September 8, 2017

About that haze…and more on NM’s environment news

Laura Paskus

Come back to NM Political Report on Monday to read about restoration and wildlife programs at the Pueblo of Santa Ana

If you’ve been wondering about New Mexico’s hazy skies (and spectacular sunsets) this week, read Tom Yulsman’s post at Discover Magazine about the 77 large fires currently burning more than 1.4 million acres in eight western states. New Mexico was spared from a bad fire season this summer, but other states, including normally wet ones, were not. The National Weather Service in Albuquerque expects the haze to hang around through the weekend.

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In southeastern New Mexico, a tank battery at an oil well on State Trust Land exploded last week, killing three people. The state and the local sheriff’s office are investigating what happened, and the family of one of those killed is suing Caza Petroleum.

According to the State Land Office, the three workers were killed when the tank they were welding exploded. The well was set to be fracked the next day. The company, which is based out of Texas, has leased those 320 acres in the Permian Basin since May 2009.

Not too far from there, the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant is more than half-full of radioactive waste from nuclear weapons production. According to a story by the Santa Fe New Mexican’s Rebecca Moss,  a new federal report points to the need for expanding WIPP. That expansion, writes Moss, “could also pave the way for WIPP in the future to accept more dangerous, high-level nuclear waste, which is currently prohibited by law.”

The legislature’s Water and Natural Resources Committee held hearings in Silver City this week. Benjamin Fisher with the Silver City Daily Press has a run-down on how the first day went.

And no, I still don’t know when the White House will release Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s recommendations about the fate of national monuments up for review, including two in New Mexico. I dropped Zinke’s press secretary a note this morning, and she wrote back, “No new announcements.”

Upcoming public meetings 

Four Corners Science Forum on Methane
Monday, Sept. 121-4 p.m.,
Durango Recreation Center, 2700 Main Avenue, Durango
Presentations from the first public meeting in 2015 related to the methane anomaly can be found here.

The Four Corners Air Quality Group annual meeting
Tuesday, Sept. 13, 1 p.m.
Durango Recreation Center, 2700 Main Avenue, Durango

New Mexico Game Commission monthly meeting
Thursday, Sept. 28
Red River Community House, 116 E Main St, Red River

The Air Force and the New Mexico Environment Department will host an informational meeting to discuss the Kirtland Air Force Base Bulk Fuels Facility leak Risk Assessment report.
Thursday, Sept., 6 p.m.
African American Performing Arts Center in Albuquerque

Public meeting to discuss a “corrected application” filed by Augustin Plains Ranch in April 2016 to pump 54,000 acre-feet of water from the aquifer
Thursday, Sept. 28, 6 p.m.
New Mexico Tech, Macey Center, 801 Leroy Place, Socorro

The N.M. Interstate Stream Commission meeting for September was cancelled, and is likely to be rescheduled for either Oct. 2 or 3 at 9 a.m.
Office of the State Engineer/Interstate Stream Commission Conference Room
5550 San Antonio Drive NE, Albuquerque