For years, the Law Center our clients and others have fought a practice by the City of Albuquerque and Bernalillo County to permit air polluting facilities—asphalt batch plants, concrete bagging plants, petrochemical facilities—in low-income neighborhoods of color.
And when we say fight, we mean it: decision-makers refuse even to admit that air quality problems exist in neighborhoods like San Jose, which is home to 1% of the County’s population but a whopping 28% of its air pollution permits.
With your support, Staff Attorneys Eric Jantz and Jon Block spent three days in January representing the SouthWest Organizing Project (SWOP) and San Jose residents Esther and Steven Abeyta in a hearing on the Honstein bulk fuel facility. We don’t have a ruling yet, but we have a fascinating synopsis of the hearing from Esther, along with tweets from SWOP’s hearing correspondent (many of which called out bad behavior on the part of regulators…and at least one cameo tweet featuring comedian Dave Chappelle…)
Key to our case is this point: under the Air Quality Control Act, EHD is required to take into account “cumulative impacts” from multiple sources of air pollution in a neighborhood when determining if a new facility or expansion would exceed air quality standards. EHD denies that it is required to do so, and even denies that there is poor air quality in these neighborhoods, despite significant anecdotal evidence and data from citizen air sampling.
SWOP streamed the hearing on their Facebook page, and its staff tweeted their impressions of the hearing. We will soon submit closing arguments.