL because the vacuum can't touch the top of the water. There will no effect on the leading edge of the LNAPL plume heading for KAFB #3 well. Adding monitoring wells and vacuum will not stop the plume.

Citizens and the WUA should ask when the 1st gallon of jet fuel will be pumped. Otherwise, the only thing is that there will be more years of studies and we've already had 15 years of delay with no clean up. The thermal oxidizer is only a burner and doesn't pull vacuum. But again that will only be used on the AF Base. There is nothing stopping movement of the front end of the dissolved or liquid edge of the plume that is already far off the AF Base. The dissolved plume will hit the wells and we need water treatment. We need a plan for stopping the LNAPL movement.

One last item: Automatic federal budget cuts will go into effect on January 1, 2013 across all agencies. WUA needs to assure how this expensive problem of water treatment will be paid for.

David B. McCoy, Executive Director, Citizen Action New Mexico
POB 4276, Albuquerque, NM 87196-4276
505 262-1862

May 21, 2012 at 12:19 PM in Action Alerts, Environment, Guest Blogger, Water Issues | Permalink | Comments (2)

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Bingaman, Udall & Luján Request Santa Clara Flood Preparation Assistance

In anticipation of the summer monsoon season, U.S. Sens. Jeff Bingaman, Tom Udall and U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján are urging three federal agencies to commit resources to prevent catastrophic flooding in Santa Clara Pueblo that could occur as a result of the 2011 Las Conchas Wildfire.

In a letter to the Department of the Interior, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers the officials thanked the agencies for providing support in the aftermath of the Las Conchas Wildfire and asked them to quickly renew their efforts in order to protect the pueblo from this continued threat.

“Even a small rain event last summer led to intense flooding, the emergency evacuation of personnel in the canyon, the nearly complete destruction of the access road that runs up the canyon, and a Presidential Disaster Declaration,” they wrote. “A larger rain event would flood the pueblo itself, putting lives at risk, as well as hundreds of homes and the pueblo’s administration buildings.”

The Las Conchas Wild Fire stripped the Santa Clara Canyon of vegetation and hard-baked the soil, creating a dangerous funnel that routes surface water down the canyon toward the pueblo.

In the last 15 years, wildfires have burned more than 80 percent of the pueblo’s forest, resulting in the loss of natural resources, habitat and sacred sites.

The full text of the letter is below:
May 3, 2012
Re: Addressing Potentially Catastrophic Flooding at the Santa Clara Pueblo
Dear Secretary Salazar, Administrator Fugate, and Assistant Secretary Darcy:
Thank you for the support that each of your agencies and departments have offered to the Santa Clara Pueblo in the wake of the Las Conchas Wild Fire in 2011. This was the most recent fire to devastate the Pueblo’s lands. Combined with other wildfires in the last 15 years, more than 80% of the Pueblo’s forest has burned, resulting in the loss of natural resources, habitat, and sacred sites.

To our great appreciation, the Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Indian Affairs and Federal Emergency Management Agency have all committed some resources to addressing the impact of this fire. Nonetheless, while recovery from this fire will take generations, there remains an immediate threat of catastrophic flooding that must be addressed. The fire stripped Santa Clara Canyon of vegetation and hard-baked the soil, creating a dangerous funnel, routing any surface water down the canyon to the Pueblo. Even a small rain event last summer led to intense flooding, the emergency evacuation of personnel in the canyon, the nearly complete destruction of the access road that runs up the canyon, and a Presidential Disaster Declaration. A larger rain event would flood the Pueblo itself, putting lives at risk, as well as hundreds of homes and the Pueblo’s administration buildings. Post-fire hydrology studies have confirmed that this is a real and immediate threat considering the imminent monsoonal rains.

We ask that you redouble your efforts and provide assistance in the very near term to put in place structures and plans that will protect the Pueblo before the onset of the monsoon season expected this summer. In particular, we believe that:
  • the Flood Control and Coastal Emergencies (FCCE) Advance Measures program, authorized by 33 USC 701n and implemented by the Army Corps of Engineers, allows for the funding of flood control work in anticipation of post-fire related floods in northern New Mexico;
  • the Bureau of Indian Affairs has the authority and should identify funds so that the Santa Clara Pueblo can engage in critical long-term planning for recovery from the fire and subsequent flooding; and
  • funding for repair and renovation of water control structures in and out of the Santa Clara Canyon, which the Federal Emergency Management Agency has under review, should be provided as soon as possible so that work can begin immediately.

