November 2015

Newsbites – November 2015


Quivira Conference: The Next Wave / Cultivating Abundance, Nov. 11-13

This year’s conference speakers include ranchers, farmers, scientists, activists and others who are leading the next wave of agrarians. The kick-off event on Nov. 11 is a workshop, Fundamentals of Soil, centered on the work of scientist Christine Jones, whose specialty is soil restoration. Keyline 101 is a workshop is in the afternoon. Leading designers will discuss techniques to address drought, and restoration guru Bill Zeedyk will talk about managing water on western rangelands and degraded wetlands. The New Agrarian Connection, a networking event for prospective employers and aspiring farmers and ranchers will take place prior to the evening’s featured speaker, renowned author and sustainable agriculture advocate Paul Hawken. His talk is open to the public for a $30 ticket.

On days two and three, 12 accomplished plenary speakers are scheduled. There will be an awards banquet Thursday evening. The conference takes place at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Albuquerque. For information, call 505.820.2544, ext. 2 or visit


New Mexico Ranks High for Energy-Efficiency
Energy is one of the main household expenses for American consumers. About half of energy bills are for heating and cooling. According to a new study, New Mexico is one of the top states in the U.S. when it comes to energy efficiency, with an overall ranking of 13th. Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the National Climatic Data Center, the U.S. Energy Information Administration and the Federal Highway Administration,’s “Most and Least Energy Efficient” list calculates the efficiency of car- and home-energy consumption. Car efficiency is calculated as annual vehicle miles driven divided by gallons of gasoline used. Home-energy efficiency is calculated as the ratio between total residential energy consumption and degree-days.

Factors in New Mexico’s high score include energy rebates from utilities and government agencies, as well as energy-efficient lighting, appliances and products such as solar panels.


Copper Rule Brief Filed With State Supreme Court
On Oct. 19, water quality advocates filed a brief with the state Supreme Court, outlining why they think the state’s Copper Mine Rule should be set aside. The brief, filed by the New Mexico Environmental Law Center (NMELC) on behalf of Gila Resources Information Project, Amigos Bravos and Turner Ranch Properties, L.P., alleges that the Rule violates the Water Quality Act because “it imposes no limit on the magnitude, extent or duration of pollution discharged by copper mines.”

A NMELC press release says that Freeport McMoRan, the world’s largest publicly-owned copper mining company, worked closely with the New Mexico Environment Department to draft the Rule, which was adopted in 2013. The NMED has argued that the regulations strike a balance between protecting water and allowing for economic development.

In 2015 the Court of Appeals upheld the state’s adoption of the Rule. The state attorney general and a former state Groundwater Bureau chief have also filed briefs with the Supreme Court requesting that the Rule be thrown out.


Environmental Justice Grants Awarded
In 1994, the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Environmental Justice established the Environmental Justice (EJ) Small Grants Program to assist community-based/grassroots organizations and tribal governments that work on local solutions to local environmental problems. In 2015, EJ grants have been awarded to Tewa Women United, based in Española, New Mexico, and The Friends of Valle de Oro, based in Albuquerque’s South Valley.

Tewa Women United was selected for a project entitled “Adapting to Climate Change: Española Edible Food Forest.” The project will educate tribal and rural communities in northern New Mexico about environmental, public health and climate change issues related to water. This will include a focus on local strategies to maintain clean water supplies by demonstrating how traditional dry-land farming techniques can be combined with contemporary strategies to improve water use efficiency. The project is a collaborative effort among local schools, organizations and government. TWU is partnering with the city of Española for an Edible Food Forest terrace garden project to demonstrate wise use of water and water harvesting and to educate the community on sustainable gardening methods.

The EJ grant to The Friends of Valle de Oro is to help support the development of an environmental and EJ strategic plan for the Southwest’s first urban wildlife refuge. A major known problem for the refuge and Mountain View neighborhood is stormwater impacts that have long plagued Albuquerque’s South Valley. The refuge will be used as part of a plan to manage stormwater under a new pilot watershed-based Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System permit and a new project of the Albuquerque Metropolitan Arroyo Flood Control Authority to install stormwater management facilities, which will include use of the refuge for end-point collection and treatment.

The funded project will include canvassing and outreach to community leaders to research baseline community understanding of the refuge, identify community needs and issues, and to identify potential negative environmental and economic impacts of the development of the refuge and formulate recommendations to minimize or eliminate such impacts.


Carbon Economy Series Hemp Workshop in Santa Fe Nov. 13, 14
Seventy-seven years of prohibition of one of humanity’s longest-utilized and most useful plants appears to be ending. Hemp is back in the soil in 26 U.S. states, including Colorado, which has now completed its third growing season. (In 2015, a bi-partisan bill passed the New Mexico Legislature but was vetoed by the governor.) The industry is growing 24 percent annually and will cross the billon-dollar mark this year in North America.
Kicking off the fifth season of the Carbon Economy Workshop series, Doug Fine, author of Hemp Bound, and First Legal Harvest: Hemp Returns to Humanity, will give a presentation on the subject on Nov. 13 from 7 to 9 pm, and a workshop the next day from 9 am to 5 pm. Both events will take place in Room 487 of Santa Fe Community College.

Fine, who has researched hemp farms and processors around the world, will explain techniques and applications that are part of an industry he considers a huge economic opportunity for New Mexico. Hemp, a drought-resistant plant, can provide energy, food, medicine, textiles and building materials, among many other things. It is a natural, fiber-based replacement for petro- and chemical plastics, GMO-based food and fossil fuel-based energy.

Admission to the Friday evening lecture is $10. The cost for the lecture with the workshop is $99. Admission is free for Santa Fe Community College students. For more information, call 469.554.9202 or visit and


Recycle Santa Fe Art Festival Nov. 20-22

The country’s oldest and largest recycled art market, the Recycle Santa Fe Art Festival, kicks off at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center on Nov. 20 with its popular Trash Fashion and Costume Contest, then continues with a market showcasing art created from discarded materials. All of the art consists of a minimum of 75 percent recycled materials—everything from vintage tin cans turned into earrings to scrap metal sculptures. There will also be adult and student juried exhibits and make-and-take art opportunities.


Many of the resourceful artists travel from across the state and country to participate, and make their living selling original pieces. They upcycle trash into treasure, combining recycling and innovation, while making one-of-a-kind art.


Friday general admission is $5. Children under 12 are free. Tickets for the Friday night recycle fashion show at 7pm are $15-20 and may be purchased ahead of time through or by calling 505.988.1234. Admission is free on Saturday and Sunday.



NM Recycling Coalition Awarded Grant to Assist Tribes
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development program awarded $40,000 to the New Mexico Recycling Coalition (NMRC) as part of the Solid Waste Management grant program. The “Tribal Recycling Program Assistance and Training” project will launch a one-year grant program in October 2015 to provide technical assistance and trainings to 20 eligible New Mexico tribes, including Taos Pueblo and Picuris Pueblo.

NMRC found that many challenges hinder how tribes are able to launch or expand their diversion programs. One challenge has been of the transition of how federal funds are able to assist tribes. Another is the rural nature of the state.

Approaches outlined in this project include providing on-site trainings, developing and sharing resources for tribes to use for self-sustaining solid-waste funding mechanisms and conducting waste audits to better understand the tribal waste stream,” said Sarah Pierpont, NMRC interim executive director.

The project will initially reach out to the targeted communities to introduce the program and offer technical assistance. One to two waste audits will be conducted to better understand the solid waste stream generated in these tribal communities.





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