MISSION: Southwest Research and Information Center is a multi-cultural organization working to promote the health of people and communities, protect natural resources, ensure citizen participation, and secure environmental and social justice now and for future generations

Executive Order a Step Toward Healthier Communities

New Mexico recently took a step toward healthier communities when Governor Bill Richardson signed the executive order on environmental justice. This order affirms our right to live in a clean and healthy community. The Executive Order recognizes the existence of environmental injustice within the state of New Mexico which disproportionately impacts people of color and low-income communities.

This Executive Order is the result of the hard work of people and organizations across the state demanding action to fix the problems caused by pollution in their communities. Last year environmental justice listening sessions were held in Las Vegas, Deming, Acoma Pueblo and Albuquerque. The resounding theme was the right of the community to be involved in the decision-making process, and that the health and safety of our communities comes before profits.

Many people of color and low-income families live next door to more polluters than anyone else in our country. Often times, these are the communities that act as the canaries in the coal mine for many of the pollutants that we know very little about.

There are real people behind these statistics. And real diseases.

Many of our neighbors and family members, especially our children and elders, become sick with cancers, leukemia and asthma because the chemicals we are exposed to are bad for our health. These are not only chemicals that we breathe, they are also in the water we drink and the food we eat.

Common sense tells us that polluting facilities should not be allowed near places like homes, schools, community centers, and churches. When polluters break the law, they should be punished so it doesn't happen again. They should also be required to pay the cost of cleaning up when they contaminate our air, water and soil.

We all deserve choices that promote clean jobs and a safe environment, not take it or leave it ultimatums from polluters in the name of economic development. We must consider the impact our decisions and practices have on future generations.

The executive order will establish a task force comprised of representatives of various state government departments. We hope this process will ensure that the health and environment of New Mexicans is a top priority rather than a feel good measure. Residents of New Mexico deserve action as well as nice words. Governor Richardson and the New Mexico Environment Department should implement the executive order by providing leadership to all agencies of the state of New Mexico when making decisions which impact our communities.

Pollution knows no boundaries. It is critical we set limits and involve communities in decision making. The executive order is a step toward ensuring that all communities regardless of race, ethnicity or income level have a right to a safe and clean environment to live, work, play, study and pray.

Environmental Justice Executive Order 2005-056

The Southwest Network New Mexico Environmental Justice Working Group is comprised of the following organizations: Colonias Development Council, Concerned Citizens of Wagon Mound and Mora County, Kalpulli Izkalli, Laguna-Acoma Coalition for a Safe Environment, SAGE Council, SWOP, the New Mexico Environmental Law Center, and the Southwest Research and Information Center.

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“In a market economy, private investors are the ultimate arbiter of what energy technologies can compete and yield reliable profits, so to understand nuclear power's prospects, just follow the money. Private investors have flatly rejected nuclear power but enthusiastically bought its main supply-side competitors decentralized cogeneration and renewables. Worldwide, by the end of 2004, these supposedly inadeqaute alternatives had more installed capacity than nuclear, produced 92 percent as much electricity, and were growing 5.9 times faster and accelerating, while nuclear was fading.”
—Amory B. Lovins "Competitors To Nuclear: Eat My Dust"
RMI Solutions, Fall 2005

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