April 2014

Snapshots from Around New Mexico: Hot Environmental Issues in 2014


The following are a sampling of responses from a wide range of environmental organizations in response to being asked to briefly identify what they consider to be the most pressing environmental issues facing New Mexico. Taken together, one cannot help being moved by the clearly heartfelt commitment of these advocates as they go all-in to protect our land, air, water and interdependence with the rest of nature. Contact information is provided, and we encourage you to dig deeper and find a way to support your chosen issue and organization. We must all be involved in shaping our own destiny.


Earl James, environmental activist and author

www.earldjames.com, www.thelifecairnproject.org





Conservation Voters New Mexico: Electrical Costs Should Not Be Discounted to New Big Businesses by Raising Rates on Working Families and Small Businesses

We successfully defeated that bill during the recent legislative session, but we know it will be discussed by interim committees this summer, and possibly reintroduced next year. This legislation also allows this to happen without oversight of the Public Regulation Commission, and promotes “excess capacity” instead of energy conservation. Energy efficiency also helps protect our environment. Low energy rates to a few chosen heavy users can encourage waste. 505.992.8683, www.cvnm.org


Environment New Mexico: Increase Solar Energy in New Mexico
With more than 310 days of sunshine a year, New Mexico is the second-sunniest state in the country, yet we get almost 90 percent of our energy from dirty and dangerous sources. We have great potential to get more of our energy from renewable sources, but the oil and coal industries want to keep us hooked on the past instead of moving forward. ENM has set a goal to get at least 10 percent of NM’s total energy, the equivalent of 100,000 solar roofs, from the sun by 2020.
505.254.4819 info@environmentnewmexico.org, www.environmentnewmexico.org


New Energy Economy: PNM’s Future Energy Portfolio

After forcing PNM to retire San Juan coal plant units 2 and 3 and install pollution controls on units 1 and 4, New Energy Economy and allies must fight PNM’s proposal to replace that energy with less than 10 percent from renewable sources, relying instead upon more coal, nuclear and gas. And this is in one of North America’s most bountiful solar locations that could create clean, affordable distributed energy and jobs for New Mexicans. 505.989.72726, www.NewEnergyEconomy.org





Audubon New Mexico: Protecting the Gila River

New Mexico’s last major free-flowing river is threatened from a proposed large-scale diversion and pipeline over the Continental Divide to Deming or Las Cruces.  What’s at stake is the largest stretch of cottonwood-willow riparian forest remaining in NM, one of the highest concentrations of breeding birds in North America, and a living river supporting outdoor recreation and tourism. The Interstate Stream Commission will decide this year whether to divert the Gila or implement conservation measures to secure the future water supply for southwestern NM. You can help protect the river by joining Audubon’s Western Rivers Action Network: audubonaction.org/westernrivers-nm.


Gila Conservation Coalition (GCC): Prevent an Unnecessary and Costly Diversion of the Gila River Under the Arizona Water Settlements Act

A partnership of local environmental and conservation groups and concerned individuals that promotes conservation of the Upper Gila River Basin and surrounding lands, the GCC was instrumental in stopping the Hooker and Conner Dam proposals in the 1980s and protected the East Fork of the Gila River from road building and partial closure of the wild San Francisco River to off-road-vehicle use. 575.538.8078, info@gilaconservation.org, www.gilaconservation.org


Río Grande Restoration: Environmental Flow Policy

A greater emphasis on conservation, watershed, and statewide environmental-flow programs (like those enacted in neighboring states) is needed to provide adequate magnitude, seasonality and quality of water flows for our rivers. Economic development has altered the natural flow regime of NM’s rivers, with the Río Grande and Pecos rivers almost depleted at various times and places, while the Gila and Río Chama are threatened by drought, climate change and increasing water supply demands. www.riogranderstoration.com


Río Grande Return: The Need to Protect and Enhance Additional Wetlands along the Río Grande

The competition for control and development of the Río Grande and its natural resources has been ongoing for over 300 years and has contributed to the loss of 90 percent of its wetlands. The degradation of these riverine habitats has recently been exacerbated by the severe drought. Building partnerships based on a shared vision of preserving the ecological health of the Río Grande, a vision that necessarily crosses cultural, jurisdictional, and geographic barriers, has been the key to the successes that Río Grande Return and its many allies have had. State, federal and private funds are needed. www.riograndereturn.com


Santa Fe Watershed Association: Reviving the Santa Fe River

The SFWA’s Adopt-the-River program choreographs partnerships among the business and nonprofit communities and civic volunteers. Volunteers are matched with an area along the Santa Fe River in need of care and become the monitors of that particular reach. Teams remove debris and recommend measures to improve the overall health of the river. The SFWA provides training, education, support and supplies. 505.820.1696 gabrielle@santafewatershed.org, www.santafewatershed.org


