environment

Lance Cpl. Matthew K. Hacker via Wikipedia / creative commons license

For the first time in 40 years, the federal government is changing the way it regulates toxic chemicals. The new chemical safety act will overhaul a 1970's-era law by giving the Environmental Protection Agency more oversight.

U.S. Senator Tom Udall, who sponsored the bill, says New Mexicans don’t have any local oversight of dangerous chemicals in household products, which leaves people here especially vulnerable.

Climate Activist Kids

May 24, 2016
Our Children's Trust, CC

5/28, 9a: The Children's Hour welcomes kids who are actively trying to save the planet. Aji Piper will join us from Seattle to talk about the lawsuit that he and 19 other kids are involved with to hold governments accountable for pollution. The kids are winning their cases, and that's good news for us all. 


Marisa Demarco / KUNM

Dollar stores are everywhere these days—they’re being built at a record pace, according to industry reports. In some rural communities in this state, you might not see any store except a dollar store. A campaign is calling on these discount chains to make sure products are nontoxic.

BRRT via Pixabay / public domain

KUNM’s Public Health New Mexico project has been reporting on a plume of toxic chemicals in Albuquerque’s groundwater for over six months.

We obtained public documents from the New Mexico Environment Department that show the groundwater plume has been spreading underneath a mile-and-a-half-long swath of Albuquerque’s Sawmill and Wells Park neighborhoods. Our investigation shows the contamination has the potential to reach people on the surface and could pose a serious health risk to people living and working in the area.

Ed Williams

Mountain View, a neighborhood in the Rio Grande Valley south of Albuquerque, is one of the most environmentally burdened communities in New Mexico. There are dozens of industrial facilities, and hardly any places for kids to play outside. With heavy traffic and no sidewalks, just walking home can be dangerous.

But some of that is changing, with the help of a new wildlife refuge.  

Ed Williams

Editor's Note: A spokeswoman for the New Mexico Environment Department emailed with concerns about this story. We reviewed them and found no inaccuracies. We stand by our reporting. You can find a link to her email and read our response here.

Decades ago, a chemical business called Laun-Dry Supply Company leaked poisonous dry cleaning solvents into Albuquerque’s groundwater.

In the years since, nobody has investigated possible health impacts to people living near the contamination.

But that changed this week. On Wednesday, the New Mexico Environment Department started the process of testing houses for chemicals from the Laun-Dry spill.

Creative Commons, Wiki

This week on The Children's Hour, we'll talk about dashing with dogs and making art from trash.  Our friends from Animal Humane New Mexico will visit with their human companions, and the Recycle Santa Fe Art Festival will tell us about trashion fashion.  With a family events calendar, the KUNM Kids Birthday Club and great music, we hope you'll join us, Oct 24, 9-10am.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

UPDATE 8/25 at 12:30 p.m.: President Russell Begaye is awaiting soil and sediment samples from the Navajo Nation's Environmental Protection Agency before deciding whether to remove restrictions on irrigation from the San Juan River, according to spokesperson Mihio Manus. Begaye, a farmer himself who's relied on the river, met with farmers in Shiprock on Thursday, Aug. 20. 

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Marisa Demarco / KUNM

It’s been nearly two weeks since the Gold King Mine spill caused the shut down of San Juan River irrigation to farms on the Navajo Nation. Emergency stopgap measures aren’t quite panning out. 

Rita Daniels

New Mexico lifted water restrictions on the Animas and San Juan Rivers over the weekend in the wake of a toxic mine spill in Colorado.

Water samples showed spikes in heavy metals, but state and federal officials say contaminants have been diluted and dispersed downstream.

That brought relief to farmers in San Juan County who are not on the Navajo Nation. They were given the go-ahead on Saturday to irrigate and use the water for watering livestock after the San Juan and Animas Rivers had been closed for more than a week.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

Update Aug. 18, 11:30 a.m.: The EPA said the water for the Navajo Nation came from nearby Bloomfield and met state and federal quality standards. The trucks came from a division of an Aztec, N.M.-based company, Triple S Trucking, that moves non-potable water. The company also hauls fluids to and from oil fields. KUNM awaits comment from Triple S. 

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

SHIPROCK, N.M.—Not everyone on the Navajo Nation had heard about the Gold King Mine spill that happened more than a week ago, even though they might live along the San Juan River.

Rita Daniels / KUNM

The Navajo Nation Council met on Monday, Aug. 10, to talk about impacts from the more than 3-million-gallon toxic spill into the Animas River. "This is an assault on our way of life," said Delegate Amber Crotty. "This is an assault on core of who we are as Diné people."

Young Diné Activists March Toward Sacred Mountain

Jul 30, 2015
Rita Daniels

SHIPROCK, N.M.—Navajo youth are walking hundreds of miles across their reservation for what they call a Journey for Existence. They will be summiting one of their sacred mountains near Cortez, Colorado, this weekend to offer prayers for the planet.

Religious Leaders Call For Action On Climate Change

Jul 28, 2015
Rita Daniels

Faith leaders in New Mexico are asking citizens to take personal responsibility for tackling climate change.

Muslim, Jewish and Christian leaders stood together beneath the broiling sun Tuesday morning, pledging their support for a new Papal Encyclical, which encourages people to curb their consumption of energy.

