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Is a healthy environment a human right? Testing the idea in Appalachia

Do we have a fundamental right to breathe clean air, drink clean water and eat safe food? The idea of environmental human rights is receiving growing attention worldwide, driven by our global ecological crisis. But the United States has lagged behind in codifying these rights into laws and in successfully furthering them.

While this may seem like an issue for legal scholars, it has very real importance for regions like Appalachia, where I work. Coal mining has caused widespread ecological and health damage here for more than a century, alongside other industries such as chemical manufacturing and, recently, natural gas production. Phys.Org

Go to Phys.Org for full story.

07/14/2017 • Back to top


Public-Interest Law Firm to Bolster Enviro Health for Vulnerable NM Families

SANTA FE, N.M. – The New Mexico Environmental Law Center (NMELC), a Santa Fe-based non-profit law firm, has been awarded a two-year, $300,000 grant towards Healthy Environment, Healthy Families. The project uses public-interest law to safeguard public health and the well-being of New Mexico’s under served families.

The grant was made by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation of Battle Creek, Michigan.

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06/29/2017 • Back to top


Santolina’s Request to Strip Water Requirements Challenged

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Today community groups and residents of the South Valley appealed a decision from the Bernalillo County Planning Commission in the Santolina mega-development case. The Planning Commission recommends stripping key provisions that require the Santolina developers to prove that its project has water. The appeal was filed with the Bernalillo County Commission (BCC), which is tentatively slated to take up the issue in August.

The appeal addresses a request by developers to remove three critical water conditions from the BCC’s approval of Santolina’s Level A Master Plan. Two years after these conditions were put into place, however, Santolina still has no Agreement with the Water Authority.

Amended Appeal Part 1  |  Amended Appeal Part 2

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06/23/2017 • Back to top


East Mountain Residents Battle Water Speculator in Court

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Oral arguments will be held tomorrow in the Aquifer Science water grab case. Residents are challenging developers’ attempts to resuscitate a failed water appropriation in a thinly veiled water speculation attempt. This case is an appeal of the 2014 decision by the Office of the State Engineer (OSE) denying Aquifer Science’s application for 717 acre-feet of water/year (afy) for a purported luxury development in the East Mountains.

Tuesday, June 13 at 1:30
Courtroom of Judge C. Shannon Bacon
2nd Judicial District, 400 Lomas Blvd, Albuquerque
*Cellphones not allowed in the courthouse

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06/12/2017 • Back to top


Bernalillo County Planning Commission Ignores Water Requirements

The Bernalillo County Planning Commission voted on Wednesday (June 7) to recommend approval of the Santolina’s request to strip water requirements from its Level B approvals. Developer, Western Albuquerque Land Holdings (WALH) has asked the County to disregard mandatory water requirements in its approval process because it does not yet have a necessary water agreement with the Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority.

At Wednesday’s Planning Commission meeting, commissioners considered WALH’s formal request to remove conditions that require it to prove that the development has water before it can obtain its Level B approvals. The Planning Commission’s recommendation now goes to the Bernalillo County Commission.

NMELC, its clients and allies vow to continue the fight against this ill-advised mega-development.

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06/08/2017 • Back to top


NMELC asks for clarification on Santolina Judgement

Our clients (including SouthWest Organizing Project and Pajarito Village Association) won an important victory on June 2 when state District Court Judge Nancy Franchini ruled that the 2015 Santolina approval process was flawed.

Judge Franchini’s decision reverses and remands the Bernalillo County Commission’s (BCC’s) approval of the project’s “Zone Map Amendment,” which changed the zoning for the developer’s site from “A-1 Rural-Agricultural” to “Planned Community”. This step was required before any other approval steps could be taken by the BCC.

On Tuesday, June 6, attorneys for the Law Center submitted a memorandum asking the Judge to clarify her decision.

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06/06/2017 • Back to top


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