Guardians appeal for public comment to save piñon and juniper
—FOREST GUARDIANS, NEW MEXICO
Tell the State Forestry Division that piñon and
juniper forests should be protected from the energy industry, not
burnt for electricity.
New Mexico is famous for its vast expanses of piñon and
juniper forests, a beautiful symbol of the Southwest. Now these
forests and the wildlife that depend on them need your voice. The
energy industry is turning to biomass—burning forests like
our piñon and juniper to generate electricity—in its
rush to promote “alternative” energy. Unlike solar and
wind, biomass is not renewable and is relatively unclean.
Piñon and juniper forests are already threatened by the
climate crisis, insect epidemics, and clearing by the livestock
industry. Juniper has always been considered a weed by the livestock
industry and thus is subject to indiscriminate clearing. However,
these trees are part of the interconnected web of life that supports
numerous species such as the juniper titmouse, the piñon
jay, and the gray vireo. In fact, at least seventy-three species
of birds breed in piñon-juniper forests.
With the impending threat of forest biomass energy facilities,
the New Mexico State Forestry Division is, to its credit, attempting
to redefine piñon-juniper forests to regulate cutting as
they do any other forest type that is subject to logging or clearing.
However, State Forestry is getting vehement opposition for the livestock
industry, which would like to continue to treat these vital trees
State Forestry needs to hear from New Mexicans, loud and clear,
that piñon-juniper forests should be protected like any other!
To learn more about Forest Guardians’ protection of Southwest
forests and to send a letter to State Forestry asking that piñon-juniper
harvesting require a permit with provisions for protection of wildlife,
water, and soil, go to the Forest Guardians website at www.fguardians.org.
Send your letter by the August 15th deadline for public comment.
Las Placitas Association volunteers construct a
trail in the Placitas Open Space.
A volunteer works on a stream bed stabilization
LPA Project August workshops
—REID BANDEEN, LAS PLACITAS ASSOCIATION
Please join the crew of the Las Huertas Watershed Project
for two workshops on watershed restoration during August. On Saturday,
August 11, we’ll be hosting a morning workshop on riparian
restoration on a beautiful stretch of Las Huertas Creek. Major floods
have altered the channel, and our new restoration measures are underway.
We’ll be working on fine tuning some new channel control structures
implemented as part of our overall Las Huertas watershed restoration
strategy. Meet at the Placitas Post Office at 8:30 a.m. and we’ll
carpool to the site, where we’ll work until about noon. Las
Placitas Association will provide tools, drinks, and snacks for
On Saturday, August 18, we’ll be hosting another workshop
on trail construction and maintenance out on the Placitas Open Space.
We’ll be joined by a crew of trail specialists from the City
of Albuquerque, and will continue work on a new trail connecting
the east entrance to the Creek area. Las Placitas and the City of
Albuquerque will provide tools, drinks, snacks and lunch for this
event. Please wear sturdy work clothes, and bring work gloves, a
sun hat, extra water, and some rain gear. We’ll meet at the
Placitas Post Office, carpool to the site, and work until about
These are free events sponsored by the LPA, a nonprofit organization
dedicated to preserving open space, restoring ailing watersheds,
and enhancing quality of life in the Placitas area. Log on to our
website at www.lasplacitas.org
for more information about Las Placitas Association.
To help us plan, please log onto www.lasplacitas.org and use the
“Contact Us” link to send an email on how many will
be in your group. If you don’t have access to email, but would
like to participate, please leave a message with Lolly Jones at
Best Green Practices Summit
comes to ABQ
Mayor Chavez is sponsoring the “Best Green Practices Summit”
at the Albuquerque Convention Center in August. The summit has been
developed to bring together key leadership from across New Mexico
to network and share best green practices. Breakout sessions will
present best practices in green building and development, energy
conservation, resource conservation and waste reduction, along with
other practices that are proven to reduce our impact on the environment.
The summit will kick off with a reception the evening of August
1, 6:30 p.m., at the Hyatt Regency Downtown. Full-day sessions will
take place at the Albuquerque Convention Center on August 2 and
3. For those interested, a tour of green buildings is scheduled
for Saturday, August 4.
From innovative session topics to the tour of green buildings,
this diverse summit will provide the essential knowledge take-away
to more than justify your valuable time away from the office. Registration
fee for the four-day event is $150 dollars per person. To RSVP,
call 311 in Albuquerque or call 768-3052.
