On November 20 th, the New Mexico Environmental Law Center (NMELC) filed its Brief in Chief for its appeal of Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Air Quality Control Board’s order upholding the City of Albuquerque Environmental Health Department’s (EHD) issuance of an air pollution permit to Honstein Oil & Distributing. The Law Center is representing the SouthWest Organizing Project and San Jose community residents Esther and Steven Abeyta. The Abeyta’s received the Jeanne Gauna Award for Outstanding Community Environmental Protection at NMELC’s annual holiday party on December 10th.

The permit allows the facility to emit 2.26 tons of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) annually. Community “bucket brigades” documented elevated levels of VOCs after EHD failed to monitor or require the permit applicant to monitor. Based on the New Mexico Air Quality Control Act, the appeal asserts that the EHD failed to consider: 1) the facility’s impacts on community members’ health; 2) the facility’s contribution to cumulative air emissions in the San Jose neighborhood; and 3) the facility’s impact on community members’ quality of life. The appeal also faults the Board for many procedural errors that affected the ability of the community to participate and for claiming that public health can never be considered during permitting. Learn more by visiting NMELC’s website here.

NMELC holds an agency endowment with NMCF. To learn how your organization can do the same, please contact Linda Milbourn at lmilbourn@nmcf.org