APRIL, 2015

Rachel Conn
Rachel Conn, 
Interim Executive Director 

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Cisco Guevara, 2015
Cisco Guevara, 
President of the Board of Directors

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Casa Baca

Contact Info

Amigos Bravos
P. O. Box 238
105-A Quesnel St.
Taos, NM 87571


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Shannon Romeling
Shannon Romeling, Projects & Communications Coordinator

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We value your
regarding all aspects
of our work !

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Snowflower Romero
Snowflower Romero, Membership Assistant

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Would you like to
support the 
of the cultural and
ecological richness
New Mexico's

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Christian LeJeune
Christian LeJeune, 
Urban Waters Coordinator

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Join our efforts
by becoming a
or making a
contribution to
Amigos Bravos

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Given that 90% of New Mexican's rely on ground water for drinking water, the connection between massive amounts of unregulated dairy manure, fragile groundwater, and surface water pollution is a serious threat to public health.
On the Federal Front: 
In early March, a coalition of eight local, state, and national organizations, including Amigos Bravos, called on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 6, Water Quality Protection Division (EPA), to increase its involvement in controlling the environmental and community health impacts of New Mexico's dairy industry. Amigos Bravos and collaborators submitted scientific, technical, and legal comments on EPA's proposed federal Clean Water Act General Permit for New Mexico's "concentrated animal feeding operations" - known by the acronym "CAFOs" - to encourage direct action for improving regulation of the industry. The  federal General Permit regulates how CAFOs operate, including regulations set to prevent manure from polluting local and regional water sources. 

On the State Front: 
On Monday, April 6, the New Mexico Water Quality Control Commission (WQCC), declared support for a settlement between the Citizen's Dairy Coalition, the dairy industry, the New Mexico Attorney General, and the New Mexico Environment Department. The settlement retains some of the protections in New Mexico's current, unenforced Dairy Rule and is less threatening to our drinking water than the industry's original proposed amendments. The changes requested by Amigos Bravos and other Coalition members were the basis of the settlement. The WQCC will vote on the settlement at their May meeting in Santa Fe. Watch for Amigos Bravos' email Action-Alerts on how you can participate!

According to U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics, New Mexico is the ninth largest producer of dairy manure in the nation. The state's 355,000 dairy cows produce the same amount of waste as more than 58 million people per year. Put another way, "The dairy cows in New Mexico produce the same amount of waste as that produced by all of the people in California and Texas combined," says Rachel Conn, Interim Executive Director of Amigos Bravos. Given that 90% of New Mexicans rely on ground water for drinking water, the connection between massive amounts of unregulated dairy cow manure, fragile groundwaters, and surface water pollution is a serious threat to public health.

Currently, the EPA's permitting program only regulates 22 of New Mexico's more than 200 CAFO dairies, leaving approximately 90% of the state's CAFO dairy animal waste unregulated. The proposed new permit is expected to increase the number of regulated dairies to just 25. Furthermore, New Mexico's mega-dairies are three times greater than the EPA's standard definition of a "large" CAFO, making the state's dairy CAFOs, on average, excessively large, both in scale and in the amount of pollution they produce. 

New Mexico's own data shows that nearly 60% of the state's dairies are groundwater polluters that raise nitrate levels in local drinking water and threaten long-term environmental damage that puts public health at risk across the state. 

"Whether they know it or not, the people of New Mexico are losing their health, living standards, and lifestyles to the dirty and dangerous advance of industrial-size dairy facilities," says Dan Lorimier of the Sierra Club. "The EPA needs to get off the sidelines and issue a federal permit that protects the land, resources, and citizen's of this state before the damage cannot be undone." 

In addition to Amigos Bravos, members of the Citizen's Dairy Coalition include the Sierra Club, New Mexico Environmental Law Center, citizens who live near dairies, and - leading the charge - Socially Responsible Agricultural Project (SRAP). 

A copy of the coalition's submission, Public Comments on EPA Region 6's Draft National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System General Permit for Discharges from Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations in New Mexico, is available on request. 

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razor blades   paul bauer photo
Upper Rio Grande, Photo Credit: Paul Bauer

Did you ever wish you could accompany the Rio Grande on its journey from Colorado through New Mexico to Mexico?

Thanks to a Las Cruces Democrat, State Representative Jeff Steinborn, who sponsored the Rio Grande Trail bill, you are one step closer to enjoying that adventure. During the recent contentious legislative session, the Rio Grande Trail Bill received wide support from both parties and was signed by the Governor, creating a commission to study a possible route. The river trail commission will be composed of representatives from tribes, land and river advocates, local, state, and federal governments, and other groups. The commission will look at existing trails along the river and how they might be linked, while supporters will be able to lobby for money to build sections of the trail. 

"We hope the commission will take into account all of the incredible opportunities, as well as the risks of a Rio Grande Trail," commented Rachel Conn, the Interim Director of Amigos Bravos. "There are incredible recreational and educational opportunities and opportunities to increase environmental stewardship. At the same time, there are potential risks in that we have a very wild, untrammeled river -- especially in the northern portion -- and Amigos Bravos has concerns about how to preserve those values. I hope the Commission will be comprehensive in the issues they consider."  

According to Staci Matlock, of the New Mexican,"The Rio Grande Trail might eventually hug the 50-mile long Rio Grande Gorge in Northern New Mexico, a rift valley plunging 800 feet that was created millions of years ago..Big horn sheep, river otters [ ! ], and the Rio Grande cutthroat trout are among the wildlife species living in the gorge." She goes on to comment, "Piecing together the Rio Grande Trail might take years...Negotiations between all the entities will take time, and money will need to be collected for the project before a continuous trail is established for hikers, mountain bikers, horseback riders, and sightseers." 
At Amigos Bravos we intend to do what we can to make sure they do it right!

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