Jemez Mt. Electric Co-op Moves in the Right Direction

“On August 25, 2017, the Jemez Mountain’s Electric Cooperative Board of Trustees voted to send a letter to Tri-State Generation & Transmission asking to discuss the possibility of increasing the use of renewable energy resources in the Co-op’s service area.”  So reported the Rio Grande Sun of 9/7/17.

This was partly due to the persistence of local environmental activist, Luis Torres.  He first asked the Jemez Electric Cooperative Board to send such a letter to Tri-State in an op-ed published in the July 27’17 edition of the Rio Grande Sun.  He then went to the Jemez Board meeting of July 28th to ask the board to send such a letter.  The board took no action. Torres wrote a letter to Board Chairman, Naranjo, which did not receive a reply.

On August 25, Torres personally asked the Board once more. The first vote response by the board was negative. Then, due to some mistakes in procedure and a recess, the vote was called again. The board voted the second time unanimously in favor of sending the letter to Tri-State.

R.A.C.C. thinks that increasing the proportion of renewable energy sources in the Jemez Mountain’s Electrical utility supply system will not only reduce the cost to its consumers over time, but will reduce the pressure on the area’s natural, non-renewable resources, such as oil & gas and pure water.

We would like to applaud the Jemez Mountain’s Electrical Cooperative Board of Trustees on their positive, forward looking, decision. We would also like to recommend that anyone who agrees might want to write a note to the board to let them know of your approval & appreciation. You can email the Jemez Mt Electric board here.

On a tangential note, SEIA (Solar Energy Industries Association) recently reported that “the hottest job over the next decade is expected to be solar installer.” Solar installers will represent the biggest growth for jobs in the economy at 105.3%.

SEIA also interviewed the CEO of Renewable Energy Corporation, Steve O’Neil. O’Neil noted that due to all the recent extreme storm activity, solar is looking like a very good alternative energy source. Solar’s ability to provide energy independence and reliability as well as being quick on the installation side when building new infrastructure, is making a solar energy source the most practical and cost effective option in a changing climate scenario.

note: Thanks to Cinda Graham of R.A.C.C. for tracking this great story!

McCune Foundation Grant Award to R.A.C.C.

“The Foundation emphasizes quality among non-profit organizations, their boards and staff and encourages those organizations to develop a culture of excellence.”

R.A.C.C. just received a generous grant from the McCune Foundation for completion of our new website. Canton Becker, architect of the Christ In the Desert and Upaya Zen Center websites, will be designing a web presence for our organization that will better reflect our mission of protecting the Rio Chama Watershed and promoting a sustainable energy job future for our area. You will still find tons of resource information on oil and gas development and we will be adding educational material on how we might bring our watershed into the new energy economy. Please stay tuned and in the interim you can interact with R.A.C.C. via our wonderful and informative Facebook page.

Thank you McCune Foundation! It’s a great feeling to know we have your support as we strive to protect the essential Rio Chama Watershed. Thanks also to our fiscal sponsor, Luciente, for their assistance during the application process.

No Drilling is Status Quo for Our Watershed

Bill Clark of R.A.C.C. attended a SFNF open house on August 16th where Larry Gore, head ranger at the Cuba Ranger station, provided an update on the October 2014 Oil & Gas Lease Sale in the Santa Fe National Forest. The topic of the open house was entitled: Archaeology, Oil and Gas, and Forest Plan.

Bill learned that the oil and gas leases have not been turned over to the companies that bought them and that there are no Applications for Permits to Drill (APD) for any of the leases. This is good news!

The Western Environmental Law Center (WELC) has a law suit pending with the National Forest over the leases.

Larry Gore of the SFNF seemed to be implying that, for now, these leases are basically “stranded assists” without the infrastructure to support them. 

Raton Basin Earthquakes Linked to Oil and Gas Injection Wells

The study, which took place in the 2,200-square-mile Raton Basin along the central Colorado-northern New Mexico border, found more than 1,800 earthquakes up to magnitude 4.3 during that period, linking most to wastewater injection well activity. Such wells are used to pump water back in the ground after it has been extracted during the collection of methane gas from subterranean coal beds.

One key piece of the new study was the use of hydrogeological modeling of pore pressure in what is called the “basement rock” of the Raton Basin — rock several miles deep that underlies the oldest stratified layers. Pore pressure is the fluid pressure within rock fractures and rock pores.

While two previous studies have linked earthquakes in the Raton Basin to wastewater injection wells, this is the first to show that elevated pore pressures deep underground are well above earthquake-triggering thresholds, said CU Boulder doctoral student Jenny Nakai, lead study author. The northern edges of the Raton Basin border Trinidad, Colorado, and Raton, New Mexico.

“We have shown for the first time a plausible causative mechanism for these earthquakes,” said Nakai of the Department of Geological Sciences. “The spatial patterns of seismicity we observed are reflected in the distribution of wastewater injection and our modeled pore pressure change.”

A paper on the study was published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth. Co-authors on the study include CU Boulder Professors Anne Sheehan and Shemin Ge of geological sciences, former CU Boulder doctoral student Matthew Weingarten, now a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University, and Professor Susan Bilek of the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology in Socorro.

as reported by ScienceDaily 

Thanks to the Nature Conservancy for this image of Global Warming impacts on New Mexico

HCN Covers the San Juan Basin

High Country News is a great news source for environmental issues in the West. A recent article in their September issue entitled, Greening the Gospel, focuses on why a religious community in the San Juan Basin is taking on climate change.

Between the Navajo Nation and the Jicarilla Apache Reservation, in what is referred to as the oil and gas sacrifice zone of Northern New Mexico, there is a mostly Navajo congregation called Lybrook Community Ministries. High Country News reporter Sarah Tory reports about their leader’s climate change revelations:

“Every day, Therrien, a blond, ruddy and tattooed man of Irish descent, looked out his window and saw a dry land getting drier. Residents told him that winters used to be much colder and snowier. The hotter temperatures thickened the methane haze, and oil and gas traffic tore up the dirt roads. Therrien started to see these problems as injustices that conflicted with Christian values. So he decided to take a stand. Churches have long played a crucial role in social movements, from the civil rights era to immigration reform. Why not environmental activism?”

Instead of lecturing to his congregation, Therrien decided to lead by example and created a garden to reduce the church’s use of fossil fuels to transport food. He also began a fundraising campaign for solar installations on homes around the mission as well as urging lawmakers to further regulate methane emissions from oil and gas development drilling. He also joined a network of congregations across the U.S. who were seeking to provide a “religious response to global warming.”

Inspired by Pope Francis, nine Catholic organizations have recently announced that they are planning to divest from fossil fuel corporations.

You can link to High Country News and all of their stories on the West here.