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6 • NOVEMBER 2017

Letters to the Editor

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Mass Killings can be Stopped

Protecting the State’s Water

EDITOR, The gun lobby and their political supporters (primarily Republicans) are at it again. They say that during a crisis like the Las Vegas shooting, is not the time to consider any type of gun regulation. If not now than when — oh I forgot — when the news cycle goes to another topic. As Senator Chris Murphy from Connecticut recently said, “we’re the only developed country that has massive, execution style shootings — Sandy Hook, Charleston, Orlando and now Las Vegas.” Why shouldn’t every gun sale be registered? Than when someone who buys over 40 guns — which the shooter at Las Vegas did — it would raise suspicion by police. I lived in Australia for 1/2 a year in 2000. They had what they called the Port Arthur mass murder of 35 people in 1996 by a single individual and within a year changed their laws on gun ownership. It banned automatic and semi-automatic weapons, adopted new licensing requirements, and established a national firearms registry. It also had a buy-back program for handguns. One of the supporters of this legislation said—”We register cars, we register boats, and we even register dogs — so what is the problem with registering guns?” Between 1995 and 2006, gun related homicides and suicides in the country dropped by 59% and 65% respectfully. There also has been no mass killings. As the NRA says--we have the 2nd Amendment which allows civilian to bear arms. We have allowed the NRA and its supporters to interpret those 30 words, which by many readers of that amendment could mean a civilian militia — rather than individuals. Whatever the interpretation, it doesn’t mean we can’t stop selling conversion kits that allowed the mass murderer in Las Vegas from turning regular rifles into military weapons — killing many innocent people. When can we have a sensible discussion about how to prevent these mass killings? Paul O’ Connell Las Cruces

EDITOR, To say that the New Mexico Environmental Law Center is an asset to the State is an understatement. The NMELC is an advocate for all that makes New Mexico a wonderful place to live: healthy communities, a well-functioning environment, social and environmental justice. The NMELC represents those who have no other advocate, levelling the playing field so that ordinary citizens have a chance to prevail against odds that are stacked against them. Here in the Augustin Plains, for example, we face an international corporation with deep pockets that is intent on mining water from an aquifer of fossil water that sustains the residents and the economy of Catron County, an aquifer that cannot recover from the massive pumping and transporting of water that is proposed. The NMELC has steadfastly supported and represented this community, opposing the wealthy investors who are capable of hiring a large array of attorneys, all of them trying to convince the state that mining water in our basin will be good for the state. NMELC has provided, and continues to provide, critically important support to our community. With the help of the NMELC, the project has been rejected twice by the Office of the State Engineer and those decisions have been upheld by the court upon appeal. The NMELC continues to guide our community and the two organizations (San Augustin Water Coalition and the Augustin Plains Challenge) fighting this water grab attempt, providing advice for direction and strategy. The project of the Augustin Plains Ranch LLC would, if approved, pump 54,000 acre-feet of water (17 billion gallons) per year from the aquifer, put that water in a pipeline and ship it to the Albuquerque area. The application for this project does not state a “beneficial use” in the form of an end user, and it is impossible to tell to whom this water will eventually be sold. This amount of pumping from the aquifer would

deplete it in a finite amount of time, and the people here in Catron County would be left literally “high and dry”. To our community this project makes no sense unless the profit of an international corporation is all that matters. Our organization, the Augustin Plains Challenge, is determined to make sure that decision-makers know that a lot matters besides lining corporate investors’ pockets. This project jeopardizes the viability of a thriving ranching community. NMELC stands on the front line with us, helping to safeguard our future. In a related case, the Santolina planned community, the NMELC has supported those who find such a large-scale development out of proportion to the needs of the Albuquerque area. The SouthWest Organizing Project has opposed this development, and the Augustin Plains Challenge opposes this project as well. There are indications that the water from the Augustin Plains basin will be the source of water for this development, and two bad projects do not combine to make one good project. With the help of the NMELC, decision-makers will be persuaded to deny both these proposals. The rules of the process established by the Office of the State Engineer and the intricacies of water law, leave the ordinary citizen in an untenable position if left to his/her own resources. None of us as individuals can adequately defend ourselves in such a complex case, and we have banded together to form an organization that will support the Law Center that supports us in our effort to stop this proposed project. Should the project be approved, that approval would set the stage for such projects across the state, and rural communities would find themselves fighting similar battles. It is of the utmost importance to keep the New Mexico Environmental Law Center alive and vibrant, giving our communities a fighting chance to preserve our water which will by extension preserve our culture, our way of life, our economy, and the environment, which, indeed, makes all life possible. Carol Pittman Catron County

December Deadlines

Mon., November 6, noon: Space reservation and ad copy due

Tues., November 7, noon: All stories and notices for the editorial section

I F Y O U H AV E A N Y Q U E S T I O N S , P L E A S E C O N T A C T: EDITOR Elva K. Österreich 575-680-1978

DISTRIBUTION Teresa Tolonen 575-680-1841

SALES COORDINATOR SILVER CITY SALES MANAGER Pam Rossi Ilene Wignall 575-635-6614 575-313-0002

Desert Exposure - November 2017