Red Nation Fracking Action Today in Sandoval County & Another Win at City Hall

Things happen fast lately. Today’s blog reports on a Red Nation rally today to protest opening virtually unrestricted fracking in Sandoval County and after testimony and a barrage of pressure, the Mayor withdrew his resolution to partner with PNM. On the other hand, the City files its RCV appeal with the Supreme Court.

Today’s blog includes a quick report on the City Council meeting last night and then a more detailed report on today’s Sandoval County action against fracking.  There is so much I need to find out from City Councilors that I hesitate to comment very much today about last night’s City Council meeting.

Highlights From the New Mexican RCV, PNM and Disclosure: This morning’s New Mexican reported details on the City Council meeting last night. In one short article, we learn:

  • The City has withdrawn a resolution to change its disclosure law and will defend itself against the libertarian Rio Grande Foundation (Retake aligned with Common Cause to pressure the City to take this step); Kudos to the City.
  • The Mayor withdrew his resolution seeking a partnership with PNM indicating that it would be amended and reconsidered in January (also under pressure from the community, this time led by New Energy Economy and Retake). Here I want to find out more about the proposed amendments in hopes I find a directive to conduct a competitive bidding process….this resolution should not even include PNM in it if it is to be a truly open process.  Details to follow in a future blog.
  • The Mayor asked to withdraw his resolution to create an ordinance to allow for a run-off election if RCV does not result in a 50%+1 winner, but all eight City Councilors opposed this effort (this is something I really need to explore);
  • Despite heavy pressure from FairVoteNM, Retake, Earth Care, Retake and other community groups opposing the appeal, the City has submitted its brief to the Supreme Court appealing the District Court order to proceed with RCV and from what I could tell, they threw ever conceivable argument they could muster, much of which makes the City look very bad:
    • If the City thought the RCV was unconstitutional why did it wait 10 years to find out?
    • If the City feels RCV is so complex to implement, why didn’t it begin preparation years ago so it would be ready when the equipment and software were ready?
    • If the City was so concerned that the software developer was having challenges meeting its deadline (a deadline it met), why did it vote no to proceed with planning on the condition that the software was ready?

From the New Mexican:  “The appeal filed Tuesday, however, is not just a request for advice but a last-minute, unreserved push for the court to stop the process altogether. The case underscores the confusing nature of preparations for a fast-approaching municipal election.”  I will comment more on this once I find out more of what the thinking is on these tangled threads. To read the New Mexican report, click here

While I am disappointed with the City’s moving forward with their appeal, it is important to note that in many ways the City has been very responsive to our/your/our partner’s pressure in the past two weeks: They have voted to advance RCV (while appealing); they have pulled their resolution to gut their campaign disclosure law, and they have pulled the resolution to partner with PNM to craft our solar future. Take a moment to pat yourself on the back if you made calls, sent emails or attended recent City Council meetings. They know we are paying attention and increasingly they are listening. Now we need to put pressure on neighboring Sandoval County. Read on.

Rally Against Fracking. Sandoval County Administration, 1500 Idalia Rd NE, Bernalillo, New Mexico 87004. 3pm Thursday, Dec 14. Hearing to follow at 6pm with Red Nation encouraging arrival by 4:30. It is 100% my fault for this not being posted days ago. I missed it.

This is nothing more than capitalist colonization of sacred land with wanton disregard for the planet and an especially egregious disregard for the 10 native pueblos that exist in Sandoval County. The Stoddard Ordinance being proposed would provide protection for “more populous areas,” i.e.Rio Rancho where the important people live (i.e. 67% Anglo) and zero protection for ‘rural’ communities, i.e. pueblo land. The decision will be made by a five person Commission that looks as much like New Mexico as a palm tree, i.e. five white, suit & tie males. At the last meeting Chairman Chapman actually said this: “If we were really doing something wrong here, there would be thousands of people concerned, there’s only a couple hundred of you.” Did it occur to him that those hundreds represent thousands of others who are poor, have families, need to work for a living, and are a very long drive away. Those hundreds who do appear apparently are of much less value than the five or six likely all male, all white, well-tailored oil and gas execs who don’t wait for hours to testify. They do it over lunch, at their convenience while being paid hundreds of dollars an hour.   Click here for details on the rally.

