EPA investigating alleged discrimination by air quality board

Two years after a community advocacy group filed a complaint against a City of Albuquerque department, a federal agency confirmed it will conduct an investigation into the Albuquerque Air Quality Division and its governing board. Members of the Southwest Organizing Project (SWOP) filed a complaint in 2014 against the Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Air Quality Control Board and the Air Quality Division. The group said industrial businesses are allowed to overly pollute neighborhoods occupied predominantly people of color. The complaint also alleged the city board discriminated against community members who live in affected neighborhoods by denying them a public hearing. Now, the federal Environmental Protection Agency is investigating the claims.

Juan Reynosa, a field organizer with SWOP, said his group tried to work with the board for years to lessen the effects of pollution from industrial businesses near residential neighborhoods.

Group of scientists outline climate change impacts on New Mexico

New Mexico is the sixth-fastest-warming state in the United States, with average annual temperatures expected to rise 3.5 to 8.5 degrees Fahrenheit by the year 2100, according to a report released by the Cambridge, MA.-based nonprofit Union of Concerned Scientists. The report lays out many of the impacts New Mexicans may already be familiar with, including temperature rises, decreasing wateravailability, changes in snowpack, wildfire, conifer dieoff from insects and drought, and impacts to tribal communities from post-Los Conchas fire flooding. And it discusses the describes challenges posed to New Mexico culture, communities, and economic sectors–particularly the state’s agricultural sector.  

Union of Concerned Scientists report: http://www.ucsusa.org/sites/default/files/attach/2016/04/Climate-Change-New-Mexico-fact-sheet.pdf
Summer temperatures in New Mexico vary from year to year, but a careful analysis shows a consistent warming trend—a trend that is projected to continue into the future. Since 1970, the trend has steepened to an increase of about 0.6°F per decade.

Santolina master plan approved; legal challenges ahead

The Bernalillo County Commission narrowly approved the first steps of a massive planned development early Tuesday evening, prompting promises of legal challenges from opponents. On a 3-2 vote, commissioners approved the Level A master plan for Santolina, a planned community proposed on Albuquerque’s West Side that would cover 22 square miles. The proposed community is projected to house 90,000 people within the next four to five decades. The commission also approved zoning rules for the development plan. Commissioners Wayne Johnson, Art De La Cruz and Lonnie Talbert voted in favor of both measures.

Bypass adds to central NM development debate

When it comes to divisive central New Mexico land development issues, the planned community of Santolina gets all the attention. But other projects to expand Albuquerque’s West Side are also quietly moving forward. Tucked in the many provisions included in this year’s reauthorization of previous year’s capital outlay projects is an extension of a bypass road west of Albuquerque. Currently, the Paseo del Volcan bypass extends from Unser Boulevard to Highway 550 in Rio Rancho. This year, the state Legislature approved funds to purchase right of way for the unfinished portion of Paseo del Volcan from Unser Boulevard to Interstate 40.