Civil Rights Complaint Prompts EPA Investigation In Albuquerque

Air pollution permits issued by the City of Albuquerque in Bernalillo County's South Valley

Air pollution permits issued by the City of Albuquerque. San Jose is just west of I-25 and south of Bridge St. Head to publichealthnm.org for the full interactive map.

  • Ed Williams
  • Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced it’s opening a civil rights investigation into Albuquerque and Bernalillo County air pollution policies.

Many of Bernalillo County’s polluting industries lie next to residential neighborhoods in the South Valley. Residents there have long complained of illnesses from air pollution, and have asked the city and county to change their air permitting processes to no avail.

“This is something that the communities have identified for many years, and now, finally, the federal government at least has decided it’s worth taking a look at,” said Eric Jantz, attorney for the New Mexico Environmental Law Center. They filed a complaint on behalf of residents alleging Albuquerque and Bernalillo County air pollution laws unfairly discriminate against low-income people of color. Jantz says the investigation is the first of its kind in New Mexico.

Depending on the investigation’s findings, the EPA could force the city to change its air pollution policies. Or the feds could withhold the tens of millions of dollars the city gets from the EPA for air pollution programs.

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