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Newsbites – September 2015
Greenhouse Grocery Inks Land Purchase Agreement
Greenhouse Grocery and Salman Enterprises have signed an agreement allowing the grocery to purchase four acres of the former Santa Fe Greenhouses at 2904 Rufina St., off Siler Road. Slated to open July 2016, the site is to be home to a new, mid-city cooperative grocery whose mission is to serve the entire community, providing healthy, nutritious food at affordable prices. In so doing, the grocery’s founders are aiming for food equity and security, economic resilience and community empowerment. For more information, visit greenhousegrocery.coop
2015 Taos Fall Arts Festival—Sept. 25 – Oct. 4
The 2015 Taos Fall Arts Festival includes several distinct art shows held at six locations along a 0.7-mile walking tour through Taos’ central core. The Chile Line bus will offer free rides for those not willing or able to walk. Events include: The Taos Select, an independently juried competition featuring over 200 works from Taos County artists in a range of media: The Taos Open at the Guadalupe Gym behind Our Lady of Guadalupe Church showcasing emerging as well as established artists and including youth art, fashion and wearable art and jewelry, along with other visual arts. September 25 and 26, 1 p.m.-10 p.m., is The Paseo (www.paseotaos.org). Forty-eight international artists and artist collectives will transform Taos’ historic district with 25 experimental, ephemeral, interactive, “unhangable” artworks/performances.
On Oct. 1 and 2 at 7 pm, the free Taos Environmental Film Festival, dedicated to the Río Grande del Norte National Monument and Columbine-Hondo Wilderness campaigns, will take place at the Taos Center for the Arts. Thirteen short films from the Wild & Scenic Film Festival will celebrate the beauty of the oceans, mountains, rivers and wildlife around the world while shining a spotlight on the fragility of our planet.
The Taos Arts Festival also includes guided tours at public art collections, satellite theater presentations and additional satellite art shows throughout Taos. The opening weekend also features Trade Fair Days at the Martínez Hacienda. The closing weekend coincides with the Taos Wool Festival in Kit Carson Park. For more information, visit http://www.taosfallarts.com
Three Trails Conference – Sept. 17-20 in Santa Fe
Three national historic trail associations, along with scholars, trail enthusiasts and the general public, are gathering at the Santa Fe Convention Center to celebrate and learn about the three historic trade routes that opened the American West to settlement and commerce. El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro connected Santa Fe and Mexico City from 1589 to the late 1800s; the Santa Fe Trail in 1821 connected the Southwest and Mexico with the eastern United States; the Old Spanish Trail opened in 1829, connecting Santa Fe to Los Angeles.
There will be field trips to nearby sites. The Backcountry Horseman of America, having traveled 600 miles from Utah, will arrive in front of the Palace of the Governors at about 3 p.m. on Sept. 16 to kick off the event. 505.920.4970, 3TrailsConferenceSantaFe.org
States Attempt to Block Federal Water Rule
Thirteen states, including New Mexico, have been seeking a preliminary injunction to block the Obama administration’s new “Waters of the U.S.” rule that gives the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers authority to use the Clean Water Act to protect some streams, tributaries and wetlands. The state officials think the rule will usurp state and local control. Contending the rule is “unnecessary and unlawful,” they filed a lawsuit in North Dakota on June 29. Dozens of similar lawsuits have been filed by business and agriculture groups in at least eight U.S. district courts.
The rule, set to go into effect on Aug. 28, has spurred the U.S. Supreme Court, Congress, landowners and farmers, to have the EPA clarify how particular waterways are defined and which smaller waterways would be protected. In July, North Dakota’s attorney general and attorneys general and officials from 30 states sent a letter to the EPA requesting that the law be postponed for at least nine months. They did not receive a response. An EPA spokesman said his agency has been “carefully reviewing” it. It is not known when the judge in North Dakota will issue his decision.
Fracking Continues in the Greater Chaco Area
A federal judge last month refused to grant a temporary halt to oil-and-gas drilling in the greater Chaco Canyon National Historical Park area, as sought by a coalition of Navajo and environmental groups. The groups have filed a lawsuit over the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) drilling plan. The plan, which is being revised in the face of a shale-oil boom, would allow hundreds of fracking permits.
“We are dismayed by the decision because full-scale, unregulated oil-and-gas development continues to impose devastating impacts on human, cultural and environmental resources on Dinétah (Navajo homelands) and surrounding areas,” said Colleen Cooley of Diné Citizens Against Ruining our Environment. Horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has heavily industrialized the region with truck traffic and a vast network of new roads, oil tanks, pipelines, flares and equipment.
Plaintiffs in the lawsuit are Diné Citizens Against Ruining Our Environment, San Juan Citizens Alliance, WildEarth Guardians and the Natural Resources Defense Council. Attorneys from the Western Environmental Law Center represent the groups.
New Mexico Supreme Court to Review Copper Rule
The New Mexico Supreme Court has granted a petition, filed by the New Mexico Environmental Law Center (NMELC) on behalf of Amigos Bravos, Gila Resources Information Project and Turner Ranch Properties, L.P., requesting review of the Copper Rule. The Rule, backed by Gov. Susana Martínez and the New Mexico Environment Department, regulates discharges from copper mines in New Mexico.
Amigos Bravos and allies are challenging the Rule, adopted in September 2013, alleging that it gives the copper industry the right to pollute vast amounts of groundwater—future drinking water supplies—in direct conflict with the state Water Quality Act, and sets a precedent for other industries. Lowering the cost of doing business for polluters transfers the cost of cleanup and the cost of public health outcomes to New Mexico taxpayers, the groups say.
Petitions filed with the Supreme Court by the New Mexico Attorney General and a former state Groundwater Bureau chief, also requesting a review of these issues, have also been granted by the court.
Advocates Seek Reform of Coal Lease Program
Coal mines in New Mexico employ about 1,500 people and account for a payroll close to $100 million, according to the state Minerals and Natural Resources Department. Although the industry is in decline, about 60 percent of the electricity generated nationwide is still from coal, 40 percent of which comes from public land. The Department of the Interior continues to lease millions of acres to mining companies, even as the Obama administration ramps up efforts to curb greenhouse gases from coal-burning power plants.
The BLM hosted a listening session on coal issues in Farmington, N.M. last month. Despite the hearing’s location, the San Juan Basin, only a few people spoke in favor of coal mining, many of those fearful of losing their jobs. Over a dozen organizations testified in support of reforming what they see as an outdated federal coal lease program. Nellis Kennedy-Howard, of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign, said, “Many coal companies aren’t required to set aside enough money or insurance to clean up public lands after they are done mining—leaving taxpayers on the hook.” Also cited were coal mining’s health- and climate-change impacts (which communities increasingly have to pay for), the need for New Mexico taxpayers to receive a fair share of profits from mines on public lands, and the need for the BLM to increase coal’s royalty rate to match that of other fossil fuels.
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