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Saturday, June 15, 2024

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The Supreme Court throws out a Trump-era ban on gun bump stocks; a look at how social media algorithms and Shakespearian villains have in common; and states receive federal funding to clean up legacy mine pollution.

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The Supreme Court for now protects access to abortion drug mifepristone, while Senate Republicans block a bill protecting access to in-vitro fertilization. Wisconsin's Supreme Court bans mobile voting sites, and colleges deal with funding cuts as legislatures target diversity programs.

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As summer nears, America's newest and largest international dark sky sanctuary beckons, rural job growth is up, but full recovery remains elusive, rural Americans living in prison towns support a transition, while birth control is more readily available in rural areas.

NM officials press for setbacks amid pushback from oil and gas industry

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Thursday, April 25, 2024   

New Mexico members of the group Elected Officials to Protect America are renewing their call for rules regulating how close fossil fuel companies can operate near schools and other public places after legislation failed to pass earlier this year.

Rep. Tara Lujan, D-Santa Fe, said industrial oil and gas wells are operating just feet from homes, schools and hospitals, increasing community health risks from well-known toxins.

"Some here in New Mexico have been devastated because of types of energy incentives that have affected their land, their culture, their way of life and have taken away their lives," Lujan asserted.

Instead of passing buffer-zone legislation this year, the Legislature directed a state agency to study the risks to the environment and human health of being close to oil and gas facilities. California passed legislation to ban wells within 3,200 feet of schools but it is on hold pending the November election when the industry hopes voters will overturn it.

Rep. Debbie Sariñana, D-Albuquerque, is one of 18 state lawmakers who are members of the Elected Officials group. While recognizing revenues from extraction greatly benefit the state, she said there is no reason adults and children should be getting sick from the byproducts.

"We know that living near oil and gas wells increases the risk of cancer, asthma and upper respiratory problems," Sariñana pointed out. "There are over 32,000 children attending schools within a mile of an oil and gas extraction site."

Stephanie Garcia Richard, commissioner of public lands, is leading an effort to hold the industry accountable for the state's 1,700 abandoned wells. The unplugged wells are located on state and privately owned land with still more on federal and tribal lands.

"If those oil and gas wells needed to be properly plugged, we put the onus on the oil and gas industry to plug those wells properly on their own dimes," Richard stressed. "Because those abandoned and orphaned gas wells are sometimes the worst offenders of emissions out in the oil field."

Disclosure: Elected Officials to Protect America contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Energy Policy, and Public Lands/Wilderness. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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