It is a 50-minute drive to Bernalillo. It is late notice. But we, yes we, can not continue to despoil Native rights, land and culture. And we need to stand with our Native allies. Time to get in the car and make the effort. This is not just vital for our Native allies but for the integrity of what we, as a people, are purported to stand for: Justice.  A summary follows borrowing first from Red Nation’s Facebook page and then from a Sierra Club brief. At the bottom of the blog is contact info for the Commissioners. Call/email them. You may not be their constituent, although you needn’t share that, but this is not a “local” issue about Sandoval County, it is a moral issue that impacts all of us.

From Red Nation Facebook Page

“CALL TO ACTION! #ProtectChacoCanyon #StandWithBearsEars#ProtectTheSacred

In wake of the reduction of #BearsEars and the staircase- Escalente monuments, it is apparent that our current administration will not respect Tribal sovereignty and consent. Attacks on sacred spaces in the Southwest are not new, Native lands have long been targeted by extractivist companies for the gas and oil deposits they sit on.

In the greater Chaco region, Dine families are impacted heavily by fracking. Extraction projects result in an influx of violence against Women due to the presence of man camps, and environmental hazards including poor air and water quality remain long term heath risks.

The numerous sacred sites among the greater Chaco landscape have significance to many tribes throughout the Southwest, Pueblo people consider the Chaco landscape holy ancestral territory.

It is urgent that we continue to mobilize to protect the sacred! Join The Red Nation, Pueblo Action Alliance, and Dine/ Pueblo Solidarity to demand a moratorium on Fracking in the greater Chaco landscape.Demand that the Sandoval county Stoddard ordinance be tabled pending environmental impact statements and Tribal consent. Demand the recognition of Tribal sovereignty and ancestral territory!”

Sierra Club Details on the Ordinance and County Disregard for Native and Community Input

“Sandoval County is in the process of amending its comprehensive zoning ordinance to deal with oil and gas extraction. This all started in November 2015 when SandRidge Energy Inc., an Oklahoma-based oil and gas company, applied for a special-use permit to drill near Rio Rancho city limits. Citizen groups pushed back and exposed Sandoval County’s lack of ordinances to protect water, roads, cultural resources, property values, or health against oil and gas extraction. Below are the steps that have led to today.

Update 9/26/2017 – The County Commission has voted 4 – 1 to publish and post the current Stoddard ordinance that lacks minimal safeguards to protect public health, water, and the environment from the impacts of oil and gas drilling. The commission favors oil and gas interests over public health and safety. A “Citizens Ordinance” that laid out well-balanced, common-sense protections for county residents was not even considered by the commission. The citizen’s ordinance is based on proven components from other successful ordinances, as well as elements from various Sandoval County drafts. 

Update 11/21/2017 – The County Commission have pushed the final vote for adopting the Stoddard ordinance to January 2018. One amendment would allow for permits to be processed under Conditional Use, meaning the public will be notified and a hearing held when drilling permits are applied for, but only for more populated community districts in the county. Communities deemed to be in less populated, rural areas would retain the Permissive Use provision, meaning no public notification, a hearing or input, thus dividing the county.

The Stoddard ordinance has serious flaws

Image may contain: sky and outdoorThe Stoddard ordinance calls for drilling permits to be administered through permissive-use instead of special-use. This means that Planning and Zoning Director Mike Springfield will have sole authority to process and approve drilling permits, eliminating the need for a public hearing or input. Permits will simply be qualified by a checklist, then approved within 10 days. This ordinance also allows for operational noise at higher levels than federal requirements, does not require water monitoring, imposes meager penalties on companies for violating laws, and allows for wells to be drilled within 750 feet of schools, churches, hospitals, and houses.

Read more: what key provisions should be included in this oil and gas ordinance?

Read more: key differences between the Citizen’s ordinance and the Stoddard ordinance

Below you will find contact info for the five white males in suits who are the commissioners who will decide this issue. Please call them, email them, and let them know that their decision has an impact on far more than Sandoval County.  Reach out to your representatives and be there at 3pm today, December 14th.  Click here for details on the rally. Click here for details on the hearing at 6pm today.

Commissioner James F. Holden Rhodes – District 1
505.235.5628
Jholden-rhodes@sandovalcountynm.gov

Commissioner Jay C. Block – District 2
505.252.6218
Jblock@sandovalcountynm.gov

Commissioner Don Chapman – District 3
505.414.6247
Dchapman@sandovalcountynm.gov

Commissioner David Heil – District 4
505.252.6085
Dheil@sandovalcountynm.gov

Commissioner Ken Eichwald
District 5
505.252.7412
Keichwald@sandovalcountynm.gov

In solidarity,

Paul & Roxanne

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