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


Aquifer Science, LLC, is comprised of Vidler Water Co. (95% owner) and its partner, Campbell Farming Corp. (5% owner). OSE denied the application, ruling that the basin has been fully appropriated and no water remains to be allocated. The original application for 1,500afy was filed in 2011; it has been challenged ever since by local residents who are represented by the non-profit, public-interest New Mexico Environmental Law Center (NMELC).

In addition to the developers’ appeal, the judge will consider a request by NMELC (and a similar request by Bernalillo County) to throw out the case on the grounds that the applicants are trying to illegally speculate in water. In their Motion for Summary Judgment and subsequent Motion to Compel, NMELC Staff Attorney Jon Block and pro bono attorney Paul Hultin describe Vidler’s history of speculation, the shell corporations involved in the project, and the lack of a plan on the part of the developers to construct the resort/subdivision. (Under New Mexico water law, after an applicant obtains water rights, the applicant does not need to retain them for the use stated on the application – the applicant can sell them to the highest bidder.)

Background:
NMELC currently represents numerous individuals who comprise Deep Well Protest, North 14 and the San Pedro Creek Estates Homeowners Association which includes dozens of local residents whose access to water would be affected by new pumping.

NMELC and its clients won the administrative case when State Engineer Scott Verhines denied Aquifer Science’s application in November 2014. The decision prompted the developers to take the State Engineer to court. In an unusual move, current State Engineer Tom Blaine instructed his attorney to side with the water speculators in the case. (Verhines was fired by Governor Martinez in November 2014; Blaine replaced Verhines in December 2014).

New Mexico Environmental Law Center is celebrating 30 years of fighting for environmental justice for the people of New Mexico. The NMELC’s mission is to protect New Mexico’s communities and their air, land and water in the fight for environmental justice.

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Posted on 06/12/2017 • PermalinkBack to top


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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.


The decision to consider the request is baffling, given a ruling handed down last week by a Second District Court Judge that invalidates the developer’s zoning change from “rural-agricultural” to “planned community.” The Honorable Judge Nancy Franchini threw out the zoning change on the grounds that the approval process was unfair to the public and a denial of due process.

Because the now-invalidated zoning change is the foundation for the entire planning process, all of the Level A approvals for Santolina are now void.  This includes the Board’s approvals of the Level A Master Plan and the Level A Development Agreement, both of which are dependent on a valid zone map amendment.  Without valid Level A approvals in place, the County cannot proceed with Level B phase of development for Santolina.

In light of this decision, NMELC Staff Attorney Jaimie Park asked the Planning Commissioners to defer their consideration of Santolina’s water request until a valid zone map amendment and associated Level A approvals are in place.

“We obviously are disappointed that the Commission didn’t wait until there is a valid zone map amendment and associated Level A approvals in place, especially because the Court sent a very clear message to the County that its process should be fair to the public,” says Park. “We and our clients also are very concerned that—with few questions asked by the Commission and little consideration given to the concerns raised by dozens of residents at the hearing – the Planning Commissioners unanimously approved this scheme to sever land use planning from water management.” Go to case page.

IMPORTANT READS:

Did you see hydrologist Norm Gaume’s recent editorial, “Santolina’s Water Use is a Ticking Time Bomb”?

Here’s a rundown on how the invalidation of the zone change affects the Level A approval process.

Here’s one planner’s alternative vision for sustainable growth in Bernalillo County.

Posted on 06/08/2017 • PermalinkBack to top


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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.


The motion, filed with the memorandum, asks for clarification on three points:

  1. the ruling that the Board of County Commissioners denied our clients procedural due process means that both the Board’s proceeding and decision concerning the zone map amendment are void;

  2. because the approval of the zone map amendment is void, the approval of the Level A Master Plan is also void; and

  3. because the approval of the zone map amendment and the Level A Master Plan are void the development agreement also is void.  It seems to me that approaching it that way may make it easier to follow than using quotes from the memorandum.

Go to case page.

