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Welcome to the new way a developer tries to game the system

Santolina developers try to disconnect land use from water

In the 1990s, Bernalillo County adopted an ordinance that lays out very specific requirements for developers seeking to build master-planned communities. Key among them are rules that developers must show that they have both “wet” water and water rights for their projects.

It just makes sense that massive proposed developments like Santolina (which promises housing for 90,000 people and industry for 75,000 jobs) should have to demonstrate that they have adequate amounts water for these new communities.

But guess what…

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05/09/2017 • Back to top


Taking on a Global Problem …right here in New Mexico

Water speculators meet stiff resistance from the Law Center

Multinational corporations are working across the world to speculate in and privatize water supplies; despite strong laws and policies preventing speculation in New Mexico, water rights developers are eying our aquifers with a focus on profit.

But they’re having a tough time succeeding with the Law Center in their way.

Case in point: last month, Staff Attorney Jon Block and volunteer attorney Paul Hultin asked a state District Court to throw out a water grab case in the East Mountains of Albuquerque.

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05/09/2017 • Back to top


Residents Expand Fight Against Water Speculation in East Mountains

SANTA FE, N.M. – Residents of the communities in the East Mountains of Albuquerque, NM, have asked a judge to compel disclosure of the attorneys’ fees and costs of Aquifer Science, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of water development company PICO Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ: PICO) that seeks to obtain water rights in the East Mountains.

The non-profit New Mexico Environmental Law Center (NMELC) filed the motion for its clients—Deep Well Protest, San Pedro Creek Estates, and North 14—asserting that the fees and costs highlight the fact that PICO and its shell companies Vidler New Mexico and Campbell Farming Corporation (the owners of Aquifer Science) are merely water speculators with no real plan to put the water to beneficial use.

Go to case page.

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04/18/2017 • Back to top


Residents Fight Water Speculation in East Mountains

“Water is life, especially here in the high desert country, and allowing water speculators to grab our precious resources is something we all must work hard to prevent.” Jonathan Block, NMELC

SANTA FE, N.M. – Residents of the communities in the East Mountains of Albuquerque, NM, have asked a judge to throw out an appeal filed by Aquifer Science, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of water development company PICO Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ: PICO) that seeks to obtain water rights in the East Mountains.

A motion for summary judgment filed by the non-profit New Mexico Environmental Law Center (NMELC) for its clients—Deep Well Protest, San Pedro Creek Estates, and North 14—asserts that the application should be thrown out on the grounds that PICO and its shell companies Vidler New Mexico and Campbell Farming Corporation (the owners of Aquifer Science) are merely water speculators with no real a plan to put the water to beneficial use.

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04/18/2017 • Back to top


Albuquerque Air Quality Board Upholds Polluting Permit

…should the Air Quality Act be interpreted in order to protect the people who live around these facilities or should the act be interpreted as a way to issue air pollution permits as quickly as possible?” Eric Jantz, Staff Attorney

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Yesterday, the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Air Quality Board unanimously voted to deny an appeal of an air pollution permit issued to Honstein Oil & Distributing, LLC. The Honstein facility is located near homes in the San Jose neighborhood in the South Valley of Albuquerque and holds a 6,000 gallon gasoline storage tank. The facility is one of many polluting facilities found in the South Valley, a community recognized by the US EPA as an “Environmental Justice community”.

The appeal was brought by the public-interest law firm New Mexico Environmental Law Center (NMELC) for Southwest Organizing Project (SWOP) and San Jose residents Esther and Steven Abeyta. The appeal stated the Air Quality Board had failed to assess actual, cumulative air pollution impacts upon the people who live in San Jose neighborhood when it granted the air pollution permit. It also failed to uphold its mandate under the New Mexico Air Quality Control Act to “prevent or abate air pollution.”

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04/13/2017 • Back to top


Sprawling Santolina, Chapter 2

With your support, Law Center Attorneys Jaimie Park and Doug Meiklejohn and our clients have begun a new fight in the case to protect water and taxpayer dollars from the proposed 90,000-person Santolina mega-development slated for the west side of Albuquerque.

Santolina Level B.1 Master Plan Public Hearing:

When: April 4 at 5 PM
Where: Vincent Griego Room, Bottom level City/County Administration Bldg,
1 Civic Plaza NW, Albuquerque, 87102-9854 (map)
*Sign up online before 3 PM on April 4 to speak.*

As you may have predicted, the system is once again breaking down.

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04/03/2017 • Back to top


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