Over the past several months, many residents of Mountainair and surrounding areas have held meetings, done research and called their representatives in an attempt to stop Kinder Morgan from building a carbon dioxide pipeline across the region.
So it came as quite a shock when they heard the Mountainair Town Council was considering approving a resolution in support of the Lobos pipeline at Tuesday’s meeting. The resolution was tabled until the July 1 meeting.
Kinder Morgan had sent the resolution to the town on June 13. It states “whereas applicable local taxing bodies will benefit from the property tax revenue the Lobos pipeline will generate; and whereas the Lobos pipeline project will provide numerous economic benefits for the Town of Mountainair, including increasing revenues to local restaurants, businesses, and retailers from patronage by construction crews.”
The resolution does not allow or disallow the pipeline.
“All it is, is a resolution,” Mayor Chester Riley said. “We don’t pass nothing – anything that has to be passed is up to Torrance County. If Kinder Morgan comes through, we’ll support them as long as they get everything done right. This little town would like the revenue.”
Kinder Morgan has a couple of proposed routes for the 220-mile pipeline from Apache County, Ariz., to Torrance County and asked for easements on private, federal, state, county and tribal lands last summer.
The Bureau of Land Management plans to release an environmental impact statement late this year on what effect the pipeline would have on land it would cross. Many private landowners in Torrance, Valencia, Socorro and Catron counties have said they do not want the pipeline on their land at all, but the final route designation is pending the EIS.
Councilor Barbara Chung said her constituents oppose the pipeline’s construction, and she advised the council to find out more about the project.
“What do we get from passing the resolution?” she asked. “What do we get when a roomful of people are shaking their head at me? They’re going to do that (bring revenue to town businesses or hire local construction workers) anyway if they need to. I’m not against the pipeline, but given the substantial community resistance, why should we pass the resolution?”
Members of “Resistiendo: Resist the Kinder Morgan CO2 Pipeline!” packed the town council meeting to the 43-person capacity to reiterate its opposition to the project on the basis of erosion to the lands, roads, wildlife, cultural resources and water.
“We question whether the few short-term economic benefits to the town would outweigh the disadvantages, risks and costs from the CO2 pipeline cutting across our environment, destroying Native American and Hispanic heritage, our health and safety for a new industrial corridor,” according to a statement distributed by the group. “We are a rural community and we depend upon our land, our underground water, and our unique setting for our livelihoods and for the continued well-being of our families.”