Posted on 06/06/2017 • PermalinkBack to top


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Santolina zone change rejected

“We respectfully disagree with the judge’s analysis relating to the master plan,” said Douglas Meiklejohn, the executive director and an attorney with the New Mexico Environmental Law Center. But he added that her ruling on the zone change decision is a “big victory for fairness and due process.” Albuquerque Journal

Go to Albuquerque Journal for full story.


Posted on 06/02/2017 • PermalinkBack to top


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Beer with a Barrister and Monks - June 28th

You buy the beers, we’ll supply the barristers!

Come on out to Monks’ Corner Taproom in Albuquerque for some tasty brews and enlightening conversation. Chips and guacamole will be generously donated by Maya Restaurant.

Wednesday, June 28th, starting at 6 PM
Monks’ Corner Taproom
205 Silver Ave SW
Albuquerque, NM 87102
 (map)

Monks’ Corner Taproom will donate 20% of all revenues for pints and half pints of all beers to the NMELC!

And you could win a limited edition Klean Kanteen Pint Cup!!!  Find out more.


Sign up to win!

Sign up to our email list for a chance to win a Klean Kanteen Pint Cup of your very own!

10 winners will be randomly selected at the event. Must be present to win. One entry per person.

Sign up to win!

The NMELC Klean Kanteen Pint Cup is made of food grade stainless steel, dishwasher safe and intended for cold beverages only.

The 16 oz cup comes with a recycled fleece reversible cozie, silicone pint ring and handy carabiner.

You’ll get to choose your colors.

See you there!

Posted on 06/02/2017 • PermalinkBack to top


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Santolina Foes Get Partial Court Victory

Attorney Douglas Meiklejohn, who represented Santolina opponents in the case, said he disagreed with Franchini’s decision regarding the master plan, but was happy that she struck down the zoning change.

“We respectfully disagree with the judge’s analysis as to the master plan, but we believe that the determination that our clients were denied fairness in the proceedings regarding the zoning is a major victory for fairness in these kinds of proceedings and for members of the public who want to participate in these kinds of proceedings,” Meiklejohn said. ABQ Free Press

Go to ABQ Free Press for full story.


Posted on 06/02/2017 • PermalinkBack to top


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Judge Rules 2015 Hearing on Santolina “UNFAIR”

“It’s about time someone in a position of power called out the Commissioners like De La Cruz who disrespect us, mislead us, and step over us on behalf of the developers.” Roberto Roibal, SWOP

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Today, the Honorable Judge Nancy Franchini of the New Mexico Second Judicial District Court, ruled that the Bernalillo County Commission did not grant community advocates a fair hearing when it approved the “Zone Map Amendment” (ZMA) for the proposed Santolina mega-development. The decision hinged on a pro-Santolina Op-Ed in the Albuquerque Journal that was penned by former Commissioner Art De La Cruz before a public hearing was held on the proposed development. Commissioner De La Cruz voted in the majority in a 3-2 vote to approve the ZMA and Level A Master Plan on June 16, 2015.


The Judge’s ruling (page 17) states:

Appellants were entitled to a fair and impartial tribunal on approval of the ZMA [zone map amendment] and the concurrent denial of their CPC [County Planning Commission] appeal. The Op-Ed, in the Court’s opinion, raises questions of partiality and prejudgment, or the appearance thereof, sufficient to warrant at the very least the Board’s consideration of the recusal or disqualification of Commissioner De La Cruz. Accordingly, the Court REVERSES the Decision approving the ZMA and the denial of Appellants’ appeal of the CPC’s recommendation of the ZMA to the Board. The Court REMANDS these two matters to the Board for proceedings consistent with this Opinion.

“This decision confirms that the Board of County Commissioners was required, but did not, provide our clients a fair hearing,” says Douglas Meiklejohn, New Mexico Environmental Law Center (NMELC) Executive Director and attorney. “This is a win for due process.”

“The Santolina development proceedings have been an absolute embarrassment to the County and people of Bernalillo,” says Roberto Roibal, Organizer, SouthWest Organizing Project (SWOP). “Over and over the developers present weak, incomplete plans, and they expect us to pay for it. It’s about time someone in a position of power called out the Commissioners like De La Cruz who disrespect us, mislead us, and step over us on behalf of the developers.”

