Affordable Housing Action, Plus A Stunning Produced Water Revelation

A summary of international good news, cuz we need it, an action on “affordable housing,” and new information on what may be lurking behind the incomprehensible “produced water” initiative.

Just a few brief announcements before we look behind the curtain to explore what may be at stake in the state and industry partnership around the reuse of the toxic cocktail misleadingly called “produced water.”

The Pen is Mightier than the Sword

Today, as part of our weekly effort to get more of you to write to your local newspaper, we offer a single and very easy writing prompt. In the last few weeks, Retake has written extensively on our state’s energy policy, a policy that is allowing for produced water reuse and unrestricted fracking in the Permian Basin. You don’t even have to write 150 words, which is the typical limit to a Letter to the Editor, not the required number of words. But we need to begin to flood the media with concern about how under Democratic Party leadership in the Governor’s office, the State House, and Senate, we are behaving like unrepentant Republicans, drilling to disaster. We were told by the Editorial Director for the New Mexican that they publish all LTEs submitted, so let’s make sure we are reading about these issues next week. Write on.

Retake Our Democracy on KSFR 101.1 FM, Saturday, November 9, 8:30am– 9 am, TODAY, I interview Rebecca Sobel, Senior Climate and Energy Campaigner for Wild Earth Guardians, one of Retake’s closest allies. We discuss a wide variety of topics related to NM’s contribution to global warming, the Governor’s energy policies, and the produced water issue. In relation to the latter, Rebecca offers new insights into what may be in play with NM’s plan to treat and reuse highly toxic fracking byproducts that industry wants you to accept as “water,” produced or otherwise. Great, great show that goes well over the 30 minutes, so be sure to check out the podcast when it is posted on Monday. The Nov 2 show was with Daniel Tso and Mario Atencio. They are the two activists who led our fracking tour of the greater Chaco Canyon area. Also a very good show and worth hunting down on podcast at Go to the programs menu, then to podcasts, then scroll to Retake Our Democracy.

Some Good News, Cuz We Can Sure Use It

This list of good news was sent to me by Larry Giannini, an advocate down in Las Cruces who posts periodically. I believe its source is a New Zealand blogger who posts a list of good news once a week. There is actually some very good news below, and since it is easy to feel overwhelmed by the bad news, I thought sharing a bit of good news might be a nice way to kick off the weekend. The item following the list is something I dug up myself, as I’d been tracking the Seattle City Council election closely….read and smile.

  • The largest private coal company in the United States has gone bankrupt, the fourth major fossil fuels company to go under this year. #MAGA. Bloomberg
  • The Australian electricity grid reached a new milestone this week –  for a few minutes, solar, wind and hydro met more than 50% of demand. Guardian
  • According to the World Bank, India has halved its poverty rate in the past 30 years, and zero extreme poverty in the next decade is now within reach. 
  • Type 3 polio has officially become the second species of poliovirus to be eliminated. Only Type 1 now remains – and only in Pakistan and Afghanistan. STAT
  • In the biggest breakthrough for cystic fibrosis in decades, a new drug that targets the genetic roots of the disease has been approved by the FDA. WaPo
  • Between 1990 and 2019, cancer mortality rates fell by 18% in Argentina, 26% in Chile, 14% in Colombia, 17% in Mexico and 13% in Venezuela, corresponding to almost 500,000 avoided deaths. Int J Cancer
  • The murder rate in India has dropped to its lowest level in 54 years. Traditional theories of criminal justice are at a loss to explain why. Times of India
  • Toxic air pollution in London has fallen by roughly a third inside a new ultra low emissions zone that was launched 6 months ago. NPR
  • After an 18-year campaign, environmental campaigners have successfully saved one of the most important wetland areas in the Balkans from development. MongaBay
  • In a watershed moment for environmentalists and community activists, fracking has been halted in the United Kingdom with immediate effect. BBC

More Good News

Kshama Sawant, socialist City Council member from Seattle, had been targeted by Amazon and the Seattle Chamber of Commerce in her campaign to be re-elected to the city council. Indeed, Amazon and the Chamber joined forces on all seven of the City Council seats up for re-election. On Wednesday morning, progressives had won four of the seven races, but Sawant appeared to be trailing significantly…..until this morning. With each day, Sawant had narrowed the gap as more and more absentee votes and mail in votes were counted. This morning Sawant surged past Amazon’s candidate. To commemorate this moment, I am asking all of you to please find other ways to send gifts to friends and family this year: Boycott Amazon! Bezos has enough of our money.

Tierra Contenta

More Gentrification, or an Opportunity to Develop Affordable Housing BY and FOR the People?

Community Input Session, Saturday, Nov. 9 – 1:00-2:00 p.m. or 2:00-3:00 p.m, Southside Library, 6599 Jaguar Dr., Santa Fe

The City’s midtown development process never engaged the impacted community, holding meetings mostly during the work day, with those meetings packed with the usual suspects. Then when the City recognized that the process had not been inclusive, they hired a Philadelphia firm to do more outreach.

Now the Housing Trust is conducting another community engagement process around the next phase of the massive Tierra Contenta housing development in south Santa Fe. Well, there is good news and bad news. The outreach effort conducted a survey of southside residents as to what they would like to see featured in the development….in English only, a tone-deaf effort that suggests that the City doesn’t have a monopoly on culturally biased outreach.

But the good news is that the series of community input sessions in the first round did lead to some shifts resulting from community input. Apparently there will be a public school in the heart of the development, along with a Chavez-style community center and a park. Previously, the development plan had not included the center, the school, or the plan for a full-scale park, just “parklets.”

