BLM Extends Comment Period for RMP

As reported by our local news source, the Abiquiu News, the Bureau of Land Management has extended the comment period for the Farmington Resource Management Plan: Mancos-Gallup Amendment. The project type is described as an amendment regarding the Environmental Impact Statement associated with that plan.

Due to an outcry regarding the amendment from local governmental and Pueblo officials, including Governor Grisham and the All Pueblo Council of Governors, a new deadline of Sept. 25, 2020 has been set for public comment. Along with New Mexico environmental organizations like RACC, a demand was made that a new Resource Management Plan be created, one that considers human and environmental health. You can link to the letter here.

The letter also demanded no new leasing. And most importantly, the letter demanded environmental justice that analyzes “the impacts of existing and potential fracking development on public health, local quality of life, sacred, spiritual, and cultural resources, issues of Free, Prior and Informed Consent well as environmental and social justice, and climate change.”

RACC ordered a paper copy of the Draft Resource Management Plan which has been in the works for the last 6 years and when physically measured the four volumes came out at a robust two and one inches thick.

This plan primarily affects the Greater Chaco Region and Navajo Communities (our neighbors) which have been hit very hard by the COVID 19 Pandemic. Not only the pandemic but a lack of economic resources in general keep this region without adequate internet access so they can fully participate in a BLM amendment that will prioritize more oil and gas development in and near their communities.

This is an environmental justice issue and a racial equality issue. From our research, it seems much of oil and gas development in this country ends up in disenfranchised communities, like the Navajo Nation, that may be hungry for the revenue and disempowered for the above reasons. Now that we, the people, are tearing down the statues of our racist forbearers, is it possible that we will look at those industries and institutions that thrive on the backs of communities that are disempowered due to endemic racial inequality and poverty?

Rebecca Solnit, a wonderful writer on the environment among other things recently said, “You can’t have climate change without sacrifice zones, and you can’t have sacrifice zones without disposable people, and you can’t have disposable people without racism.”

As the new comment deadline of Sept. 25th gets closer, we will try to keep you informed about how you can weigh in on this plan. We are attempting to streamline the process as much as possible because we know the general frustration with the BLM Comment Period is well…..frustrating!! We will be aligning with larger, paid environmental groups and adopting their protest methods so you are sure to have your voice heard in a straightforward process.

These are our neighbors and fellow New Mexicans, and while no new leasing is happening in the Rio Chama Watershed we should add our voices to theirs as they fight for the right to influence what is going down on their sacred land.

Please stay tuned to our website and our newsletters. Public outcry works, now more than ever! 

Solar Options Take the Lead at San Juan Plant

Hearing examiners with the Public Regulation Commission in New Mexico recently issued a recommendation that the coal-fired San Juan Generating Station move to install solar panels with the capacity to produce hundreds of megawatt of electricity with back-up storage systems. This solar option is moving to the top of the list of options for replacing the coal-fired plant.

The recommendation states that New Mexico’s new energy transition law puts more weight on environmental effects than on cost. Ratepayers may see increased bills under this scenario if the transition moves forward.

Farmington has been working to keep the plant open as part of a proposed carbon-capture project. The Dept. of Energy recently awarded $2.7 million for an engineering study to investigate the feasibly of this plan.

The New Energy Economy folks have fought for years to curtail PNM’s continued investment in Palo Verde Nuclear as well as PNM’s use of nuclear as replacement power for the first closures at the San juan Coal Plant. They opposed PNM’s nuclear investments in two subsequent rate-cases and won a Supreme Court Victory that resulted in the finding that PNM’s investment was imprudent.

RACC was among the signers of the petition stopping PNM.

NM Political Report

Here are links to two articles about the potential re-use of frack water in the State of New Mexico. This is a developing story and we’ll try to keep you posted.

New Mexico Green Amendment Movement

This movement was recently brought to our attention by Mike Neas, a formidable advocate for our beloved Rio Chama River. We feel it is a perfect fit for our organization as it seeks ultimately to protect the Rio Chama along with all our water bodies in New Mexico.

The history of the origins of this movement are compelling. Many years ago the State of Pennsylvania, which has a history of industry assault on their land and water, added an environmental amendment to their state constitution that clearly states that people in the state of Pennsylvania have a constitutional right to pure water, and clean air. They have used this Green Amendment over and over to defend their rights under the state constitution. 

The familiar route in addressing pollution historically has focused on managing pollution not on providing a clean environment the first place for us and future generations. The Green Amendment idea gives power to the people as they address the health of their environment. With a formal amendment added to New Mexico’s constitution we can expect that our current and future state officials will base their decision making about the environment on that amendment.

In that way, climate change will have to be managed in New Mexico, using the Green Amendment guidelines, no matter who is in office.

Here is a link to the petition that can make this happen in New Mexico. We think you might like it and will want to sign. RACC as an organization, has signed on.

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