reening Ways         for earth-wise days
Resources Regional/4 Corners Air & Water Pollution
UPDATED 11/26/2014 AIR AND WATER POLLUTION - SAN JUAN RIVER BASIN/FOUR CORNERS AREA HELPFUL RESOURCES: Organizations, Informative Websites, Etc. The idea behind this page is to help people find each other in The Four Corners area including San Juan County, New Mexico and La Plata County, Colorado - and beyond. The more we realize who is here already working on these problems, the more we can work together to solve problems and access the many wonderful resources and knowledgeable people in the area. We might not realize just how active people are in the area until we see a resource list like this. Please feel free to add your own group to this or any other informative website you feel is applicable by writing to Air, water and soil pollution are connected. Just because a link to an informative website or other information is placed under one heading or another like “air” or “water” does not mean it does not relate to other categories of pollution. Things in the air land in the water and soil. As particulate matter, gases and chemicals shift composition in the water and soil, they might circulate in one form or another back up to the air. Things that are ingested through food and water might land in the soil and water through feces and urine. Material that is liquid upstream might land on the sides of a river bank or arroyo many miles away, only to dry up and become a sun-burned and chemically transformed solid toxin. Chemicals that start out as one thing in a container - from over-the-counter medicines to petroleum products - might shift chemical composition with age and temperature changes, eventually becoming poisonous or otherwise hazardous. If we keep our minds open in considering all the ways substances can change via several processes, we will realize we are dealing with a complex mosaic of trouble spots often bleeding into each other from a variety of standpoints. By working with a broad group of professionals with different interests and specialties, we will be better able to confront these challenging issues. See additional commentary below: The Psychological, Social and Cultural Worlds in the Four Corners Collide With Well-Meaning Environmentalism AIR & WATER POLLUTION Air Quality Bureau - Ozone Coal Related Pollution Colorado Air Pollution from Oil and Gas Farmington, New Mexico Air Quality - Suspended Particulate Matter, Charts, Etc. Four Corners Air Quality Group (note the website is still up but several of the dates on it (like presentations) seem old; not sure if the group is still up and running. Notice the link is the same as the Air Quality Bureau but sent to a different page) Ozone and other air pollutant/asthma study Ozone High In San Juan County, New Mexico Powering Past Coal at the Four Corners Power Plant A Major Health Threat San Juan County Energy Pollution Epicenter San Juan Soil and Water Conservation District The San Juan Watershed Group Covers areas of the Upper San Juan, Middle San Juan, Animas and Blanco watersheds Sol Not Coal San Juan County Fact Sheet The Psychological, Social and Cultural Worlds in the Four Corners Collide With Well-Meaning Environmentalism Together we can make a difference in this beautiful region which deserves more than being turned into an urban sprawl/toxic dump from sources like fossil fuel related industries. We must remember we are often dealing with a mindset and culture predisposed to thinking that the job and money come first, the environment and human health second. One of the things we run into particularly in San Juan County, New Mexico is hard-headedness and a resentment toward authoritarianism. Because there is a widespread tendency toward domestic violence and punishment-driven religious behaviors in the area along with substance abuse, there is a pattern of passing the abuse on yet also resenting anything that feels like domination. It is a two-edged sword. Abuse (including heavy-handed discipline practices) changes the whole character of an area because it makes people sensitive to certain behavioral approaches which on the surface might not seem that demanding or unfair. Once you realize that someone’s father and grandfather passed on a legacy of hit first, think later, things start making a lot more sense. Another way to put is Spare the rod, spoil the child. This is a theme song in San Juan County. It’s part of the rough and tumble, Prove you are a man, show who is boss, and Don’t let women get away with nothin’ cuz given an inch they’ll take a mile mentality. There are literally men here who think that a wayward woman needs more hitting and domination to get her to See sense. ‘Seeing sense’ means turning someone into pulp so there is no shred of human dignity or self-esteem left to fight back. Heterosexuality means the man in is in power; it’s not a relationship of communication and finding balance - dialogue is limited because it is hard for men within this framework to show feelings without worrying about coming across as gay. Being the boss comes with an attitude of force. The idea of showing so and so who is boss does not sit well when the tables are turned, however. So if an environmentalist comes in trying to set up standards and mete out financial penalties for pollution violations, this whole world of slap-slap, given them an inch, they will take a mile and trust everyone but brand your cattle tends to throw up its bristles and rear up in stubbornness. People would have trouble finding a stubborn streak just exactly like the type found here in other parts of the country. It is without question an area-ridden tendency. Also realize you probably have ex-war veterans/cowboys/flag wavers driving old ugly trucks (possibly on the payroll with the police) driving around with not only