Judge Franchini’s decision comes more than 18 months after community advocates, including the SouthWest Organizing Project, Pajarito Village Association and several individuals, asked the Court to overturn the Bernalillo County Commission’s Santolina Level A approvals. They are represented by the non-profit, public-interest law firm, NMELC.

Santolina is a 90,000+ person development proposed for 22 square acres of Bernalillo County on the western edge of Albuquerque. Four hearings were held by the Bernalillo County Commission in 2015, resulting in the adoption of the Level A Master Plan for the development, as well as a change to the zoning map that encompasses the Santolina property. An overwhelming number of residents who testified before the Commission asked the Commission to deny the Level A Master Plan.

New Mexico Environmental Law Center is celebrating 30 years of fighting for environmental justice for the people of New Mexico. The NMELC’s mission is to protect New Mexico’s communities and their air, land and water in the fight for environmental justice.

INTERVIEWS AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST
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Posted on 06/01/2017 • PermalinkBack to top


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Making the case for making the case

NMELC defends public participation before Court of Appeals

Does the Secretary of the Environment Department have discretion over whether or not to grant a hearing on draft groundwater discharge permits if requested by members of the public? This question is at the heart of our case before the New Mexico Court of Appeals.

Representing Communities for Clean Water, Staff Attorney Jaimie Park presented oral argument on May 16 to a three judge panel in Albuquerque. She faced attorneys from the New Mexico Water Quality Commission (WQCC), the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED), and Los Alamos National Security, LLC. It was an animated hearing, with all three judges peppering both sides with questions.

So where did this appeal come from? In 2015, Communities for Clean Water requested a public hearing on a discharge permit that allows Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) to spray up to 350,000 gallons/day of treated groundwater from a chromium plume.

The request was denied by NMED Secretary Ryan Flynn.


Without a public hearing, our clients had no opportunity to provide expert testimony or cross examine agency witnesses about the technical aspects of the permit or how the agencies propose to protect those who live downstream and downwind of the project.

Beyond this permit, Mr. Flynn’s decision set a dangerous precedent for how an Environment Department secretary – particularly one appointed by a pro-industry governor – can dodge his agency’s legal requirements to provide meaningful opportunities for public participation in these momentous decisions.

The Court will make its ruling in the future. We will be sure to let you know what happens.

Because of the generosity of our members, the Law Center is able to provide free legal representation to Communities for Clean Water, or “CCW”. CCW is a coalition of groups, including Amigos Bravos, Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety, Honor Our Pueblo Existence, the New Mexico Acequia Association, Partnership for Earth Spirituality and Tewa Women United that are working to safeguard community waters affected by contamination by LANL.

Posted on 06/01/2017 • PermalinkBack to top


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Santolina Developer makes most outrageous request yet

Mega-development asks County to strip water requirements from planning process

On June 7, the Bernalillo County Planning Commission will entertain a request by the Santolina developers to retroactively strip all water requirements pertaining to the proposed development.

Bernalillo County Planning Commission meeting re: Santolina water reqs.
Wednesday June 7 @ 9am
Vincent Griego Chambers

Burqueños and Bernalillo County residents – you and your neighbors can make a difference here! Santolina’s developers are hoping you won’t show…but public outcry could be what turns the tide on this awful proposal.

Can’t make it on Wednesday? Contact Enrico Gradi, Board Liaison at (505) 314-0385 and let him know that you want Santolina held to the water requirements required by the Board’s approval of its Level A Master Plan!

Click here for more info and to sign up to speak at the meeting.


As people who recognize the problems of unfettered growth in an arid state, we and our clients are fighting this proposal tooth and nail. The conditions that Santolina seeks to strip include mandates that the developer prove that it has wet water and water rights for its project, and that it has a signed development agreement with the Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority in place before it can obtain its Level B approvals. Approving the project without this information “…could severely constrain [the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority’s] ability to provide water to existing customers and meet its considerable commitments for future water supply,” according to hydrologist and former Water Resources Manager for the City of Albuquerque Norm Guame.