The Santa Clara Pueblo has a long road ahead, but with your support, the lives and property of the people can be protected, while the mission of restoring the canyon and forest can go on.

Jeff Bingaman, United States Senator
Tom Udall, United States Senator
Ben Ray Luján, Member of Congress

May 3, 2012 at 09:24 PM in Climate, Environment, Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (NM-03), Sen. Jeff Bingaman, Sen. Tom Udall, Water Issues | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 20, 2012

LasVegas, New Mexico, Adopts Community Bill of Rights; Bans Corporations from Fracking for Shale Gas

LvvoteblogphotoPhoto to the right from Drilling Mora County. The three Councilors: Councilman Feldman, Councilwoman Tonita Gurule Giron and Councilman Romero voted in favor of the Ordinance.

"Revolutions always start small—we know that. The Abolitionists started with 12 kids in the 1840s.This one has started small as well with a handful of communities intent on turning the existing system upside down. Hopefully, if we move forward it will make it OK for others to follow in the path. And we must make that path by actually walking it.”
Andrew Feldman, sponsor of "Las Vegas Community Water Rights and Self-Government Ordinance"

(Monday, April 2, 2012- Las Vegas, NM) In front of a standing-room only crowd of residents, by a vote of 3-1, the City Council, Las Vegas New Mexico enacted the Las Vegas Community Water Rights and Local Self-Government Ordinance, drafted by the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, which places into law a local Bill of Rights, including the right of all residents, natural communities and ecosystems to water from natural sources, the right of residents to unpolluted water for use in agriculture, the rights of natural ecosystems to exist, and flourish and of residents to protect their environment by enforcing these rights. Also enumerated is the right to a sustainable energy future, and the right to local self-government.

To protect these rights, the ordinance makes it unlawful “for any corporation to engage in the extraction of oil, natural gas, or other hydrocarbons within the City of Las Vegas and its watersheds, for any corporation to engage in the extraction of water from any surface or subsurface source within the City of Las Vegas and its watersheds for use in the extraction of subsurface oil, natural gas, or other hydrocarbons, to import water or any other substance…used in the extraction of oil, natural gas, or other hydrocarbons, into the City of Las Vegas or its watersheds for use in the extraction of subsurface oil, natural gas or other hydrocarbons within the City of Las Vegas and its watersheds.”

It is now also unlawful  “for any corporation…to deposit,store, transport or process waste water, produced water, frack water, brine or other materials, chemicals or by-products used in the extraction of oil, natural gas, or other hydrocarbons, into the land, air or waters within the City of Las Vegas,” or to “use a corporation to construct or maintain infrastructure related to the extraction of oil, natural gas, or other hydrocarbons within the City of Las Vegas or its watershed.”

The process for adoption of this local law was punctuated by drama. On February 15th Council member Andrew Feldman introduced the bill and the Council voted unanimously to advertise the ordinance and to place it on the agenda for a final hearing and vote on passage at the regularly scheduled March 21st Council meeting.

Mr. Feldman stated: "Along with the City of Pittsburgh, this is how we change federal law, folks. It starts at the bottom. We do this, and other cities do it. It starts a ball rolling that hopefully will not stop. We change our laws in this great country that protect us instead of protecting corporations."

At the hearing, no one spoke in opposition to the proposed law, but numerous voices rose in support. From the 115 community members in attendance, some spoke eloquently of the revolutionary nature of this bill. Local proponent for the ordinance Miguel Pacheco commented “This is a time we have to take a stand. This is not going to be easy, but it is the right thing to do. Our congress is holding us back. Our federal government makes the wrong choices for us in many instances. That's why this ordinance gives rights to nature, to us human beings. It elevates life. It puts corporations down where they should be. This ordinance is protecting innocents, all those who can't speak for themselves. Profit is not what human beings are about.  We need to care for one another, to take care of our environment, future generations and all living life forms."

Lee Einer of Las Vegas stated that “Our minds have been colonized, just as our land has been colonized. We live with in a legal framework that considers corporations to be persons, and Mother Nature to be property. I think that's strange! I think we have it backwards! I think Mother Nature is a person!  I think corporations are property! I think it's time to construct our laws differently."