Fred Wilson, recipient of the 2007 Governor’s
Award for Excellence in the Arts
Blues festival benefits wildlife at Anasazi
An impressive lineup of local musicians will take the stage at
Anasazi Fields Winery for Gathering of Spirits, August 11 and 12.
“Add a cast of local artisans, demonstrations of pot throwing
and wood turning, live bird shows, and a couple of wonderful new
wines from our cellar, and we expect a major good time,” says
vintner and woodcarver Jim Fish.
The festival runs from noon to 6:00 p.m. each day. Suggested admission
is $5. All proceeds benefit Wildlife West Nature Park, an educational
facility in Edgewood featuring native plants and animals of New
Mexico. The park is home to a pair of Mexican gray wolves, elk,
deer, pronghorn, javalinas, raptors, cougars, raccoons, a coyote,
a fox, and a bobcat.
Blues musicians John Webb, Chris Dracup, Tommy Elskes and Stagefright
Slim will play on Saturday. The lineup on Sunday is Trisha Ray,
Stan Hirsch, and Stagefright Slim. “All of these musicians
have played the winery before,” says Fish, “and they
are great. Gather up your friends and come out to see what we are
creating. You will not be disappointed.”
As a special treat this year, Fred Wilson, recipient of the 2007
Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts, will demonstrate
the art of pot throwing both days. In addition, Gail Tate will have
her lathe set up. Other artists showing works at the event include
Kristin Wilson, Barbara Barkley, Michael Colombo, Meg Leonard, Jean
Mahar, and Jim Fish.
Wildlife West Nature Park will be presenting a live bird show each
day of the festival from noon to 1:00 p.m.
Carpooling to the event is recommended. Lawn chairs and blankets
are suggested to complement the available seating. Food may be available
on site, but picnic baskets and non-alcoholic drinks are welcomed.
For more information, contact Jim Fish at 867-3062.
Justice for the Carlsbad
Pipeline Accident—worth the wait
—CAROL M. PARKER
On August 19, 2000, a pipeline accident occurred along
the Pecos River in southern New Mexico near Carlsbad. Twelve people
were killed when a fifty-year-old El Paso Natural Gas Company (El
Paso) pipeline exploded 675 feet from where they were camping and
fishing. The names of the victims, their young ages, and the causes
of death show the real human consequences of this tragedy. On July
26, 2007, the Department of Justice announced it had reached a settlement
with El Paso for its violations of the pipeline safety laws that
led to this terrible accident.
After the accident, the National Transportation Safety Board investigated
and concluded that, among other things, (1) the pipeline had internal
corrosion that El Paso had failed to detect, (2) El Paso had an
ineffective corrosion control program, (3) federal regulations were
inadequate, and (4) the U.S. Office of Pipeline Safety (OPS) conducted
inadequate preaccident inspections of El Paso’s corrosion
On June 21, 2001, OPS announced that it proposed a $2.5 million
dollar fine against El Paso for violating five regulations. This
was the largest civil penalty ever proposed against a gas transmission
pipeline operator in the history of the federal pipeline safety
program. El Paso denied that it had violated any regulations.
The usual process entailed an administrative hearing to decide
whether El Paso had violated regulations, but after two and a half
years of procedural wrangling with El Paso, on December 18, 2003,
OPS requested that the Department of Justice (DOJ) institute a civil
action to assess the penalty.
On July 26, 2007, DOJ announced that it had reached a Consent Decree
with El Paso for its violations of the pipeline safety laws. El
Paso continues to deny that it violated any laws. Although it has
been seven years since the accident, and three and a half years
since DOJ received the case, this is one of those situations where
the wait was worth it.
DOJ’s Consent Decree imposes a $15.5 million dollar penalty
against El Paso—more than six times what OPS had proposed.
The Consent Decree will require El Paso to make ninety-three percent
of its pipeline system capable of being internally inspected. This
technology has been available for more than thirty years and could
have prevented the Carlsbad accident. However, it could not be used
in most of El Paso’s pipeline system because the system had
not been designed to accommodate internal inspection devices.
The DOJ Consent Decree has been lodged with the U.S. District Court
in Albuquerque as 07-cv-715 and is subject to public comment for
thirty days. Those who wish to comment will be able to review the
Consent Decree at http://www.usdoj.gov/enrd/Consent_Decrees.html.
When the Consent Decree is posted, there will also be information
from the Federal Register about where comments can be submitted.