Sister Joan Brown is with the religious nonprofit New Mexico Interfaith Power and Light.

Geologue via Flickr

An environmental law firm in Santa Fe is petitioning the state Supreme Court to overturn a law that allows copper mines to pollute groundwater. 

As the law stands, companies can allow toxic drainage to seep into the groundwater beneath their copper mines, as long as the pollution stays within a designated perimeter. But New Mexico Environmental Law Center director Douglas Meiklejohn says that’s a violation of the state’s Water Quality Act.

Images Money via CC

New Mexico legislative leaders say talks are underway to try to forge a compromise on a funding bill for building work and other projects across the state.

The regular session ended without agreement on a capital outlay bill amid partisan finger-pointing, but the Santa Fe New Mexican reports that leaders of the Democratic-led Senate and the Republican-controlled House hope to reach an agreement.

A Compromise Plan For N.M. Dairies

Apr 7, 2015
flikr2570 via Compfight CC

For years, dairymen, the state and environmental watchdogs have been trying to reach an agreement about how to deal with the waste that comes from hundreds of thousands of cows in New Mexico. The Water Quality Control Commission held a hearing Monday afternoon to consider proposed amendments to the Dairy Rule. But that’s not what they ended up talking about.

The public comment period ends Saturday, April 4, about an asphalt plant that could go in near a wildlife reserve in the South Valley. Albuquerque Asphalt applied for a permit to build at hot-mix asphalt plant, and neighbors are concerned that the site for the plant is too close to the Valle de Oro Wildlife Refuge. It’s a little more than half a mile away.

elycefeliz via flickr

The Environmental Protection Agency is working with the City of Albuquerque to install a state of the art parking lot at a municipal facility that will reduce pollution flowing into the Rio Grande. 

The city is spending $61,000 to replace an old parking lot at Pino Yards, a municipal maintenance and fueling facility. The project is part of a settlement with the EPA, coming after toxic runoff from the site drained into the Rio Grande, resulting in violations of the Clean Water Act.

Laura Tenoria

Taos High School students are pitching a water-cleaning project in a national science competition called eCYBERMISSION this week in D.C. The prize? $25,000 and the chance to help the U.S. get antibiotics out of its water supply.

Students at Taos High have figured out how use crushed blue crab shells to create filters that remove antibiotics from water. They used the crustacean shells to create Chitosan, which is commonly used in agriculture, medicine and industry. 

Las Historias Escondidas de Sunland Park

Sep 13, 2012
AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin

Mon. 9/17 7p: "The Hidden Histories of Sunland Park"

In 2011 and 2012, the small New Mexico border community of Sunland Park made regional headlines and national news for its political scandals. Delving into the sensational, the media coverage largely glossed over long-running environmental troubles affecting the lives of the town’s residents on a daily basis.  

This Spanish-language radio documentary  helps fill the gap by exploring crucial environmental issues that impact the nearly 15,000 residents of a mainly Spanish-speaking, low-income community bordering Texas and Mexico.

Photo via www.article.wn.com

Grand Canyon officials had all but banned disposable water bottles when the nation’s parks director blocked the plan. Environmentalists are fired up after hearing reports that the decision was influenced by Coca-Cola. From the Fronteras Changing America Desk, Laurel Morales reports.

Photos via www.sustainablecities.dk

Like most sunbelt cities, the growth model in Las Vegas. Nevada was to expand out, creating sprawling suburbs and quiet gated communities.

In Part Three of the Fronteras Changing America Desk series Beyond Sprawl, reporter Jude Joffe-Block takes us to a trendsetting local online shoe and clothing company.  Zappos thinks an urban setting would be better fit for his employees and its industry in general.

Photo via www.flickr.com by StuSeeger

The Red Rock National Conservation Area outside of Las Vegas has stunning red colored sandstone and desert vistas that draw millions of visitors each year. It turns out 190 million years ago, the park had a very early visitor no one previously knew was in the area—a dinosaur.  From the Fronteras Changing America Desk, Jude Joffe-Block reports.

Photo via www.blog.aorafting.com

California's New River was once the most polluted in the country. As Ruxandra Guidi reports from the Fronteras Changing America Desk, government officials now say it's much cleaner because of greater investment in border environmental issues.

Photo via www.thephoenixsun.com

A report out this week by NPR and the Center for Public Integrity highlights severe environmental violations by a copper smelting plant in Hayden Arizona. The smelter in question belongs to the American Smelting and Refining Company, or ASARCO, which operates four plants in the southwest. ASARCO once operated a similar smelter in El Paso, Texas. When the company was shut down, they left behind a legacy of pollution.

Photo by Paul J Everett via www.flickr.com

Some environmental groups sued the federal government this week to go further in reducing air pollution -namely carbon monoxide - in eight western states including New Mexico, Arizona, and Colorado.  From Flagstaff and the Fronteras Changing America Desk Laurel Morales reports.

OpenThreads via Flickr / Creative Commons License

One of the largest tracts of undeveloped land in Albuquerque’s South Valley is set to become a National Wildlife Refuge, one of few to be located in an urban area.  

inhabitat.com

Next month the last of the world’s largest coal-slurry plants will literally implode. The Mohave Generating Station in Laughin Nevada closed in 2005 after a series of conflicts with environmentalists and the Navajo Nation over pollution and water use.

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