Las Vegas NM National Wildlife refuge
Photo above: Las Vegas NM National Wildlife Refuge

Mayor Alfonso Ortiz waxed eloquently in favor of the proposed law, saying: “Be serious about what is going on here. We are challenging the establishment, federal laws. If people are looking for profit--money isn't going to mean anything if we have no drinking water. It's not just important to vote for this ordinance, but to follow through and make sure other communities do as well.  If we pass this, we will set a model for the county to pass it easily, for Mora County to pass it easily--and hopefully other counties--we need to emphasize this to the New Mexico Association of Counties and the Municipal League."

However, at the meeting on March 21st, Council and community members were dismayed to learn that the mayor and Alfonso Ortiz and the City attorney, David Romero, decided to omit the question from the agenda, so that a vote could not take place. Residents were told there would be a second hearing and a motion for a second advertisement only.

At that meeting, the mayor, who stands for re-election on April 17th, stated “I feel very comfortable with the ordinance. I just want you to understand it…we’re not against it. We’re in favor of it. You’re dealing with friends. It’s a given we want to do the right thing. I’m already convinced. The ultimate goal is that the ordinance passes.”

Mr. Romero had this to say: “I’m in full favor of working with you to strengthen this ordinance. The administration is not against this ordinance.”

None-the-less, a vote was prevented. There was further discussion and testimony from community members and against the protests of the mayor and city attorney, a unanimous vote by Council scheduled a special meeting for the vote on adoption within two weeks, prior to the upcoming election. And again, the agenda was manipulated and the special meeting scheduled for three weeks out, rather than the two weeks voted upon by Council. Supporters of the ordinance discovered the change and notified the bill’s sponsor, Council Member Andrew Feldman, and the meeting date was corrected to April 2nd.

At the April 2nd meeting, with more than 100 residents in attendance, as well as Karin Forster, attorney and executive director of the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association, the mayor and city attorney exposed their opposition to the ordinance publicly.

Mr. Romero stated that the ordinance “is preempted by state law and it has language which implies if this law is challenged, the city could consider seceding from the union or acting as a sovereign nation. That type of language in any ordinance is inappropriate. I would like to note that does not mean that from what I’ve heard that the average person is against the ordinance… And there is a 2nd part: the Community Bill of Rights… that section is just out of bounds with the laws as we know it…I feel so strongly about this that if it is passed by the council, under my oath as city attorney, I may have to challenge the issue myself as part of my duties to…”

At this point the attorney’s comments became inaudible as the residents shouted “Resign, Resign!”
Mayor Ortiz stated, “I’m concerned about this ordinance because of the significance…If we were to look at this ordinance and look at elements of it, and maybe include some things, exclude some things…I think that the majority of the people are in favor of it, but there’s little flaws, little clues in there that can be readin different ways…”

When the vote came, Councilor Tonita Gurule Giron voted yes, Councilor Vince Howell no, Councilor David Romero voted yes, and Councilor Andrew Feldman voted yes.

After the vote the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association’s Karin Forster told the city attorney the oil companies would be filing suit against the City of Las Vegas.

As a final “protest” against adoption of the ordinance, the mayor has so far refused to sign it, although he has no legal authority to halt or veto the law.

The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, located in Chambersburg, has been working with people in Pennsylvania since 1995 to assert their fundamental rights to democratic local self-governance, and to enact laws which end destructive and rights-denying corporate action aided and abetted by state and federal governments.

April 20, 2012 at 01:06 PM in Corporatism, Fracking, Land Issues, Water Issues | |

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Nearly 50,000 Pounds of Toxic Chemicals Dumped into New Mexico’s Waterways

The following press release came from Environment New Mexico. Think of republicans and their anti regulation position while you read this.

Industrial facilities dumped 49,786 pounds of toxic chemicals into New Mexico’s waterways,” according to a new report released today by Environment New Mexico. Wasting Our Waterways: Industrial Toxic Pollution and the Unfulfilled Promise of the Clean Water Act also found that 226 million pounds of toxic chemicals were discharged into 1,400 waterways across the country.

