There isn’t enough community interest in the cleanup of the massive Kirtland Air Force Base jet fuel spill to merit the creation of a Restoration Advisory Board. That’s according to a memo sent out by the U.S. Air Force this Monday. Restoration Advisory Boards, or RABs, allow local governments and citizens to become more involved in environmental restoration issues at U.S. Department of Defense facilities. In the memo, Kirtland Commander Col. Eric Froehlich wrote that last year the executive director of Citizen Action, Dave McCoy, delivered a petition with 80 signatures, asking that the federal government create a RAB related to the jet fuel leak and cleanup.
Last week, Santa Clara Village Clerk Sheila Hudman had a scare. She had submitted reimbursement requests to the New Mexico Environment Department for a grant the village had received last year. But instead of depositing money into the village’s bank account, the agency sent a troubling letter. In its letter, NMED said it would no longer accept invoices or requests for reimbursement for the grant. According to a story in the Silver City Daily Press on Monday, that Jan.
A report by the Santa Fe Reporter delved into something that has troubled local reporters for some time: how unresponsive public information officers under Susana Martinez have been. The highly-paid positions are usually well above twice the median salary of the state. From the report: Emails, phone calls and text messages to the public information officers are often ignored. Even program managers more often than not refuse to go on the record or discuss policy plans and objectives. Many claim they’ve been instructed not to talk to the press.
Until earlier this year, states across the nation, including New Mexico, had been holding public meetings and planning to cut pollution from power plants. Taken as a whole, those plans were the Obama Administration’s most significant attempt, through the Clean Power Plan (CPP), to cut U.S. emissions of greenhouse gases. With the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) unable to adhere to the original timeline for requiring states to complete their carbon-cutting plans or face implementation of a federal plan, Texas, Utah, and 18 others suspended work. Others like Colorado, California, Oregon, and many northeastern states continued planning.But in February, the Supreme Court stayed implementation of the CPP, pending the outcome of a lawsuit against the plan before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Then, there’s New Mexico.
A state department has fined the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Authority more than $144,000 for several violations, the most serious of which is over the exposure of multiple employees to a toxic chemical. In May, New Mexico Occupational Safety and Health Bureau (OSHA) found 44 violations by the Water Authority after six months of investigation. More than a third of the dollar figure for the fines comes from exposing employees to hazardous levels of ozone, a toxic gas that at high levels can cause serious respiratory problems and trigger asthma attacks. Ozone is one of the many chemicals used to purify drinking water at the Water Treatment Plant in Albuquerque. OSHA classifies the ozone violation as “willful-serious,” noting that the Water Authority “was aware that there were no [National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health-certified] respirators for ozone” and instead allowed its employees to use air-purifying respirators.