La EPA investiga la supuesta discriminación por parte de la junta de calidad del aire

Dos años después que un grupo de apoyo comunitario presentó una denuncia contra un departamento de la cuidad de Albuquerque, una agencia federal confirmó que realizarán una investigación de la junta de calidad del aire de Albuquerque y del consejo administrativo. Miembros del Southwest Organizing Project (SWOP) presentaron una denuncia en 2014 contra el Albuquerque-Bernalillo […]

La EPA investiga la supuesta discriminación por parte de la junta de calidad del aire

Dos años después que un grupo de apoyo comunitario presentó una denuncia contra un departamento de la cuidad de Albuquerque, una agencia federal confirmó que realizarán una investigación de la junta de calidad del aire de Albuquerque y del consejo administrativo.

Miembros del Southwest Organizing Project (SWOP) presentaron una denuncia en 2014 contra el Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Air Quality Control Board y el Air Quality Division. El grupo dijo que negocios industriales son permitidos contaminar barrios dónde los habitantes son predominantemente gente de color. La denuncia también dice que la junta de la cuidad actuó en forma discriminatoria contra los miembros de la comunidad que viven en los barrios afectados al negarles una audiencia pública.

Ahora, el federal Agencia de Protección del Medio Ambiente (EPA) está investigando las reclamaciones.

Juan Reynosa, un socio fundador del SWOP, dijo que su grupo intentó trabajar con la junta durante años para reducir los efectos de la contaminación industrial cerca de barrios residenciales.

La junta y el Air Quality Division mantengan que realizaron estudios suficientes, pero el SWOP dice que los estudios no toman en consideración las instalaciones circundantes que contribuyen a la contaminación general.

Reynosa contó a NM Political Report que cuando los miembros de la comunidad desafiaron al proceso de permisos, los miembros de la junta lo cuestionaron y dijeran que no había evidencia suficiente para suportar su reclamación. El SWOP tenía equipo de prueba de un desafío ambiental previo contra Intel en Rio Rancho, por lo que reunieron sus propios datos.  Reynosa dijo que el SWOP encontró que cuando la contaminación se mide de forma acumulativa, los resultados muestran cantidades mayores de contaminación en las comunidades circundantes. La junta no aceptó los resultados.

“Nos encargamos de hacer el trabajo para ellos,” Reynosa dijo NM Political Report. “En vez de felicitar a los miembros de la comunidad, tomaron represalias e intentaron revocar sus esfuerzos.

La represalia, SWOP dijo en su queja, se produjo cuando la junta negó al grupo su oportunidad de presentar sus resultados en una audiencia pública.

Eric Jantz, un abogado con el New Mexico Environmental Law Center, presentó una denuncia en representación del SWOP. Jantz dijo que espera que los miembros de la comunidad y el Air Quality Control Board pueden llegar a un acuerdo sobre un método que mida la contaminación combinada en lugar de emitir permisos caso por caso.

“Se considera cada permiso individualmente,” dijo Jantz del proceso de autorización actual.

Danny Nevarez, el Director Adjunto de la Salud Ambiental de Albuquerque, dijo NM Political Report que es probable que la cuidad no puede cumplir los pedidos del SWOP.

“Están pidiendo mucho” dijo Nevarez en referencia a los métodos acumulativos de prueba que SWOP solicitó.

En una carta a SWOP y Jantz, la EPA confirmó que una investigación abierta está pendiente.

La carta explicó claramente que la investigación no implica causa probable o culpa por la cuidad.

Navarez dijo que los miembros de la comunidad y los legisladores necesitan ponerse de acuerdo.

Reynosa, dejando salir una risa frustrada, dijo, “ hemos hecho ese esfuerzo.”

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