guns but also high tech equipment designed to snatch your cell phone conversations and watch for any flaw in your driving habits or vehicle if you are on some kind of watch list. Also imagine the possibility that there is a hidden Catholic surveillance sector perfectly capable of getting into your internet sessions in public places and monitoring your activities. Why? Because once the word gets around you might be poking around in their affairs (like sexual abuse) or that you don’t like their anti-abortion signs dominating the area, you get on their black list. On top of all that, there are gangs and drug dealers hanging out in the public domain and air space ready to lop up money however possible or to spot possible vulnerability for a variety of exploitative uses (prostitution, etc.) - all with their own range of surveillance technology and networks. People coming in from the environmental sector trying to make changes in polluting practices run into this whole wilder than the old wild west constantly because people don’t want to be told what to do here. It makes them mad. It is important to realize there are cultural elements from Texas, Oklahoma, the southern United States (like from Louisiana oil/gas patches) and New Mexico itself. Historic lines of family networks and religious orientations also dominate the area. For many years, the area has been rather off to itself, isolated from larger cities like Albuquerque, Phoenix and Denver. No major highways running through town. People tell themselves they are out of the link of direct responsibility for dumping wastes into the river, soils or air because they are remote and also diligent about the very industries dumping toxins into our air and water; because they feel they are being resourceful and hard working, they are not predisposed to viewing their dumping practices as harmful, especially if they think they can show the products are falling within certain EPA standards. Although the EPA standards are often necessary (even vital) to initiating codes of conduct and restraining bad practices, they don’t necessarily reflect the true state of potential hazardous levels for animals, plants and people. In other words, the idea that a person has a job and a paycheck gives them a sense of immunity from other issues. We need to start finding ways to help people make money happily without using coal and other fossil fuel related resources. It is as simple yet as complex as that. Once people realize they are making as much or more at other forms of employment, they will drop being defensive and protective of the fossil fuel world. So it is all of our responsibility to help figure out ways to get people off the fossil fuel hook and onto another more productive system. The fossil fuel world drives most of what goes on in the area, and no one, even the most environmentally sensitive and responsible - is immune to this fact. If you live in San Juan County, you are benefiting or at least using something related to the fossil fuel world in some way or another. For this reason, we cannot point fingers or judge. We just need to jump in and try to find solutions as best we can even while we are using things from this arena. Just because we use it does not mean we have to shut up and be quiet about finding other alternatives. Driving cars with gasoline and heating homes with gas does not indicate some kind of hypocritical approach; we can be easing off these things while learning and creating other ways to do life. We are not encouraging everyone to stop cold turkey unless they have the means to do so, we just want all of us to start moving toward a more realistic approach to survival and quality of life. There are many people around the globe who do not have adequate heat, water or sanitation and live in very shabby conditions. Many people in San Juan County - even those in lower cost housing - exceed those levels of poverty. What is considered a necessity here and par for the course goes way beyond what many people can afford in third world countries. One of the things we need to realize is that the trucks and SUVs which dominate the area not only suck gas, they also are more costly to purchase and maintain. A tank of gas can run anywhere from $75 to $125 or more per fill-up. This means that people have to earn a certain level of income just to keep up with that. It is sad to reflect that a person on minimum wage would have to decide between rent or gas just to get to and from work and around town, but the reality is that it can definitely occur. On the other hand, there are those who take it for granted that their lifestyle justifies gas expenditures. People put many miles on their vehicles quickly in this area because of the wide open spaces. Just driving around town, you can use up a lot of gas in one day. People are sweating it to keep these large vehicles running and the whole way of life that goes with them. Many of us could probably use a truck or SUV (they are handy) but it is suggested we use them as second vehicles whenever possible, keeping them for special projects. The rest of the time, people probably should be driving smaller fuel efficient cars. San Juan County probably could learn from most of Europe or other parts of the country in this matter. Being connected to the oil and gas industry seems to encourage a mindset for privilege in terms of gas consumption. In addition, the dirt roads prevalent on reservations and in areas with ranching, agricultural or other country property also create mindsets for larger vehicles, usually 4x4’s. The dirt roads around the cities do create a need for 4x4’s because of the ruts, sand, clay and mud, but we can still argue that many people in the area could be using smaller fuel efficient cars as part of their normal routines around town and on the paved highways.