22 Year-Old Kirtland Air Base Massive Toxic Plume Remains Unmitigated, Texas Court Denies Suit to Force Air Force to Do Something: Green Amendment Anyone?

Also, a quote from Heather Cox Richardson and link to her 4.22 post, commentary on Kirtland and how it demonstrates the need for a Green Amendment and a link to Kiss the Ground, a powerful film about sustainable agriculture & an interview with Jeff Haas, civil rights attorney and author of The Assassination of Fred Hampton. We discussed the new ABQ police chief, the Santa Fe police budget, and of course, the recent Derek Chauvin decision.

Retake In Conversation with Jeff Haas

Jeff Haas has been a civil rights attorney for over 50 years, co-founding The People’s Law Office in Chicago at Fred Hampton and the Black Panthers behest. I am sure the choice of name and its subsequent abbreviation, PLO, is no coincidence, as Jeff is also a fervent advocate in support of Palestinian liberation. We spoke about the connection between Fred Hampton’s assassination and George Floyd’s, as well as a look at the possible impact the Chauvin decision might have on police reform/defund going forward. As an experienced civil rights attorney, he also weighed in on what he felt was the most important evidence to securing a guilty on all counts verdict. A very interesting interview.

News In Brief

Today, we offer just one NIB from Heather Cox Richardson and it is excellent. But before we get to HCR, we offer links to four of our latest posts, in case you missed them. We’ve been publishing late in the day recently and that always results in lower “read” rates, so today we are ready to go bright and early and so you get both today’s post early and links to our last two posts.

News In Brief With Heather Cox Richardson

HCR weaves discussion of three issues into one sad tale about the continuing descent of the GOP: D.C. as the 51st state; Democratic plans to expand the Supreme Court and the filibuster. The post describes how the Republican Party has a short memory, but recognizes that the only way they retain power is by undermining our democracy. As to short memory, check out the quote she cited from Ted Cruz:

““You didn’t see Republicans when we had control of the Senate try to rig the game. You didn’t see us try to pack the court. There was nothing that would have prevented Republicans from doing what they’re doing other than respect for the rule of law, other than basic decency, other than recognizing that democracy matters, and packing the court and tearing down the institutions that protect our rights is fundamentally wrong.”

Heather Cox Richardson: 4.22.21 On the Loss of Our Democracy.

Talk about loss of memory. Heather Cox Richardson shreds the logic here, pointing out how the Republicans have been packing courts for years, most notably during Obama’s last year in office, when the GOP-controlled Senate refused to consider Garland as a SCOTUS justice, saying it was too close to an election, only to shove Amy Coney Barrett down our throats with just two weeks to go before the election.

When it comes to her second theme, DC as the 51st state, she goes back to 1889 and describes how the GOP jammed through seven states in one year to ensure conservative control of national elections. No one is better at linking current politics and policy to historic precedents.

Finally, HCR challenges GOP frantic complaints about Dems considering eliminating the filibuster with a most compelling argument suggesting that the Senate is so horribly mis-representative of the population at large, that a 51 Senate majority ought to apply to any and all legislation. Must read. Click here.

Texas Judge Tosses SWOP, NM Voices, NM Environmental Law Center Suit

Kirtland Illustrates Our Need for a Green Amendment

Between 5 million and 24 million gallons of jet fuel remain underneath the ground in
Albuquerque’s precious aquifer in a giant plume that Kirtland Air Force Base discovered in 1999. “Clean-up” of the so-called spill has been moving glacially for more than twenty years. On Wednesday, a Federal Court Judge in Texas rejected SWOP et al v US Air Force, a suit that demanded a consent decree to force more action and a timeline for work on the project. The judge rejected the suit. Here is what Senate Pro-Tem, Mimi Stewart, thought of the decision.

“Unfortunately, it appears that the Air Force is conducting a 20-year science experiment on the Kirkland plume, supposedly “studying” the issue, and never offering a solid, aggressive, robust clean-up plan for our impacted communities,” said Senate Pro Tem Mimi Stewart. “A consent decree would have accomplished an-agreed upon plan to finally save our drinking water from damage by requiring a timeline and deadline for cleaning up the solvent fuel leaking into our water system. We got a Texas conservative judge with no knowledge of our issues and who did not care about New Mexico law and
water. These are shameful actions of our government,” Stewart added.”

Senator Mimi Stewart

George Lujan, Southwest Organizing Project Executive Director, added the obvious. Twenty two years is far, far too long to be figuring out how to address this issue and he points not just to the Air Force, but also to the Governor and the Environment Department.

“The Kirtland Air Force Base fuel plume underneath Albuquerque represents a decades-long, high-stakes failure of leadership,” said George Lujan, Executive
Director of the SouthWest Organizing Project. “All the community has asked for is for someone to take responsibility for the cleanup. The Air Force, the Governor’s office, the Environment Department—at some point someone has to step up and do their job. Anything less puts community health at risk.”

George Lujan, ED SWOP

While this case was heard in federal court, if the legislature had passed SB 3, the Environmental Rights Act and then if the voters were to approved= it in 2022, then lawyers from the New Mexico Environmental Law center would have had a very powerful tool for forcing the Governor, the Environment Department and the Air Force to take expedient and meaningful action.

Some opponents to the SB 3 had stated that the NM State Constitution already includes Article 20 Section 21, a provision that opponents and skeptics felt protected the environment sufficiently. But Article 20 Section 21 has been used to try to force government action before and the NM Supreme Court found that the Article did not specify that the government held a “trustee” relationship with the environment. As such Article 20 Section 21 could not be used to force government action to protect the environment. With the passage of SB 3 by the legislature and the voters, we would have that tool to force action. And based upon the pace with which the Air Force is addressing the Kirtland problem, very sadly on Jan 1, 2023 when SB 3 would become law, we are very likely to have to go to court to get it done.

We can still get the Green Amendment passed in time to have it on the ballot in November 2022 as in conversation yesterday, Sen. Sedillo Lopez indicated that she planned to introduce it in 2022 short session. Stay Tuned

Kiss the Ground

I can’t begin to estimate how many folks have sent recommendations for sharing this with you. The trailer will give you a preview of a full-length documentary that is available on Netflix.

How to Green the Worlds Deserts
& Reverse Climate Change

Very interesting 21 minute Ted Talk that builds on what we wrote on regenerative farming and grazing.

In solidarity and hope,

Paul & Roxanne

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1 reply

  1. If you think 22 years to study the KAFB plume is too long, consider how long Yucca Mtn has been studied. So little political will gets spent on environmental justice and climate-change deniers are often the ones saying we need more “science” just to put off any equitable decision.

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