Wild Earth Guardians: The Río Grande Needs a Right to Its Own Water

Over the past century, demands for water from agriculture and sprawling cities have severely diminished flows essential to support life along the Río Grande. We are pursuing litigation under the Endangered Species Act, crafting federal legislation to support conservation and environmental values, and creating economic incentives to allow for the reallocation of water from certain traditional uses—like flood irrigating alfalfa in the desert—back to the Río Grande to keep it alive and flowing. 303.884.2702, jpelz@wildearthguardians.org, www.wildearthguardians.org





Amigos Bravos: Human Health Threats from the Radioactive Liquid Waste Facility and Toxic Stormwater Discharges at LANL

Amigos Bravos is also responding to proposed amendments to the Dairy Rule, Superfund cleanup at the Chevron Questa mine, and industry attempts to downgrade protective health criteria through the Triennial Review of Water Quality Standards. www.amigosbravos.org


Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety (CCNS)

For the past 26 years, CCNS has worked to protect the air, water, land and public health through successful lawsuits against the Department of Energy, grassroots organizing, working with whistleblowers, and production of the weekly broadcast of the CCNS News Update. We need an independent review board to investigate the on-going releases from the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP). 505.986.1973, ccns@nuclearactive.org, www.nuclearactive.org



Honor our Pueblo Existence (HOPE): Seismic Issues at Los Alamos National Laboratory

The geological location of LANL is not safe for weapons production, processing or storage of toxic wastes because of the many faults within the sacred Jémez Mountains and Pajarito Plateau, a major watershed in which contaminates can reach the Río Grande and our sole-source aquifer for future generations’ use. With Robert Gilkeson, independent registered geologist, we have been addressing this issue with the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, Department of Energy, Congressional Delegation, and tribes. 505.747.4652, mariannaranjo@icloud.com or mariann2@windstream.net


Multicultural Alliance for a Safe Environment (MASE): Prevent New Uranium Mining and Cleanup Abandoned Mines on the Navajo Nation and Elsewhere in New Mexico

The proposed new Roca Honda uranium mine we oppose is located on Mt. Taylor, an area considered sacred by the Navajo and Pueblo peoples. (MASE: Bluewater Valley Downstream Alliance, Eastern Navajo Diné Against Uranium Mining, Laguna Acoma Coalition for a Safe Environment, Post 71 Uranium Workers Committee, and Red Water Pond Road Community Association.) 505.577.8438, susangordon@earthlink.net, www.masecoaltion.org


Nuclear Watch New Mexico: Comprehensive Cleanup at Los Alamos National Laboratory

Comprehensive cleanup of Area G will permanently protect the environment while creating hundreds of high-paying jobs. We oppose LANL’s plan to “cap and cover” an estimated one million cubic meters of radioactive and toxic wastes in its largest unlined dump, Area G. This will create a permanent nuclear waste dump three miles uphill from the Río Grande, above groundwater supplies for 270,000 people. 505.989.7342, info@nukewatch.org, www.nukewatch.org


Southwest Research and Information Center: WIPP – Nuclear Waste

With the underground fire on Feb. 5 and radiation leak that began on Feb. 14, the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, the nation’s only deep geologic nuclear-waste site, is again in the news. We have followed WIPP for more than 35 years and will continue to help people understand what’s wrong with WIPP and what decontamination and operational changes are necessary when the site reopens. Also, there are numerous proposals to expand WIPP for more nuclear waste and to store the nation’s commercial spent fuel in southeastern NM. New Mexicans can and should be involved in those decisions. 505.262.1862, info@sric.org, www.sric.org





Bold Visions Conservation: Reform of NM’s Game and Fish Department

At the heart of true conservation is the reform of NM’s Game and Fish Department, which has control over the fate of predator species such as Mexican wolves, coyotes and bears. Long controlled by livestock interests, they are destroying the balance of nature without using any peer-reviewed science. Bold Visions Conservation is working to reform this rogue agency and restore the true wildness that nature has beautifully created.505.252.0705, www.bvconservation.org





New Mexico Land Conservancy: Protection and Long-Term Stewardship of Productive Working Lands

We work with private landowners, community groups, nonprofits and public agencies to protect private lands—farms, ranches, forest lands, and other high-conservation-value private lands—with demonstrated conservation, natural and cultural resources, and/or agricultural values at community, watershed or landscape scales from inappropriate development, energy production and other incompatible uses through the use of conservation easements. 505.986.3801, scottwilber@nmlandconservancy.org, www.nmlandconservancy.org