“New Mexico’s waterways are a polluter’s paradise right now. Polluters dump nearly 50,000 pounds of toxic chemicals into New Mexico’s lakes, rivers and streams every year,” said Maxine Paul, Preservation Associate with Environment New Mexico. “We must turn the tide of toxic pollution by restoring Clean Water Act protections to our waterways.”

Joe Moody, who runs Squash Blossom Farm at the end of the Santa Fe River, said of the farming business; “Weak regulations and enforcement have already done harm.  Farming in an arid region is difficult enough without the worry of toxins in our water supply.” 

Francois-Marie Patorni of the Santa Fe Watershed Association stated, "To speak the obvious, not one drop of water can be taken for granted. Ever. The Santa Fe Watershed Association supports a living Santa Fe River and a green watershed through various programs. A lot was accomplished here, including the passing of an ordinance last month guaranteeing water in the river each year. But the Santa Fe River is just one river. All stewards of the environment should work together in securing clean water for all rivers in New Mexico. We support a ‘NATO-like strategy’: an attack on ONE river is an attack on ALL our rivers."

The Environment New Mexico report documents and analyzes the dangerous levels of pollutants discharged to America’s waters by compiling toxic chemical releases reported to the U.S. EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory for 2010, the most recent data available.

Major findings of the report include

  • The biggest polluter in the state was the department of defense, releasing over 46,000 pounds of toxics at the Holloman Air Force base near Alamogordo within one year. 
  • Over 1,000 pounds of toxics were discharged into the Chamas Creek in the Apache National Forest and Morgan Lake, near Farmington
  • Industrial facilities discharged approximately 181 pounds of chemicals linked to cancer, and 140 pounds of chemicals linked to developmental and reproductive harm into our waterways.

Environment New Mexico’s report summarizes discharges of cancer-causing chemicals, chemicals that persist in the environment, and chemicals with the potential to cause reproductive problems ranging from birth defects to reduced fertility. Among the toxic chemicals discharged by facilities are arsenic, mercury, and benzene. Exposure to these chemicals is linked to cancer, developmental disorders, and reproductive disorders.

“There are common-sense steps that we can take to turn the tide against toxic pollution of our waters,” added Paul.

In order to curb the toxic pollution threatening 88% of New Mexico’s miles of waterways, Environment New Mexico recommends the following:

  1. Pollution Prevention:  Industrial facilities should reduce their toxic discharges to waterways by switching from hazardous chemicals to safer alternatives. 
  2. Protect all waters:  The Obama administration should finalize guidelines and conduct a rulemaking to clarify that the Clean Water Act applies to all of our waterways - including the 95,611 miles of streams in New Mexico and New Mexicans’ drinking water for which jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act has been called into question as a result of two polluter-driven Supreme Court decisions in the last decade.
  3. Tough permitting and enforcement:  EPA and state agencies should issue permits with tough, numeric limits for each type of toxic pollution discharged, ratchet down those limits over time, and enforce those limits with credible penalties, not just warning letters.

“The bottom line is that the land of enchantment’s waterways shouldn’t be a polluter’s paradise, they should just be paradise. We need clean water now, and we are counting on the federal government to act to protect our health and our environment,” concluded Maxine Paul.

April 10, 2012 at 09:05 AM in Environment, Water Issues | |

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Governor Martinez Establishes New Task Force

Breaking news!  Following the New Mexico State Engineer’s decision on March 30, 2012 [OSE File No. RG-89943] dismissing the San Augustin Ranch, LLC water rights application, Governor Susanna Martinez announced the creation of a new task force -- the Building Resilient Communities Task Force.

The stated goals of the task force are to examine the impacts of climate change on New Mexico communities (both urban and rural) and make recommendations by October 1 for building stronger, more resilient communities to be better prepared to adapt and respond to the serious impacts predicted by the scientific community. Governor Martinez will review these recommendations to determine what her administration can implement immediately and what might be appropriate legislation for the Legislature to take up in 2013.

“The Building Resilient Communities Task Force will pick up where  left off in 2007,” Governor Martinez said. “We must not drop the ball.  Under my predecessor’s leadership, New Mexico began to ask the tough questions.  It is more important than ever to search for the answers today with the impacts of climate change, the economic meltdown, and other challenges confronting New Mexico.”

