Four Corners Conservation Meeting in Farmington
Rio Grande Chapter leaders held a conservation meeting on March 31 at the San Juan Community College in Farmington, with about 20 in attendance.
Ken Hughes gave an eloquent summary of his experiences at the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, including slides of this small but very environmentally aware nation – big wind farms in the sea, buses running on biogas, 85% excise tax on cars. Dan Lorimier provided a good summary of the Legislative Session. Kristina Ortez, our Building Bridges to the Outdoors staffer in Albuquerque, gave an overview of the natural leaders youth program, and stressed the need for involving our young people in outdoor environmental projects.
Mike Eisenfeld from the San Juan Citizens Alliance gave an account of the current status of Desert Rock – no permits in seven years, no customers, and a bad economy. Will they bow out? He noted the ozone levels from both the power plants and from the 35,000 oil and gas wells are on the cusp of non-attainment– if the standards are lowered at all, Farmington
will be out of attainment. Ninety-five percent of BLM land in the San Juan Basin has oil and gas leases. The Indian Health Service in Shiprock reports 28% of school-age children there have asthma. The area is ripe for renewable energy projects, and the new director of EPA’s Region 9 termed the current situation an egregious environmental justice issue. Andy Bessler, Sierra Club staffer from Flagstaff, is optimistic about the beginnings of a Navajo Green Economy. The tribe will soon be reviewing the Peabody Coal contracts, and may reject them. Norma McCallan asked the audience to send letters to the President requesting that the Office of Management & Budget note the real dangers of coal ash and the need for strong federal regulation of coal combustion waste.
Norma mentioned a recent BLM forum on off-road vehicle issues at the BLM’s Glade Run Recreation Area, and urged residents to weigh in. A number of members noted growing problems with off-road vehicles. It is always a rewarding experience to connect with our Four Corners members, and we look forward to the next event, when we hope our Dine Cares and Dooda Desert Rock colleagues will be able to attend. —Norma McCallan
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