New Mexico Wilderness Alliance: Rallying Support for the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument in Southern New Mexico

Please join this historic opportunity to protect nearly 500,000 acres of important ecological resources, world-class historical and cultural sites, and incredible iconic vistas. Show your support at action.nmwild.org, and learn more about our campaigns including Mexican gray wolves, Río Grande del Norte, Chaco Canyon, and Columbine Hondo atwww.nmwild.org


Rural Conservation Alliance: Prevent a Gravel Strip-Mine on Top of La Bajada Mesa

This stunning and historically important landmark will be desecrated by this planned mine and use up to three-quarter million gallons of scarce, County-provided, potable water annually for dust control and gravel washing. The NM Heritage Alliance in 2003 listed La Bajada as an endangered site, describing it as: “…a key landscape demarcation between what the Spanish colonial world termed the Río Abajo and Río Arriba regions of New Mexico—the lower and upper lands with their distinct ecologies and climates.” murlock@raintreecounty.com, www.savelabajada.org


Santa Fe Conservation Trust: Preserving Open Spaces and Promoting Healthy Outdoor Activity

SFCT continues on its mission to help preserve our area’s open space, trails and night skies. This year, through the support of the city of Santa Fe, SFCT is launching a new trails program to help maintain our city’s natural-surface trails and to promote their use by residents and visitors. For information on trails in our area and how you can help by serving as a trail volunteer, contact Tim Rogers: 505.989.7019, tim@sfct.org, http://sfct.org/trails





New Mexico Recycling Coalition: Reaching a 50 Percent Recycling Rate

We are working in partnership with the NM Environment Department to host a stakeholder meeting on June 11 in Albuquerque to respond to a 2014 House Memorial requesting strategies and policy to meet the state recycling-rate goal of 50 percent, as outlined in the NM Solid Waste Management Act. The state currently has a 16 percent recycling rate. Interested people are welcome to attend. www.recyclenewmexico.com


Pajarito Environmental Education Center: Nature Deficit Disorder in Children

Can you tell a story about what made you want to become a person who protects our natural world? If you’re like most of us, that story will involve playing outside—discovering something you felt like no one had ever seen before. Kids today don’t often get to make those kinds of memories. Unstructured play in the outdoors is critical to protecting our environment because, without these kinds of experiences, kids grow up not caring about nature. The PEEC in Los Alamos provides nurturing nature play for children in our Nature Play Area. 505.662.0460, director@pajaritoeec.org, www.pajaritoeec.org





Earth Care NM: Increasing Food Security through Local Youth Leadership

New Mexico currently ranks 50th in the country for childhood nutrition and food security. The impacts of climate change threaten local food production. Earth Care’s AmeriCorps Food Justice project trains and engages young people to bolster sustainable farming, sustainable food, and nutrition. Earth Care focuses its efforts on neighborhoods and schools that have high rates of poverty, food insecurity, health issues, and a lack of services for youth. www.earthcarenm.org, 505.983.6896
Santa Fe Farmers Market Institute (SFFMI): Making Healthy, Local Food Affordable to Low-Income New Mexicans

Local farmers and consumers build a strong local economy and nurture the local environment. To strengthen this model, food stamp recipients at SF Farmers’ Market now scan their EBT cards at SFFMI’s information table and receive tokens to spend on any food item at the market. Funding from generous local donors allows us to double the value of the tokens, and we have already raised two-thirds of the funding needed to double token values for all of 2014. Healthy, locally grown food, generosity, support for the local environment, and a food security system—building a sustainable community. 505.983.7726, sam@farmersmarketinstitute.org





City of Santa Fe Water Conservation Office: Drought On. Water Off

Since the city implemented its “lead by example” program in 1997, Santa Feans have reduced water consumption by more than 39 percent. But now that we are in our fourth year of significant droughtand who knows what the future holdswe’re asking Santa Feans to do more: plant drought-tolerant gardens, drive unwashed cars, take short showers, install water-efficient appliances, wash only full loads of dishes and laundry. Find conservation tips and rewards for saving water at www.savewatersantafe.com, 505.955.4225, Water Waste Hotline: 505.955.4222


Gila Resources Information Project (GRIP): Appeal the Copper Rules that Allow Pollution of Groundwater

GRIP’s Responsible Mining program facilitates strong enforcement of NM’s environmental laws to protect our land, air, water, and environmental health from mining operations at three Freeport-McMoRan copper mines in Grant Co. 575.538.8078, grip@gilaresources.info, www.gilaresources.info