Lora Lucero, an Albuquerque land use attorney, city planner, writer, and climate activist, has accepted the role of leading the Building Resilient Communities Task Force which will be comprised of members from the previous task force. “I’m grateful for this opportunity,” Lucero responded. “Climate change is a non-partisan issue which impacts us all, and our children’s children, without regard to political affiliation.  I look forward to working with everyone on the Task Force over the next six months and including the public in this very important work.”

April 1, 2012 at 12:59 PM in Climate, Environment, Government, Green Economy, Land Issues, Lora Lucero, Contributing Writer, Susana Martinez, Urban Issues, Water Issues | |

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

02/10 and 02/11: Film Festival To Highlight Water Issues

"It's All About Water -- Films and Conversation," a two-day film festival and public forum, will explore concerns about the pollution of our waters and water sustainability, including discussion of issues in the Southwest, New Mexico and Albuquerque.

The festival will be held Friday and Saturday, Feb. 10-11, at Albuquerque's South Broadway Cultural Center, 1025 Broadway Blvd. SE.  Doors open at 4:45 p.m. on Friday and 9 a.m. on Saturday.  Admission is free and light refreshments will be provided.

"The purpose of the festival is to spark thought by showing the films and to give participants a chance to talk about concrete steps we can take to address our concerns," said festival organizer Susan Selbin.

Eight films will cover issues ranging from city water infrastructure and water in the Southwest to the impacts of oil/gas development and the worldwide privatization of water.  In panel discussions following the films, local officials, film producers and activists will detail the local implications of issues described in the films.  Audience members will be encouraged to ask questions and raise relevant topics.

At a brown-bag lunch (participants bring own lunches) after the Saturday morning sessions, those interested will be invited to talk about steps for addressing local water-related problems.

Panelists are:

Friday:  Gwen Lachelt, the Oil and Gas Accountability Project; Debra Anderson, producer of "Split Estate";  Kathleen Dudley and Don Hamilton of Drilling Mora County;  Darleen Gomez, an attorney raised on a ranch with a "split estate";  Nadine Padilla, coordinator of the Multicultural Alliance for a Safe Environment.

Saturday:  Kathy Verhage, Albuquerque Stormwater Management; David Price, the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority; Bruce Thomson, Director of UNM Water Resources Program; Paul Robinson, the Southwest Research and Information Center.

Also Saturday: James Maestas, South Valley Regional Association of Acequias; Steve Harris, Rio Grande Restoration; Elaine Hebard, water policy expert; Dave Gutzler, professor, UNM Earth and Planetary Science Department.

Films are:

Friday:  "Natural Gas from Shales:  Some Myths and Realities"; "Split Estate"; "Tipping Point."  Saturday morning:  "Liquid Assets"; "American Southwest:  are we running dry?" 

Saturday afternoon:  "Water for the World Act of 2011"; "Tapped"; "Blue Gold."

For a detailed schedule and updates, please go to

January 31, 2012 at 07:09 PM in Environment, Events, Water Issues | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, January 27, 2012

Statement From Senator Lovejoy Regarding Republican Hurtful Words Said at Water Rights Hearing

LindaLovejoy2Senator Lynda M. Lovejoy (D) (Navajo) from Crownpoint, New Mexico released the following statement.

I am saddened by the comments attributed to State Representative Candy Ezzell (R-Roswell) and Representative Don Bratton (R-Hobbs) regarding Native Americans in this state. Our people have suffered centuries of displacement, isolation, cultural denial and disenfranchisement remedied only through treaty and contract that some seem to deny now.

It disappoints me that in this day and age in a state like New Mexico where we have such diverse groups that some are still uneducated about each other’s cultures. We marked Anti-Racism Day in New Mexico only yesterday, yet comments like those by Representatives Ezzell and Bratton show we still have a long way to go in understanding and respecting each other.

Native American elders paid a heavy price for the consideration and benefits provided by the Federal Government. These are treaty and contract agreements that have been re-affirmed repeatedly by Congress and the courts. Claiming that Native Peoples have no claim to water infrastructure on their own mother lands is a denial of the rights and obligations we have earned and fought for.

Arrangements for supplying water are a small consideration, not an addiction, guaranteed by the Federal Government to Native Americans for our historic displacement and treatment. We need to put a stop to words that keep dividing us.

January 27, 2012 at 06:17 AM in Native Americans, NM Legislature 2012, Water Issues | Permalink | Comments (6)