Environmental justice campaign

On the Southside of Santa Fe, off of Airport Road, our neighborhoods are surrounded by pieces of land zoned for Industry, meaning we live, work, and play next to polluting industry. In 2019, we learned that our backyard Associated Asphalt & Materials Co was applying for a new air quality permit to essentially operate 24/7. We worked with residents, folks working next to this plant, and the New Mexico Environmental Law Center to push back the permitting process. We also organized almost 100 residents to attend the NMED hearing on the permit. We were shut down and faced language barriers in voicing our concerns about the plant. One of our members filed a civil rights complaint due to the treatment she faced when she was providing public comment during the hearing. New Mexico is a bilingual state, yet during state administrative public hearings they do not allocate resources for interpretation and translation.

Language justice necessitates that we create inclusive multilingual spaces where all voices are valued and included. It is our right to have our voices be heard in our language.

Now, the NMED has approved the permit. 

WHAT NOW??

We had an Environmental Improvement Board Hearing February 23-25, 2022. We heard from our expert witnesses & the NMED's attorney and reports. Now we will be waiting to hear the EIB recommendation which we expect to be released during the Summer!

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Thank you to the NMELC for their legal work in this case!

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“We were told on the first day of the hearing, in the first moments of public participation that community health concerns, cumulative impacts and disproportionate, racialized risks of illness or death were not being considered and would not be heard,” said Acosta. “He went even further and discouraged people from speaking if they were there to express those concerns. It was outrageous behavior by somebody acting on behalf of the NMED and Governor Lujan Grisham’s administration.

 

We are even more concerned now that the Build Back Better proposals include billions for road construction. This could see the plant operating at full capacity, every day all day, and maybe even expanding. Maybe those monies should be used to relocate polluting industries, and create alternative, non-lethal products for paving and construction,” said Acosta. 

“The Department’s approval of the AAM permit is incredibly disappointing and suggests that the Department cares more about industry interests than the health of impacted communities,” said Maslyn Locke, staff attorney at the New Mexico Environmental Law Center.

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