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Coming up Friday: The U.S. Forest Service at the Table

There are a few events coming up around the new Ken Burns film, The American Buffalo. On Wednesday, the University of New Mexico’s Dr. Kirsten Pai Buick will speak about American landscapes. Next week, join Ria Thundercloud (Ho-Chunk and Sandia) and on Oct. 4, Jason Asenap (Comanche/Muscogee). Head over to the NMPBS website to read more and register

Coming up on New Mexico in Focus this week, I’ll be hosting a conversation with U.S. Forest Service officials about the Hermits Peak-Calf Canyon Fire, Cerro Pelado, prescribed fire protocols, and the future of fire and forest management in a warming world.

I’m looking forward to speaking with Southwestern Regional Forester Michiko Martin, Santa Fe National Forest Supervisor Shaun Sanchez, and Santa Fe National Forest Fuels Program Manager Dennis Carril.

Please tune in on Friday night—it promises to be a thoughtful and interesting conversation. 

Last week, I watched a roundtable hosted by the University of Texas at Austin titled, “Overallocated and Unsettled: Critical Reflections on the Past, Present, and Future of the Colorado River.” 

The conversation featured Andrew Curley (Diné, The University of Arizona), Teresa Montoya (Diné, The University of Chicago), and Traci Brynne Voyles (North Carolina State University) and was moderated by Erika M. Bsumek (University of Texas at Austin). Some of you might be interested in a few resources from those scholars, including:

Carbon Sovereignty: Coal, Development, and Energy Transition in the Navajo Nation (Andrew Curley)

The Foundations of Glen Canyon Dam: Infrastructures of Dispossession on the Colorado Plateau (Erika Marie Bsumek) 

The Settler Sea: California’s Salton Sea and the Consequences of Colonialism (Traci Brynne Voyles)

“Governing water insecurity: navigating indigenous water rights and regulatory politics in settler colonial states” (by Nichole J. Wilson, Teresa Montoya, Rachael Arseneault, and Andrew Curley in Water International

You can also watch a 2022 conversation with Curley about how the “crisis” on the Colorado River precedes climate change. 

Here’s some of the news you shouldn’t miss:

“Hundreds protest outside The Clyde Hotel during the Climate Strike Rally and March” (Chancey Bush, Albuquerque Journal)

“The fight against climate change returns to the streets” (Bill McKibben, The New Yorker)

“Objections to Rio Grande SCOTUS settlement could drop in October” (Danielle Prokop, Source NM)

“Powered by wind, this $10B transmission line will carry more energy than the Hoover Dam” (Susan Montoya Bryan, Associated Press)

“BLM wants to protect the Placitas area from oil and gas extraction” (Austin Fisher, Source NM)

“City buys 145-acre open space for $1.4M: Diamond Rock property is ‘jewel’ for city” (Alaina Mencinger, Albuquerque Journal)

“After a Century, Oil and Gas Problems Persist on Navajo Lands” (Jerry Redfern, Capital & Main) 

“We don’t need utopias” (Ruxandra Guidi, High Country News)

An opinion piece at The Third Pole by one of my favorite writers on climate change focuses on South Asia. But it’s relevant to the United States, and New Mexico:

At The Third Pole, Joydeep Gupta writes: 

“As the world confronts the impacts of climate change, the role of the state is more prominent than ever. The state sets national climate policies and carbon reduction targets, and represents its citizenry at global climate summits. It plays a critical role in sectors, from infrastructure to agriculture, which both drive and suffer the impacts of climate change. Its decisions affect the extent to which entire populations suffer from rising temperatures.

But in many countries, these life-altering decisions are made by a small group of politicians and bureaucrats, as opposed to through consensus building in parliament and the press. This is especially true for South Asia, where countries are increasingly moving towards an opaque decision-making model.”

Moreover, he writes: “Opacity in government decision-making often worsens when elections are in the offing, as they now are in Bangladesh. The media in the country is focused almost entirely on electoral prospects, protests and violence. Almost no one is asking politicians about climate goals.”

Read the entire piece, “Opinion: As democracies weaken, who gets a say in South Asia’s climate future?”

Earlier this month, the New Mexico Environment Department rejected plans by Los Alamos National Laboratory to leave certain types of radioactive and toxic waste onsite. Instead, the state has said cleanup “must consist of waste excavation, characterization, and appropriate disposal of the buried waste.” 

According to the state’s public notice:

The State of New Mexico’s Environment Department (NMED) is issuing a Statement of Basis for selection of a remedy for corrective action at Material Disposal Area (MDA) C, Solid Waste Management Unit (SWMU) 50-009 at Technical Area 50. MDA C is an 11.8-acre landfill consisting of 115 subsurface waste disposal units, including 7 pits and 108 shafts. The depths of the 7 pits at MDA C range from 12 to 25 feet below the original ground surface and the depths of the shafts range from 4 to 25 feet below the original ground surface. Old Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory disposal logbooks were used to identify some of the waste disposed of at MDA C. Six (6) of the pits at MDA C were reported to dispose of solid wastes containing hazardous waste, uncontaminated classified materials, and low-level radioactive waste. One of the pits, the chemical pit, was used to dispose of a variety of chemicals, metals, plutonium and uranium-contaminated objects, and low-level radioactive waste. The 108 shafts were primarily used for disposing of beta-and gamma-contaminated waste in addition to metals, radionuclides, and inorganic chemicals. Results of poregas sampling indicated that a volatile organic compound (VOC) plume is located in the subsurface approximately 100-200 feet below ground surface at MDA C.

The state is also accepting public comment until Nov. 6. For more information on the cleanup and how to comment, visit NMED’s public notice

Meanwhile, the U.S. Forest Service is seeking scoping comments for the proposed Sandia Crest Recreation Complex Renovation Project. You can find out more about the project online. And if you want to read more about the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s mineral withdrawal on 4,000 acres near Placitas—and learn how to comment on that, too—visit the BLM’s NEPA register website.

Lastly, thanks to a friend for making sure I didn’t miss this absolute stunner of a piece from The New York Times, “Whales, From Above.”

Thanks for reading and tune in on Friday night!

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