If you’ve been following the Santolina process, you know that Bernalillo County made some unfathomable concessions to the developers that seek approval for this proposed 90,000-person city. Led by Commissioner Art De La Cruz, who penned an op-ed in favor of the development before the hearing even began (we sued over this bias), three members of the Commission disregarded the County’s own Planned Communities Criteria and approved the Level A Master Plan and zoning changes in 2015. As part of that approval, however, they required the developers to meet the above mentioned conditions before Santolina could get its Level B Master Plan approved.

To this day, we do not know why the Bernalillo County Commission would approve such a reckless strategy without water or money in place. Now the developer is asking the Commission to double down on this strategy – despite the fact that the developer has failed, after two years, to obtain the required water agreement. With your help, we will not stop challenging this project and its flawed process.

Posted on 06/01/2017 • PermalinkBack to top


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County And Opposition Seek To End Court Battle Over Campbell Ranch Water Supply

Aquifer Science drilled two wells, one nearly 4,000 feet deep, but did not hit either the quantity or quality of water needed for the development. The Master Plan estimates a need of 1,500 acre-feet a year.

That application was protested by close to 300 people; that opposition coalesced into Deep Well Protest, which hired the N.M. Environmental Law Center. Meanwhile, Bernalillo County protested the application, in part because the county had been denied an application of 30 acre-feet when it put in baseball fields near Vista Grande Community Center, on property very near the master-planned project. That was in 2013. The Independent

Go to The Independent full story.


Posted on 05/19/2017 • PermalinkBack to top


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Welcome to the new way a developer tries to game the system

Santolina developers try to disconnect land use from water

In the 1990s, Bernalillo County adopted an ordinance that lays out very specific requirements for developers seeking to build master-planned communities. Key among them are rules that developers must show that they have both “wet” water and water rights for their projects.

It just makes sense that massive proposed developments like Santolina (which promises housing for 90,000 people and industry for 75,000 jobs) should have to demonstrate that they have adequate amounts water for these new communities.

But guess what…


Rather than demonstrate that it has water (which it doesn’t), the developer is attempting to strike the water requirements from the Level A Master Plan. It has asked the Bernalillo County Planning Commission for a hearing on this request.

Santolina developers failed to abide by these requirements during the Level A Master Plan phase (a centerpiece of our appeals of that process). Rather than dismiss their application, County Commissioners built specific requirements into the Level A Master Plan to ensure that Western Albuquerque Land Holdings (WALH) would meet the requirements during the Level B process. Read Response in Opposition

You can be sure that we are making every effort to stop both this ill-advised development, and the scheme to decouple land use from water – a scheme that would be catastrophic for New Mexicans for generations to come. We think that this hearing will be held on June 7, but the County is only required to give the public 72 hours’ notice of agendas, so we’ll let you know as soon as we hear!

Posted on 05/09/2017 • PermalinkBack to top


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Taking on a Global Problem …right here in New Mexico

Water speculators meet stiff resistance from the Law Center

Multinational corporations are working across the world to speculate in and privatize water supplies; despite strong laws and policies preventing speculation in New Mexico, water rights developers are eying our aquifers with a focus on profit.

But they’re having a tough time succeeding with the Law Center in their way.

Case in point: last month, Staff Attorney Jon Block and volunteer attorney Paul Hultin asked a state District Court to throw out a water grab case in the East Mountains of Albuquerque.


Aquifer Science, LLC, seeks hundreds of acre-feet of water for a dubious luxury development in the East Mountains; it filed the case after the State Engineer denied its application for water on the grounds that there is no water left in the basin to be appropriated. In response to our Motion for Summary Judgment, the company hastily took the odd step of asking the Court to allow it to amend its application to address fatal problems brought to light by our legal team; we have opposed that move on the grounds that it is strictly disallowed by the appellate process. Visit case page.

If you want to see how water rights developers are attempting to wriggle their way into our state using shell corporations and creative planning, it’s a good read. You can find it here.

