Thursday, January 20, 2011

Speak Up to Protect Community Rights--Albuquerque Journal

January 16, 2011
By Kathleen Dudley And Theresa Hamrich

Many of us are not accustomed to reading state or local law or involving ourselves in governmental decision-making. Our time is spent working, taking care of our families, our land, ourselves. There is little time left over to read laws that will affect our lives directly, and the lives of the people we love. But today, more than ever, we must take our role as citizens seriously and act to protect our rights so that we do not wake up one day and find that the good water, air and land in Mora County has been "taken" from us due to our ignorance or lack of action.

As New Mexicans, we have rights, but they are weak, like a muscle that has not been exercised. We know from reports across the country that our environment is under siege as a result of corporate development — sewage sludge, landfills, factory farming, natural gas and coal extraction, massive water withdrawals to name but a few.

We only need to look a short distance to the devastation in San Juan County and recall the statements made by ranchers Chris Velasquez and Gilbert Armenta. After 60 years, their local, self-sufficient, land-based economy is but a shadow of its former self due to oil and natural gas extraction. "Wake-up, Mora County, before it is too late" is Armenta's plea to the citizens in Mora County. Velasquez told the people, "Once they start their engines, it is all over.".....continued.....