“Unprecedented” Protest Letter Campaign

WOW! Our turn out for Rio Arriba Concerned Citizens’ “Watershed Alert” call to action for protest letters regarding the BLM March 18th, 2018 oil and gas lease sale in the Greater Chaco provided an overwhelming majority of all protest letters received by the BLM. Our efforts were recognized by the Greater Chaco Coalition with whom we collaborate.

We are the smallest grass roots non-profit in the coalition which includes the big name organizers like Sierra Club, WildEarth Guardians, Western Environmental Law Center as well as Navajo and Pueblo groups and individuals.

While the 120 protests received by the BLM isn’t the largest ever received by them, it is the largest number received for a specific oil and gas lease sale in New Mexico. This sale in the Greater Chaco region includes parcels around Chaco as well as parcels within the Rio Chama Watershed boundary. It is unclear when a final decision will be announced regarding these leases and to what degree your protest concerns will be considered.

The Chaco Coalition recently published the BLM records of receipt, listing each letter writer’s name and a link to each protest letter. RACC double-checked to make sure that those of you who came to the letter writing event at the El Rito Library, or who specifically notified us of the date you mailed or faxed a letter, were accounted for. Only one name was missing and we will notify the letter writer.

So now they know we ROAR!

A special shout out to RACC’s hotshot Facebook manager, Carolyn Riege and Rebekah Henty, our website manager, who with grace under pressure, brought RACC’s new website alive in time to facilitate this important campaign for the writers from the Dixon community (thank you Dixon!). RACC is a small but mighty, all volunteer organization.

And if you are wondering what the New Mexico Oil and Gas Industry thinks of our collective ROAR, check out the Santa Fe Reporter lead story in their January 17 issue entitled, Making It Go ‘Boom’ RACC wrote an editorial to the Reporter in response which was published the following week(1-24-18), which you can read here. Scroll down to our editorial they entitled Frickin’ Frackin’.

RACC Signs on to NMED Letter 

On Dec. 29, 2017 the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) released for public comment a revised draft general construction permit for oil and gas facilities in New Mexico that will emit pollutants that are of deep concern to all of the signatories to this letter, including Rio Arriba Concerned Citizens.

Signatories include the Western Environmental Law Center, San Juan Citizens Alliance, Dine/Navajo Grassroots, The Wilderness Society and others.

This draft permit, which fails to adequately consider potent methane pollution, would be some of the weakest requirements in the US for oil and gas operators to protect air quality.

If you read the Santa fe Reporter’s expose on the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association (Making it Go ‘Boom’ link can be found in the above article), it was revealed that this association believes that “New Mexicans haven’t really made up their mind about methane, and they don’t quite understand the issue.” (Ryan Flynn of NMOAGA).

According to an Environmental Defense Fund analysis:

“While methane doesn’t linger as long in the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, it is initially far more devastating to the climate because of how effectively it absorbs heat. In the first two decades after its release, methane is 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Both types of emissions must be addressed if we want to effectively reduce the impact of climate change.”

“New Mexico’s oil and gas operators are emitting 570,000 tons of methane every year-equivalent to the climate impact of approximately 12 coal-fired power plants.”  

“In 2014, scientists working on a NASA study discovered a 2,500 square-mile cloud of methane hovering over the Four Corners region of New Mexico-the largest concentration of methane anywhere in the nation.”

You can link to the full EDF report here.

Once we know the facts about methane pollution, we find we do understand the issue.

You can link to the letter that RACC signed here.

A band of 48 Wild Turkeys were recently spotted in El Rito at the top of State Road 110. It is the largest group I have ever seen in the 10 years I’ve been looking! They were foraging and wandering down to the El Rito Creek.

See something interesting in your part of the watershed? Send pictures and a brief description to me and I will publish in one of our upcoming newsletters.

El Rito Campus Solar Array and NNMC EXPO

We checked in with President Rick Bailey of Northern New Mexico College
recently to see if the new tariffs announced on imported solar panels would have any affect on the timing of the array installation on the El Rito Campus.
He reported he had not heard that the tariffs would delay the project and a ribbon cutting ceremony is being planned sometime this spring. We can’t wait!

On another NNMC note we are happy to spread the news that the 3rd Annual EXPO will be happening on the Espanola campus on Wednesday, March 21st from 11-2. RACC was invited to participate in the last career fair with information about our non-profit. We’ll be there again March 21st so stop on by and say hello.

Thank you! for all you continue to do to protect the Rio Chama Watershed.