 

Posted on 05/09/2017 • PermalinkBack to top


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Residents Expand Fight Against Water Speculation in East Mountains

SANTA FE, N.M. – Residents of the communities in the East Mountains of Albuquerque, NM, have asked a judge to compel disclosure of the attorneys’ fees and costs of Aquifer Science, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of water development company PICO Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ: PICO) that seeks to obtain water rights in the East Mountains.

The non-profit New Mexico Environmental Law Center (NMELC) filed the motion for its clients—Deep Well Protest, San Pedro Creek Estates, and North 14—asserting that the fees and costs highlight the fact that PICO and its shell companies Vidler New Mexico and Campbell Farming Corporation (the owners of Aquifer Science) are merely water speculators with no real plan to put the water to beneficial use.

Go to case page.


“Given the crucial importance of water here in New Mexico, unmasking water speculation is an important thing to do,” said Jon Block, NMELC Staff Attorney. “The application in this case is merely an attempt by out-of-state speculators to use Aquifer Science LLC to secure New Mexico’s water for their speculative purposes to make profits for the company’s shareholders,” said Block, adding that, “under New Mexico law water speculation is illegal because it substitutes the intent to profit off of holding onto water rights for putting water to beneficial use.”

Aquifer Science, LLC filed the appeal to state District Court in 2014, after it lost its bid to appropriate 717 acre-feet of water in the Sandia Basin.  The New Mexico State Engineer denied Aquifer Science’s application on the grounds that there is no unappropriated water available to satisfy the application. At that time, NMELC and volunteer Attorney Paul Hultin, Bernalillo County and dozens of self-represented protestants persuaded the State Engineer to reject the 2012 application.

PICO Holdings, Inc. is a California-based investment holding company and water development corporation that owns Vidler Water Company, which has water holdings in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico. Vidler Water Co. owns Vidler New Mexico, LLC, which owns 95% of Aquifer Science, and has no employees.

Campbell Farming Corporation is a 5% partner in Aquifer Science, and owns the Campbell Ranch property. Campbell Farming Corp. no longer has an office or operations in New Mexico.

New Mexico Environmental Law Center is celebrating 30 years of fighting for environmental justice for the people of New Mexico.  It is working to prevent water speculation in the Sandia Basin and in the San Augustin Plains. The NMELC’s mission is to protect New Mexico’s communities and their air, land and water in the fight for environmental justice.

INTERVIEWS AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST

Posted on 04/18/2017 • PermalinkBack to top


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Residents Fight Water Speculation in East Mountains

“Water is life, especially here in the high desert country, and allowing water speculators to grab our precious resources is something we all must work hard to prevent.” Jonathan Block, NMELC

SANTA FE, N.M. – Residents of the communities in the East Mountains of Albuquerque, NM, have asked a judge to throw out an appeal filed by Aquifer Science, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of water development company PICO Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ: PICO) that seeks to obtain water rights in the East Mountains.

A motion for summary judgment filed by the non-profit New Mexico Environmental Law Center (NMELC) for its clients—Deep Well Protest, San Pedro Creek Estates, and North 14—asserts that the application should be thrown out on the grounds that PICO and its shell companies Vidler New Mexico and Campbell Farming Corporation (the owners of Aquifer Science) are merely water speculators with no real a plan to put the water to beneficial use.


“The undisputed facts and law demonstrate that the application is merely the attempt by out-of-state speculators to use Aquifer Science LLC to secure New Mexico’s water for their speculative purposes to make profits for the company’s shareholders,” says Jon Block, NMELC Staff Attorney. Under New Mexico law, water speculation is illegal.

The Motion also asks Second Judicial District C. Shannon Bacon to deny Aquifer Science’s appeal based on the fact that the application (which is based upon a Master Plan from 2002) seeks more than 100 acre-feet of water for a segment of the development that is not in the approved Master Plan.

“Water is life, especially here in the high desert country, and allowing water speculators to grab our precious resources is something we all must work hard to prevent,” says Block.

