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Newbites – April 2014
Regional Coalition of LANL Communities Lobbies NM Congressional Delegation
The Regional Coalition of Los Alamos National Laboratory Communities, a member of the Washington, DC-based Energy Communities Alliance, was formed in 2011, and plays a role in protecting and promoting communities of northern NM. The coalition is comprised of eight cities, counties and pueblos surrounding the Los Alamos National Laboratory.
Members of the Regional Coalition traveled to Washington D.C. in late February to advocate for $255 million in support of environmental remediation at LANL, the minimum amount needed to meet the cleanup agreement negotiated between the NM Environment Department and the US Department of Energy. The coalition also discussed its federal legislative priorities, which include engaging local and government officials in all aspects of DOE cleanup, having DOE and NMED identify their cleanup priorities for LANL, and fostering transparent communication between local governments, states, tribes and DOE. The coalition, which successfully helped secure an additional $40 million for cleanup at LANL last year, also supports diversification of LANL’s missions and regional economic development.
The coalition’s meetings were overshadowed by a truck fire and radiation release at WIPP, the only site in the US licensed for transuranic nuclear waste. The issues at WIPP underscored the need for local governments and communities to be involved in environmental remediation decision-making at our nation’s nuclear labs.
SF City Council Resolution Opposes PNM’s Replacement Power Plan
After two public hearings where it heard testimony from public health advocates, doctors, local business owners, teachers and students, and after receiving over 600 letters from the public, on March 26, Santa Fe’s governing body voted unanimously to oppose a proposal by PNM to replace two of the coal-fired units at the San Juan Generating Plant with more coal, nuclear power and natural gas. The city plans to take this position as an intervener in the case pending before the NM Public Regulation Commission. A public hearing is scheduled for Aug. 19-29.
The City Council’s resolution declares that: “The closure of San Juan Units 2 and 3 presents a critical opportunity to rapidly deploy renewable energy technologies to meet NM’s energy demands.” It also says: “PNM’s replacement power plan fails to meet the city’s CO2 reduction goals, energy efficiency goals, isn’t the lowest cost solution, is not the best environmental outcome, does not provide the best employment opportunities and doesn’t recognize the external costs to human health.” The resolution also opposes PNM’s request to raise customer rates to recoup the investment it made in the two units it is decommissioning upon formal approval from the EPA and the NM PRC.
New Website Provides Cities with Sustainability Tools
The National League of Cities’ (NLC) Sustainable Cities Institute has launched a new website (www.sustainablecitiesinstitute.org) to provide information, tools and resources to local governments and professionals who want to develop sustainability in their cities and communities. The website provides a toolkit that features best practices, case studies, model policies and communication tools that can be used to build strong and healthy communities. A number of cities are profiled, providing information about their commitments to sustainability, internal operations and accomplishments.
“Cities across America understand the vital importance of incorporating sustainability into everything we do—our transportation systems, new projects and redevelopment, water infrastructure and waste management—to name a few,” said NLC President Chris Coleman, mayor, Saint Paul, Minn.
Topics on the website include a variety of subjects and detailed resources for how cities can be sustainable in their operations and projects. Topics include: Land Use & Planning, Water & Green Infrastructure, Buildings & Energy Efficiency, Equity & Engagement, Transportation, Climate Adaptation & Resilience, Materials Management, Urban Agriculture and Food Systems.
Plastic Bag Ban Instituted in Santa Fe
The city of Santa Fe’s plastic bag ban began to be enforced on March 27. To counter the environmental damage that single-use plastic bags have caused, grocery stores and other retail outlets have stopped providing customers with plastic carryout bags that are less than 2.5 mils thick. Restaurants and nonprofits that serve the needy are exempt. Stores will still be able to provide smaller bags for bulk items such as meat, produce and baked goods.
A requirement that retailers charge a 10-cent fee for paper shopping bags has, for now, been dropped. The fee was intended as an incentive for shoppers to get into the habit of bringing their own reusable, washable bags and to reimburse businesses for the higher cost of paper bags. City lawyers claimed the fee was an impermissible tax. Litigation over the issue has arisen in other states and is pending in Colorado. The city of Santa Fe is distributing free reusable bags. More information is available at: bagtodiffersantafe.com
Great March for Climate Action coming through New Mexico
On March 1, 1,000 climate action activists set out from Los Angeles, Calif. to walk nearly 3,000 miles to Washington, DC. The mobile community of environmentalists and educators is walking to raise awareness and to educate people and legislators about the effects of climate disruption and how to address it.
In New Mexico, the approximate route goes through Zuni, Black Rock, Ramah, Grants, Acoma, Laguna, Albuquerque, Santa Ana Pueblo, Río Rancho, Bernalillo, San Felipe Pueblo, Kewa (Santa Domingo) Pueblo, Cochiti Pueblo, Santa Fe, Tesuque, Pojoaque, Nambé, Picurís Pueblo, Taos, San Cristobal, Questa and Costilla, beginning in late April through May. To volunteer or join the march, contact: email@example.com or visit climatemarch.org/New_Mexico
2014 Sustainable SF Award Winners and Gala
Santa Fe Mayor Pro Tem Peter Ives and other elected officials will present this year’s Sustainable Santa Fe Awards during “Green Drinks,” the monthly event hosted by the Santa Fe Green Chamber. The free event is open to the public, April 2, 5:30-7 pm at the Eldorado Hotel. The award winners will be on hand to share their projects and answer questions. The partners who have made this awards event possible are the Santa Fe Sustainability Commission and Youth Allies Board, the Green Chamber of Commerce, Green Fire Times and the Eldorado Hotel and Spa.
The 2014 Sustainable Santa Fe Awards winners are:
· Desert Academy Outdoor / Sustainability Club—Community Outreach
· Four Bridges Traveling Permaculture Institute—Environmental Advocacy
· Santa Fe Community College Culinary Arts Garden—Food Systems
· The Raincatcher for Climate Adaptation—Water
· Surroundings Studio for Climate Adaptation—Ecosystem
· Consolidated Solar Technologies—Renewable Energy
· Aerolenz—Green Building Systems
· Solar Logic—Green Economic Development
· Santa Fe County—Low Carbon Transportation
· Santa Fe Public Schools and EcoVim—Waste Reduction
· Global Warming Express—Youth-Led
· Reflective Images and Marc Choyt-—Triple-Bottom-Line
· US Geological Survey—Innovative Sustainability Research
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