But this is a massive development and, as such, represents a huge opportunity, and advocates have been asking that space be devoted to a small number of small business to serve the community and employ local residents. They also would like to see the housing development prioritize some of the housing to those who are being displaced from south side mobile home sites that are being purchased by out-of-state developers with an eye on redeveloping the sites and forcing out residents of these low-income housing sites.

There is an opportunity to create a community with a mix of housing and commercial activity to make that community much more self-sustaining with a market, food stand, community garden, taqueria, and other amenities that would reduce the need for residents to jump in their car or take the bus to shop. It would also provide employment within the community. We are asking developers to commit to prioritizing displaced families and individuals and to alter the design to include a modest amount of commercial sites, much as is being proposed for the midtown project. And today is an opportunity to tell the developers just that. So if you’re a Southside resident, please take a few minutes and head over to the Southside Library at 1pm or 2pm and raise your voice.

NM Oil & Gas & Our Governor: A Profit Partnership on All Fronts


When it comes to policy, President Donald Trump and Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham are as far apart as Farmington and Hobbs. When it comes to the amazing things happening here in New Mexico, the two leaders are singing from the same sheet of music. In recent weeks, both Trump and Lujan Grisham have sung the praises of the soaring production of oil and gas in the Permian and San Juan basin.”

New Mexico Oil & Gas Association, October Monthly Update

The NMOGA newsletter isn’t overstating the Governor’s thirst for black crude. In a recent interview she said that if Trump loses next year’s election, she would request the Democratic president provide New Mexico a waiver exempting it from any drilling ban “to allow us to continue to produce in New Mexico.”  So, when we finally get a President who understands the urgency of the climate catastrophe, our Governor will seek a waiver so that we can continue to destroy the planet. At least she is being clear.

Produced Water Storage Ponds. Thirsty?

In today’s KSFR radio interview with Rebecca Sobel, we discuss the NMOGA newsletter, MLG’s comments about seeking an exemption to any possible fracking ban a new president might establish by executive order, and the ongoing hearings on “produced water.” Rebecca had an interesting thought on what could be behind the seemingly incomprehensible effort to reuse produced water.

First, she bridled at even using the term “water,” a subtle move made by the industry to convey that what was being “produced” was in fact water instead of the toxic cocktail that it is. Sobel went on to discuss how the industry was getting into a bind in relation to its use of water, as she asserted that the fracking process can use up to eight times as much water as oil produced. In a drought-prone state, that is not an equation that is sustainable, even with a gas and oil friendly state administration.

But NM is not the only state facing this water challenge, and Sobel wondered whether there could be an even more insidious strategy in play: creating a regional center for the treatment and reuse of toxic byproducts of the fracking process. The cost of treating and storing this byproduct is enormous and the drain on water supplies poses a future limit to extraction activity. Was the produced water legislation not just an effort to treat and reuse the toxic cocktail byproduct in NM but to create a regulated process through which gas and oil operators from other states could treat and reuse this byproduct, as well?

NM is already destined to be the spent fuel rod storage capital of the world. Now we may be the only producer of toxic “water” that is then reused in irrigation and agriculture. If so, not only would this eliminate the cost of storing “produced water,” it would simultaneously create another profit center for the gas and oil industry: selling their toxic refuse as water, all under the ever-vigilant watch of a Democratic Party-controlled state house and legislature.

That’s it for today. Back next week.

In solidarity,

Paul & Roxanne

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2 replies

  1. The Oil and Gas industry is way out in front on the water issue. One of their tactics was to try to get municipal water treatments plants to “treat” the fracking waste. Municipal water plants were not designed to remove petro chemicals and the proprietary chemicals in fracking waste. The industry has already faced this problem in states with a lot more water than New Mexico. They may be trying to get the state or federal government to build, and pay for, a central water treatment plant, subsidize pipelines. The real heavy lifting has already been done, they Rebranded the toxic fracking waste, as Produced Water. Now instead of a liability, it is a Commodity.

    They co opted NMSU in their scheme, since they gave them millions to “study it.” A small price to pay to silence academics, who want to keep the money rolling in. No one is paying attention to how the industries have undermined our academic institutions.

    Today in the Guardian,

    This corporation with the help of a some others, undermined our local politics. Not only to they contribute to obesity and diabetes, they are filling the oceans, arroyos and rivers with plastic. Every day the big box stores sell more and more plastic containers. The oil and gas industry is getting generous subsidies to build plastic plants, in the US.

    Then there is this, These community destroying stores are peppered across Appalachia and the small towns in New Mexico contributing to the food deserts. New Mexico residents are not allowed to know how many tax breaks, and subsidies these companies got as “economic development.” These stores even get USDA funds, since they sell just enough processed food, to qualify as a food store. People in these communities are dying, because there are no fresh foods available. Instead of addressing this issue they came up with “Wellness Programs” that deliberately overlook and downplay the impact of these limited choices, and the proliferation of fast foods.

    Low income and minorities are left with no options, but these processed food stores. Even the food distribution programs like Meals on Wheels rely on processed foods, cheap canned garbage food processed “meats” containing chemicals, salt and sugar. The severe negative impact on health has been monetized locally too.

    Then there is Housing, a gander at what they have been doing for the last thirty years might prepare people for what they will end up with. There were several Letters to the Editor today on the homeless, yet no one wants to examine the problem. They are still running the same tired old narratives!

  2. They can’t figure out why the murder rate dropped in India? The answer is right there! Less poverty means less desperate people.

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