Rio Arriba Concerned Citizens is a grassroots organizations whose mission is to
“To protect the public health and land, air, and water of the Rio Chama Watershed, Rio Arriba County, and the State of New Mexico, and to promote sustainable development through education, collaborative planning, community action, and policy advocacy”
Thank you so much to everyone who wrote a protest letter to the BLM this last month. Your letters are creating opposition and building awareness!
To date RACC has received copies of over 65 protest letters. If you sent a protest letter to the BLM consider sending us a copy for our records in order to further hold BLM accountable. Please email to volunteer Cinda Graham at email@example.com.
When will we find out if the parcels are deferred?
We are doing our best to understand how the BLM will move forward with the protest period. Right now they are evaluating our letters, and categorizing and grouping our statements of reasons in order to send the mandatory response that all letter writers will receive. BLM has a meeting scheduled with the Santa Fe National Forest Supervisor to discuss the comments and protests they received in regards to the parcels we protested on Forest Service land. BLM is committed to revealing their decision to either dismiss or uphold the lease sale by October 22, 2014. So it may be a few months before we know more. All of this information was communicated to RACC by Becky Hunt, acting manager of the BLM Farmington Field Office. We will keep you up to date with any new information.
Support from WELC
In lieu of an official RACC protest letter we signed our name onto a fabulous 44 page document authored by the Western Environmental Law Center (WELC). Other signers included Amigos Bravos, the Sierra Club, and Diné C.A.RE. The lawyers at WELC addressed many compelling legal arguments that serve as a perfect companion to the particular and diverse human concerns we detailed in our citizens protest letters. To read the full text of the WELC letter click here.
To those of you who might be unfamiliar WELC is a not for profit with a mission to “…use the power of the law to safeguard the wildlife, wildlands, and communities of the American West”. We are lucky to have them on our side! They have been actively involved with these new BLM lease sales coming up on the Eastern side of the Continental Divide and played and major role in the deferral of the BLM parcels in Cebolla last January. If you value this work and feel called to and able to contribute, please consider donating to support their efforts. To learn more about WELC or to donate, visit their website.
Meeting with Experts and Government Agencies
RACC volunteers met with 13 heads of departments at the BLM Farmington Field Office including geologists, inspectors, NEPA planners, and acting manager Becky Hunt. They graciously met with us for over 2 hours to answer our questions and hear our concerns. Our greatest concern was establishing the importance of accurate data related to the ground and surface water East of the Continental Divide. We are grateful to the BLM for involving us in their process.
We also met with a representative of the State Engineers office who confirmed that there are uncertainties about geology and groundwater flow, natural springs, and possible natural fissures or faults in the uplift area where the parcels are located that are not identified in EA. The EA assumes the geology along this edge of the San Juan Basin is identical to that of the proposed parcels, which is an unsupported assumption.
We also began to work with Michael J. Darr, Hydrogeologist from Los Ranchos, NM, who met with us and produced a very strong and informed protest letter of his own. We are thankful to Mr. Darr for his expertise.
“Drilling in this area would pose a substantial risk of contamination of aquifer zones and watersheds of the Rio Gallinas and Rio Chama. More detailed studies would be required to adequately characterize the complex flow paths in this basin margin area, including water-table mapping and determination of surface water – groundwater interconnection. In short the EA does not correctly identify the aquifers in the area of parcels NM-2014-001 through -013 and with this critical technical flaw there is no basis for the FONSI.” To read more excerpts from Michel J. Darr’s letter click here.
We have also been working with Lore Pease, president of the Rio Arriba Community Health Council. In her protest letter Lore listed 37 member agencies of the RACHC including Rio Arriba County, the City of Espanola and Las Clinicas Del Norte, as well as your very own Rio Arriba Concerned Citizens.
“As we noted in Salud de Arriba!, our county health profile, childhood asthma is prevalent in northern Rio Arriba. Flaring has the potential to exacerbate this already identified problem.
Insult to our water supply threatens the health of our residents, as well as the viability of our farms. Moreover, we are very concerned that removal of our watershed from agricultural use might lead to its classification as a commodity to be sold for profit by the same industries that are now proposing their test of fracking.
Many Rio Arriba families supplement their food supply through subsistence hunting. Hunting and grazing are important sources of healthy protein for our community, and also an important economic resource.”
To read Lore Pease’s full letter click here.
There are several other compelling letters from citizens on our website.
Don’t forget to Share
If you are a Facebook user consider ‘liking’ our page. Every time you like or share the information we post your friends and friends of friends have a chance to see what is going on in our community in regards to oil and gas development. A recent post highlighting a beautiful protest letter written by Abiquiu Pueblo resident Molly Martinez was seen by almost 500 people when two of our members chose to share the post on their own page. Check it out! here
Free informative booklets detailing our counties history with oil and gas and our concerns about it are available at the Abiquiu Library, El Rito Library, and the Rising Moon Gallery. Pick one up today!
Rio Arriba is the name of our county and our group but more then that it means “Up River” and is a reminder that in New Mexico we are “up river” and what happens here will affect many downstream. Get involved today.
Visit us at www.rioarribaconcernedcitizens.com