Wednesday, September 27, 2023

The Rundown: WIPP Renewal Settlement, Funding for Wildfire Recovery and ABQ’s Partnership with a city in Ukraine


NMED Negotiates Settlement Agreement for WIPP Renewal Permit

The New Mexico Environment Department (NMED), U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and Salado Isolation Mining Contractors LLC (SIMCO), negotiated a settlement agreement two weeks ago with multiple parties that requested a hearing and that opposed the draft ten-year renewal permit for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) located in Carlsbad.

After four days of negotiations, the parties resolved the contentious issues by modifying conditions for inclusion in the permit renewal.

The agreement includes modified conditions that, in theory, provide greater regulatory oversight, improve safeguards and authorize disposal of waste in two new underground panels over the next ten-year permit term. The modified conditions also prioritize legacy waste from cleanup activities, including from Los Alamos National Laboratory.

“The new permit conditions affirm New Mexico’s authority and position that all roads lead from WIPP – we are no longer the last stop for clean-up but the driving force in that process that begins here,” said NMED Cabinet Secretary James Kenney. 

People will be able to ask questions about the final renewal permit at a hybrid public meeting on September 22, 2023. Participants can join the public meeting online or in-person in Carlsbad or Santa Fe. Registration for the meeting is not yet open. 

New Mexico Fines Texas Oil Company Over $40 million for ‘Egregious’ Air Quality and Oil and Gas Act Violations

The New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) and the New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department (EMNRD) enforcement actions against Austin, TX based oil and gas company for egregious violations of state rules and permitting requirements last week.

NMED issued an order to Ameredev for violations of state rules including significant excess emissions of five regulated air pollutants from five facilities in Lea County.

Ameredev has been ordered to cease and desist all excess emissions from its facilities, seek permits reflective of operations on-site, hire an NMED-approved independent, third-party auditor to assess all facilities and undertake projects to mitigate excess emissions. The company has also been fined $40,336,818.

Ameredev must respond to NMED’s Order and pay the penalty within 30 days or request a hearing.

NMED identified five Ameredev facilities that actively extracted oil and natural gas without any means to transport the gas to a midstream pipeline as required by state law.

Albuquerque Announces Sister City Partnership with Kharkiv, Ukraine

The City of Albuquerque announced its intention to establish a Sister Cities International relationship with the city of Kharkiv, located in the northeast region of Ukraine.

Kharkiv, the second-largest city in Ukraine, has been targeted by Russian attacks since the start of the Russia-Ukraine War in 2022, but according to recent reports, citizens are beginning to return to the city. Albuquerque officials and Mayor Keller hope to support Mayor Terekhov and Kharkiv residents during the reconstruction of the city, with damages estimated to be around $50 billion.

“We’re grateful to foster a relationship with Kharkiv that transcends borders and promotes peace and understanding,” said Mayor Tim Keller. “The people and leadership of Kharkiv are incredibly resilient, and we stand in solidarity with our Ukrainian friends, especially as they defend their democracy against Russian invasion.”

“The war continues, and in these difficult times it is especially important for our city to feel the support of the United States of America as a strategic partner of Ukraine in the fight against Russian aggression,” said Mayor Ihor Terekhov.

$47 Million in Funding From Bill Providing Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Fire Recovery

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced June 28 the state has approved $46.9 million in zero-interest loans to Mora and San Miguel counties provided through Senate Bill 6, a governor’s priority bill that she signed into law earlier this year.

The funding will be used for projects that replace or repair public infrastructure damaged by fire, flooding, or debris flows after the Hermit's Peak/Calf Canyon Fire.

“Getting this money out the door is a true testament to the power of collaboration between my administration, the Legislature, and local governments,” said Gov. Lujan Grisham. “But this is by no means the end of our support for communities affected by the largest wildfire in state history. As I continue to urge the federal government to expedite the resources they owe northern New Mexicans, we will push forward together to make sure New Mexicans are taken care of in the meantime.”

The six projects for this round of funding include road and culvert restoration and resurfacing. The fires caused substantial damage and burn scars followed by rapid rainfall and flooding that saturated and weakened the infrastructure.

The zero interest recovery loans will assist communities with recovery efforts while they await funding from the FEMA Public Assistance program. San Miguel and Mora counties are the first of the political subdivisions to request this funding.

Human Services Department awarded $924,895 to improve The Emergency Food Assistance Program in New Mexico

The U.S. The Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) recently awarded $924,895 to New Mexico Human Services Department (HSD) to improve the reach of The Emergency Food Assistance Program in remote, rural, tribal, and/or low-income areas.

HSD will use funds for efforts such as expanding mobile distribution options, making critical freezing and cooling upgrades to keep foods fresh, and building new partnerships so the program can serve all who need it.

“We’re thrilled to work with our partners, Roadrunner Food Bank, The Food Depot, The Community Pantry, and ECHO Inc. to expand fresh food storage and increase access to healthy food in rural New Mexico,” said Kari Armijo, acting secretary for the New Mexico Human Services Department. “Establishing mobile food pantries will help us end hunger in rural, isolated communities throughout Northern New Mexico by getting healthy food directly to the communities who need it.”


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here