After announcement of the ground rules, Clark informed us that there would be a presentation by Pacer Energy employees, questions to them from the ten-member Steering Committee, followed by questions from the floor, introduction of the electeds or candidates in attendance, the reading of a statement from Santa Fe County Commissioner Kathy Hollian, who unfortunately for all was in California caring for her ailing mother, and a discussion of possible courses of action including the pursuit of a legal injunction against Pacer, et.al.
Devil take me if Pacer Energy didn't send a couple of know-nothing reps, who by their own admission were “shanghaied into coming to the meeting at the last minute,” to not answer the many astute questions asked by members of the outraged and ultra organized Lamy, Galisteo, and El Dorado voting blocs. These communities, and all the rest of us up and down the 285 corridor, were there en force, united by a deep and urgent feeling to protect our watershed from Oil & Gas at all costs.
What the Pacer grunts didn't know about what headquarters had cooked up for us could fill several blogposts.
They weren't privy to the business terms of the deal, they weren't certain of the number of trucks that could eventually routinely be deployed to our area, they couldn't even be sure of the proposed hours of operation--daylight hours at first, they thought, but that could change to 24/7. Storage tanks weren't likely to be placed at Lamy but couldn't be ruled out, and no, they didn't know why Pacer had not asked to meet with the affected community. The effects of idling trucks, air and noise pollution were quantified thusly: "could be a bit of a nuisance."
The Pacer duo also didn't know the dollar amount of the anticipated profits for one-year's operation, how much it would cost to place the facility at their Plan B elsewhere location; they were not informed as to the present condition of the railroad tracks--that would be a question for Santa Fe Southern. They couldn't comment on issues of liability, insurance coverages, other than to say: "I know we have some." Nor could they remark on how property values would be affected in the area, how owners could be compensated for losses to those values, or what the safety risks would be in case of flooding during monsoon season.
Not ten miles from my casita, on the road to Lamy where 50-100 double tanker trucks, weekly, each weighing 80,000 pounds fully-loaded are proposed to transport crude oil.
Where the historic protest meeting in Lamy was held.
The overflow crowd filled this hall and an adjoining room.
The meeting was exceedingly well run, many voices were heard.
Our two Pacer boyz, with nametags a'blazin!
I wonder if they ever looked up to see where they were?
According to the paper in Albuquerque
, the body count at Legal Tender protesting the proposed invasion by oil and gas was numbered at 275. Among us were skilled geo-hydrologists and seasoned water-protection activists with abundant expertise to bring to bear to this serious threat to our bio-region. The nomenclature of engineering sussurated throughout the Q&A—tonnage, stress, road degradation, black ice, hazmat incidents, permeable soil, irreplaceable natural resources, etc.
But after all the brilliant and incisive questions were asked (not a ding-a-ling among them), and the many near incoherent utterances of "don't know," "have to check," "we'll get back to you on that," "not sure," "hard to say," and out-and-out silence were given--the inescapable conclusion was simply this:
Spills, accidents and wrecks are inevitable. With Lamy's community well head only 109 feet from the proposed crude oil transfer site, our aquifer is vulnerable.
Even while the heaviness of our situation was settling upon us, as we each struggled with this new proposed reality being foisted upon us, a bit of radical relief was fortunately on the way. Former elementary school teacher Rainy Upton rocked the casbah when she coolly asked the Pacer stooges in the same measured cadences with which she might totally devastate a couple of misbehaving third-graders: “Why did you come here looking for trouble?”
Upton's question was like a refreshing rain falling on a community in the process of being seriously shit upon, and it was a welcome, cleansing rain. The pathetic, almost pitiable, response from Pacer? "Um. Uh. That's a good question. We asked that ourselves. We're not looking for trouble. It's a hard question to answer. We don't have an answer."
Moments later, and even with the pointed reminders from our facilitators to remain civil, and notwithstanding the presence of a couple of armed law-enforcement personnel standing by (!) inside the meeting hall (!!), local democracy, that ole messy thang so loathed by oligarchs and plutocrats alike, was spontaneously, anarchically asserted. After a bellyful of Pacer's biz development lingo—“cost-effectiveness,” “path of least resistance,” and pointless repetition of the totally banal phrase “best practices”—we took a vote, an impromptu one. With quiet fury, the man directly behind me rose and demanded of the crowd: “Anyone want
this?” Nary a hand was raised, to which he thundered: “Nobody
It was a rare public moment of pure, unanimous, absolute consensus, charged with all the fervor and frustration that a collective act of withholding assent in no uncertain terms can muster.
This is the landscape at risk. We have so precious little water.