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Senator Bingaman and Commissioner Montoya

I want to thank each and every member of the RACHC who came to the March meeting to get to know me. I enjoyed answering your many questions about health care.

It has taken me some time, but I’ve even learned to use your blog in order to continue our dialogue. See, you can teach an old perro new tricks!

I would like to be the one to announce, in response to your request, that the Rio Arriba Board of County Commissioners will be supporting the work of the health council with seed money in the upcoming fiscal year. It won’t replace the zeroing out of health council funding by the Department of Health, but it will enable you to continue the outstanding work you have been doing.

Several nights ago, I had the opportunity to speak to the League of Women Voters in Los Alamos. Many questions were asked about water and the environment. While I did not have the opportunity to speak with the RACHC about Rio Arriba’s water resources, I realize that the issue is important to your membership. I would like to share some of my thoughts with you now.

I initially decided to run for State Senate because, as a five-term commissioner of Rio Arriba County, I grew frustrated by the legislature’s unwillingness to confront monied interests on issues such as hydraulic fracturing (or fracking) that threaten our regional groundwater supply and our pristine wilderness and agricultural lands. Candidate campaign reports for all individuals running for office in our community including my own can be found on the Secretary of State’s website. (You are all excellent researchers and you produce many excellent reports comparing the quality of services in Rio Arriba with those in other counties. I encourage you to critically examine the finances of those who seek to represent you as well.)

Don’t get me wrong! I am in favor of economic development. I will do whatever I can to promote our regional economy, but not at the expense of our most valuable resource: water.

I believe that elected representatives are public servants, and that our first duty is to our constituents who trust us with their votes. I do not accept donations from out-of-state corporations. For this reason, I have consistently fought powerful interests such as the Oil and Gas industry, land developers, and even the State Engineer to protect precious local resources. This is why you have voted me into office five times, and why I am able to finance my run for Senate entirely through small donations from local supporters.

The gas and oil industry attempted to drill in Rio Arriba’s pristine and important watersheds that produce much of the potable water flowing through the Rio Chama and Rio Grande, and to frak in our county in order to extract even larger amounts of oil and gas. My colleagues and I on the Board of County Commissioners immediately imposed a moratorium on drilling, and subsequently developed a gas and oil ordinance allowing for drilling under strict conditions, prohibiting fracking in Rio Arriba, and prohibiting drilling in environmentally sensitive locations.

I have been adamant about requiring proof of water rights ownership before approving any large subdivisions. Developers are required to work with the Commission to implement water conservation measures before any building plans can be approved. I am extremely cognizant of the scarcity of water and have worked diligently to control wasteful practices. I’ve encouraged farmers and ranchers to develop water conservation measures as a part of their agricultural practice.

I, along with my colleagues on the Commission, have gone up against the Office of the State Engineer to challenge water transfer regulations in an effort to curtail large water right transfers from our shared multi-county region in northern New Mexico to metropolitan areas in the central and southern part of the state.

I have championed efforts to protect the quality of life of northern New Mexico residents by sponsoring and approving ordinances on such topics as prohibitions against clear-cutting, as well as ordinances that address cell tower proliferation, mining and billboards.

I have served on my community’s acequia commission for most of my adult life, and have served on the  NM Acequia Association for more than a decade, in addition to serving as president of my community’s mutual domestic water association. I wear my passion for protecting our most precious resources on my sleeve, and have extensive experience addressing local and state water issues.

Help me to continue to fight on your behalf for clean, unpolluted, drinkable water!

Thank you!

1 Response » to “Commissioner Montoya Speaks Out about Water”

  1. Leah Hoffman says:

    This is my first time to this website. I came here looking for the RACHC’s position on hydrofracking in Rio Arriba County – particularly Northern R.A. -
    and found this posted by Commissioner Montoya. I know this was his stance a year ago. I would like to know where the commissioners stand NOW on this issue. From where I sit it sure looks like hydrofracking is being ushered into my village! The proposed amendments to the existing Oil and Gas regulations have been tabled. The Director of Community/Economic Development in the Planning and Zoning department, Patricio Garcia, has been fired and his position transfered to the County Manager’s office. Our community liason for the oil and gas issues in the P&Z, Ben Singer, has also been fired.

    It doesn’t look good to me.

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