Lots to share today. I can’t stress it more strongly: You need to take seriously the NM Environmental Department’s permit hearing on Nov 7. Details from Retake and TEWA within. We end the blog with a song from one of our friends, David Berkeley with an invite to a post-election celebration on Friday, Nov 16.
- First and most obviously, NMED had to be forced by the courts to even conduct a public hearing;
- Second, I dare any of you to find the public notice for the hearing on the NMED website. I needed to call Steve Pullen the program manager to have him help me wade 5 levels within the bowels of the department’s website, clicking on links that in now way were intuitive. But we found the notice, safely out of sight;
- Third, the permit itself is located in what is call the BURT, a rolling document of permits, attachments, and notices with an index of sorts. I have done a good deal of work with the Housing and Urban Development, the US Department of Education, Medicaid, and other labyrinthian bureaucracies, but NMED far exceeds them in being impenetrable. But with Steve’s help I was able to get to the right BURT page. And what did I find?
- Fourth, a cover letter that utilizes acronyms and terminology and code references that are virtually impossible to follow, followed by the permit with attachments, all 250 pages of it couched in scientific jargon that in no way invites community understanding. Click here to review a full pdf of the permit.
- Fifth, the mere time of the public hearing, scheduled for the morning after the mid-term elections at 9am, a day when quite obviously many active residents will be up late watching returns
- Sixth, the means by which one is supposed to provide public written comment is nowhere publicized and the ‘process,’ such as it is, is one of simply writing an email to the NMED program manager overseeing the process. How this will become part of the public record is beyond me.
I developed some simple speaking points to guide you in writing to NMED followed by the contact information where your comments should be sent. I would steer clear of the myriad scientific details and focus upon the process and the need to better engage the public as sustained partners in the monitoring process. Please stress that:
- The absence of scientific certainty as to the risks of harm resulting from the proposed remediation is unacceptable;
- The absence of baseline data on surface water and land where treated water is proposed to be distributed means it is utterly impossible to measure the impact of distributing 350,000 gallons of treated water daily. How do we know if the remediation is making things worse, if we don’t know the baseline.
- The withholding from the public of results of monthly testing until 15 months later when an annual report is published is simply unacceptable and again points to NMED’s intentionally keeping us in the dark. Why not post the results in a brief monthly update in lay terms so it is easily understood by non-scientists and engineers?
- The failure to include stakeholders such as the surrounding pueblos, residents, businesses, acequia associations, and environmentalists in the monitoring process speaks of a hubris that is unacceptable. The public trust was broken by the leak of contaminants that threaten our way of life. Our we trust those responsible for the leaks to manage the monitoring with integrity and candor?
Mail your comments to:
We’ve put together an Action Toolkit to help you prepare to effectively participate in the public hearing. Please share this Toolkit with anyone who is interested in this issue.
Donate to Support Refugees Worldwide. A Retake volunteer, Judy Klinger, wanted to know if there is a way to donate to members of the refugee caravan streaming northward. I poked around a bit, but the best resource I could find was the UN Refugee agency UNHCR. They offer opportunities to donate monthly or one time and they are a 501-c-3 so it is deductible. From their website:
A monthly gift to USA for UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is more than a donation. It’s a lifeline. It means the UN Refugee Agency can respond – quickly, effectively, compassionately – whenever and wherever violence erupts or disaster strikes. It means refugees rebuilding their lives can receive cash assistance, household essentials and education. And it means vulnerable children, women and men around the world will have hope for a safer future – not just today, but every day of the year.”
Become a monthly hero for refugee families everywhere: Make your gift today.
- USA for UNHCR is a non-profit 501(c)(3)
- Gifts are 100% tax-deductible
- All donations are processed securely
- As a donor, you’ll receive updates on how your gift helps families like these
- Any amount you give can help ease the suffering of those in urgent need
Click here to donate to the USA for UNHCR. Now that you are likely done with donations to your favorite candidates, maybe you can find a way to donate to this worthy cause.
New Energy Economy Wins One at the PRC
The New Mexico Public Regulation Commission voted 3-2 to grant New Energy Economy’s motion to dismiss a solar project proposed by El Paso Electric (EPE). The project would have resulted in customers paying a premium who subscribed to get their electricity from EPE’s solar project.
The 2-megawatt EPE-owned solar project was promoted to help lower-income New Mexicans gain access to solar electricity. The program, however, would charge customers a far higher rate for the electricity than a similar project recently proposed by Southwestern Public Service (“SPS”) through a contract with an independent power producer. The SPS levelized cost is $45.46/MWh versus the higher EPE levelized cost of $78.41/MWh. The levelized cost of the SPS project is 42% less than the EPE project.
Commissioners are bound by law to seek out the most cost effective option among all feasible alternatives when approving proposals. EPE discriminated against competitors that could’ve offered a better deal for New Mexicans despite their own history of buying lower cost solar from independent power producers to save ratepayers money. EPE’s request for proposals limited proposals to build an EPE owned solar array on EPE owned land. And when a for profit utility owns something, they make you pay, big time.
In their vote, the three women commissioners, Linda Lovejoy, Valerie Espinoza, and Cynthia Hall voted to uphold a fair and legal process for approving such projects. Commissioners Sandy Jones and Patrick Lyons had used the banner of “low-income” in their attempts to railroad the illegal and expensive solar project through a rushed approval process. Despite Lyons and Jones repeated efforts to convince the other commissioners that the project would help low-income New Mexicans, Commissioner Hall accurately pointed out during the meeting that “the detriment for low-income people arises when we don’t look at the best opportunities for the lowest cost possible.”
“NMPRC Commissioners Sandy Jones and Patrick Lyons disingenuously used the banner of “low-income” in their attempts to justify the illegal, and expensive solar project,” said Mariel Nanasi, Executive Director, New Energy Economy. Kudos to my good friend Mariel. She doesn’t win often in front of the PRC, a situation that will change when we elect Steve Fischmann to the PRC.
A Lovely Song, a kind of ode to all things important from David Berkeley
Categories: Climate Change, Agriculture, Land Use & Wildlife