New Mexico Environmental Law Center: Protect Our Water from Oil and Gas Wastes

Before it was gutted by the Martínez administration in 2013, the NM Pit Rule protected communities and water in NM from contamination by oil and gas drilling wastes. Now, the revised Rule reduces the distance between waste pits and homes, schools and businesses; allows more toxic chemicals to be buried onsite; and allows for dangerous, multiacre “frack lakes” for waste from multiple wells. The Law Center has appealed the revised Rule, and the case currently is before the NM Court of Appeals. 505.989.9022, www.nmelc.org


No Crude Oil in Lamy: Preventing Crude Oil Transfers from Truck to Rail in the Heart of Lamy

Santa Fe Southern Railway has forged a deal to ship and transfer crude oil in the small town of Lamy. The dangers are immense. This small village, nestled in a quiet valley, with one road in and out, is peaceful, historic and beautiful. Plans are already underway to ship and transfer volatile, toxic, foul crude oil only 109 feet from the community well. In a July accident in Quebec, tankers carrying light crude oil derailed and killed 47 people. https://www.facebook.com/LamySaysNoToCrudeOil


Sierra Club Río Grande Chapter: Upholding NM Strong Groundwater Safeguards from a Challenge by the Dairy Industry to Weaken Them

Dairies want to use cheaper, less-protective liners on vast, untreated waste lagoons, and the Environment Department and Water Quality Control Commission have been willing to bow to industry wishes and dismantle recently passed dairy rules. Also, it is important to protect NM’s renewable energy laws from amendments proposed by industrial energy lobbyists. camilla.feibelman@sierraclub.org, 505.715.8388, www.riograndesierraclub.org





Citizens Climate Lobby: Passing Carbon Fee and Dividend Legislation

With groups in Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Las Cruces, as well as around the country and globe, we are creating the political will for a livable world. A fee-and-dividend program would place a steadily rising fee on big fossil-fuel polluters at points where the carbon enters the market: the wellhead, the coalmine, and the border. This money would then be returned to Americans to help them make lifestyle changes that are less carbon intensive. santafe@citizensclimatelobby.org,www.citizensclimatelobby.org


Climate Change Leadership Institute (CCLI): Energy and Water Conservation

CCLI’s Santa Fe Carbon Offset project helps offset the externalized cost of greenhouse gas emissions by supporting energy- and water-saving installations at low-income, trailer-home communities and plants prairie grass for land restoration and to create carbon sinks. CCLI has provided airflow testing, duct work, low-flow water heads, and carbon monoxide detectors. CCLI’s Business Climate Leadership Pledge honors NM businesses, calling for a nationwide revenue-neutral, carbon fee and dividend, so that we as a society pay the true price of energy. 505.988.3364, ccli@takeresponsibility.us, www.takeresponsibility.us


The Great March for Climate Action: Calling for Action on Climate Change

Starting in California, hundreds of marchers are retracing the steps of our pioneer ancestors in reverse, marching out of the West to Washington, D.C., to demand a redress of grievances from our political leaders who have been captured by the lobbyists of the carbon industry and have refused to act on the climate crisis that threatens our homes, livelihoods and families. The Great March enters NM in late April around Zuni Pueblo and exits in late May near Questa. Volunteers are needed to support these brave people and to march with them.



The Life Cairn Project: Raising Consciousness about Climate Change Impacts on Biodiversity

Our mission is to promote and catalyze the creation of Life Cairns as memorials to species that have become extinct due to human impacts on the environment and to sound urgent alerts about critically endangered species, cultures and island nations. The North American launch of the Life Cairn project will take place on Endangered Species Day, May 16, in Santa Fe’s Railyard Park. info@thelifecairnproject.org,www.thelifecairnproject.org, https://www.facebook.com/Thelifecairn


New Mexico Interfaith Power and Light (NMIPL): Reduce GHG Emissions, Conserve Water, Renewable Energy

NMIPL is gathering support for new EPA emissions-reductions standards for coal-fired power plants and addressing water conservation and energy production. Through our Water as Sacred Trust program, faith communities are learning about water concerns related to climate change and energy, advocating safeguarding water and cleanup where necessary while promoting cleaner renewable energy and energy efficiency. 505.266.6966, info@nm-ipl.org, www.nm.ipl.org


Western Environmental Law Center: Methane Leaking from Sloppy Oil and Gas Drilling Practices

This unnecessary waste of methane—a greenhouse gas (GHG) more damaging to the climate than carbon dioxide—from drilling on public lands alone contributes the equivalent of up to 34 coal-fired power plants’ GHG emissions. WELC is helping lead the campaign to make the use of modern, economical pollution controls mandatory for companies drilling on public lands to prevent waste and to better safeguard the climate. 575.751.0351, info@westernlaw.org, www.westernlaw.org




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