Aquifer Science, LLC filed the appeal to state District Court in 2014, after it lost its bid to appropriate 717 acre-feet of water in the Sandia Basin.  The New Mexico State Engineer denied Aquifer Science’s application on the grounds that there is no unappropriated water available to satisfy the application. At that time, NMELC and volunteer Attorney Paul Hultin, Bernalillo County and dozens of self-represented protestants persuaded the State Engineer to reject the 2012 application.

PICO Holdings, Inc. is a California-based investment holding company and water development corporation that owns Vidler Water Company, which has water holdings in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico. Vidler Water Co. owns Vidler New Mexico, LLC, which owns 95% of Aquifer Science, and has no employees.

Campbell Farming Corporation is a 5% partner in Aquifer Science, and owns the Campbell Ranch property. Campbell Farming Corp. no longer has an office or operations in New Mexico.

New Mexico Environmental Law Center is celebrating 30 years of fighting for environmental justice for the people of New Mexico.  It is working to prevent water speculation in the Sandia Basin and in the San Augustin Plains. The NMELC’s mission is to protect New Mexico’s communities and their air, land and water in the fight for environmental justice.

INTERVIEWS AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST

Posted on 04/18/2017 • PermalinkBack to top


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Albuquerque Air Quality Board Upholds Polluting Permit

…should the Air Quality Act be interpreted in order to protect the people who live around these facilities or should the act be interpreted as a way to issue air pollution permits as quickly as possible?” Eric Jantz, Staff Attorney

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Yesterday, the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Air Quality Board unanimously voted to deny an appeal of an air pollution permit issued to Honstein Oil & Distributing, LLC. The Honstein facility is located near homes in the San Jose neighborhood in the South Valley of Albuquerque and holds a 6,000 gallon gasoline storage tank. The facility is one of many polluting facilities found in the South Valley, a community recognized by the US EPA as an “Environmental Justice community”.

The appeal was brought by the public-interest law firm New Mexico Environmental Law Center (NMELC) for Southwest Organizing Project (SWOP) and San Jose residents Esther and Steven Abeyta. The appeal stated the Air Quality Board had failed to assess actual, cumulative air pollution impacts upon the people who live in San Jose neighborhood when it granted the air pollution permit. It also failed to uphold its mandate under the New Mexico Air Quality Control Act to “prevent or abate air pollution.”


Cumulative Impacts explained

“The heart of the matter is whether the Air Quality Control Act should be interpreted to protect the people who live around these facilities, or should the Act be interpreted in a way to issue air pollution permits as quickly as possible,” says Eric Jantz, NMELC Staff Attorney. “We and our clients believe it should be interpreted to protect public health. Based on tonight’s decision, the Air Quality Board believes otherwise.”

“Even with their track record of ignoring environmental justice communities, today’s decision by the Air Quality Board is truly shameful,” says Juan Reynosa, SWOP Environmental Justice Organizer. “Once again, every party at the table agrees that there is an air quality problem in San Jose, but nobody in a position of power is willing to do anything about it. It makes us wonder what is the point of the Air Quality Board and Environmental Health Department in the first place.”

The Environmental Health Division (EHD) granted Honstein’s permit application in June 2014. The permit allows the plant to emit 2.26 tons of volatile organic compounds per year. The EHD granted the permit without considering whether Honstein’s air emissions, either alone or in combination with emissions from other pollution sources, would pose a reasonable risk to public health.

“This community carries a disproportionate burden of polluting industries and has carried that burden for years,” says Jantz. “The EHD approval of this permit fails to take into account the host of other industries pumping pollution into the air over this predominately Latino community. It sends a message to the residents of San Jose that their lives don’t matter as much as those in non-minority and more affluent neighborhoods.”

“The resources spent on these hearings, attorneys and experts, could have just as easily been spent on air monitoring in the very communities they’re fighting against” says Reynosa. “Results like today are why the community can not in good faith attempt to negotiate solutions with the City government and Air Quality Board.”

NMELC and its clients will consider next steps.

Visit NMELC Honstein case page.

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Posted on 04/13/2017 • PermalinkBack to top


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