January 17, 2004
|In this issue|
Typos that make you go "Huh?"
Fugitive Dust Fee Structure Passes
Fun Things to do January 10 - 18
Typos that make you go "Huh"?
The problem with putting out any publication is that typos invariably creep in. Most make me cringe when I see them later, but one I just saw from last week's letter made me laugh, because it must have made a lot of you go,
As you know I am in my "505 by 2/29" drive to get more readers to this list. In my exhortation to get your friends signed up, I wrote this:
Have your friends sign up at www.HorsemensVoice.com. Be sure to tell them that you referred them.
But I meant to say, this:
Have your friends sign up at www.HorsemensVoice.com. Be sure to tell them to tell me that you referred them.
So, I imagined one of you writing a friend:
There's this really great newsletter. The guy who writes it is really funny and smart. His witty style always makes me laugh, and everything he writes is interesting and very informative...
OK. So maybe that's not how it goes. Maybe it goes more like this:
I get this e-mail newsletter in my in box each week. If I bother to look at it at all, it sometimes it has some mildly amusing or sort of interesting articles. I just happened to see that they want more readers. So, go to www.HorsemensVoice.com to sign up if you want to.
And just so you know, I referred you.
So, yes, Folks, even though I am witty and urbane, suave and intelligent, I do sometimes make mistakes.
Those of you who just signed up this week are probably saying, "Huh? What have I gotten myself into? Why did my 'friend' refer me to this? And why did she want to make sure I knew she was the one who referred me?"
I told two different people on Friday that I wouldn't have time for silliness today because I have lots to say about Fugitive Dust. But look what I got myself into.
Fugitive Dust Fee Structure Passes
On Wednesday afternoon, I attended the Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Air Quality Control Board meeting where there was discussion of the fees structure for the Fugitive Dust. It was a lively and interesting meeting. Several horse owners spoke against the program, and but it was too little too late to change the board's collective mind. The new fee structure was approved.
This Fugitive Dust program was created to make sure that Albuquerque and Bernalillo County stay in compliance with EPA standards of PM10, or Coarse Particulate Matter 10 microns or less. In New Mexico, this means dust. Fugitive Dust is created when wind picks up dirt from a property and the dust becomes airborne. The theory behind the program is that by issuing permits to people who create the dust, and giving them a financial incentive to reduce the amount of dust fleeing from their property, the total amount of dust in the air will be reduced. The income from these permits will be used to enforce the EPA rules already on the books, plus put together educational programs to educate people about the problems of dust and how to reduce it.
The Fugitive Dust program was brought into existence with a vote by the AQCB, but the fee structure was not settled. The horse community became aware of the program after it was created, but before the fee structure was set. With our input, the fee structure has been changed. Originally there was a $300 filing fee plus a per acre sliding scale fee according to the amount of dust produced. The filing fee was eliminated because it put an undue burden on smaller land owners. The Fees Task Force, of which I was a member, decided that if the filing fee were eliminated, the base per acre fee would be $130. Since the Task Force met, more sources of dust have been identified, so the cost can be spread out, and the base fee is reduced to $110.
These new regulations affect anyone with 3/4 acre or more of disturbed land that produces dust. If your land is a high impact producer of dust, you would pay 90% of the baseline, or $99 per acre per year. A moderate producer would pay 50%, or $55 per acre. A low impact acre would cost 10% of the baseline, or $11 per year. Acreage that is deemed to not have any dust impact would be exempt and pay no fees at all.
My take on Fugitive Dust
Since I have been in the middle of this issue since August, I have learned a lot of things about dust and the environment. A lot of people have asked a lot of questions, and I will try to answer them in a Q&A format next week. However, before I do that, I want to make clear my stance on this whole issue.
Even though I participated on the Fees Task Force, I do not like the whole idea of this Fugitive Dust program. While the intent is good, and I believe the Air Quality board really wants to reduce the dust in our air shed, it is unfortunate that equestrian activities and lands are included in the program.
We are really lucky to live in a state where it's easy to ride our horses almost anywhere, and that includes in the Albuquerque metro area. Some of the most wonderful rides I have had have been along the bosque of the Rio Grande in late fall or early winter. The conservancy district lands that border the river are a treasure for equestrians, and it's a real treat to be able to ride practically right in the middle of the city. There aren't many places that are like that. I have heard that there are more horses in Corrales than there are people. People who buy land in Corrales are required to sign a paper that says they know that there are horses around, and they won't complain about them.
But the forces of urbanization are pushing the equestrian community out of the city and county. The zoning commission tried to pass laws limiting the number of livestock on land outside the city limits. We fought against that and won. Developers in Corrales recently asked to have a subdivision where horses could be excluded. We lost that fight. The city fines us for using too much water to keep our pastures green. And now the Fugitive Dust program adds one more cost to having horses in the county. It's another force toward pushing us out.
Unlike a junk yard or an unused vacant lot, we can't pave over our corrals to stop the dust. Our horse's feet would be ruined in a very short time. While the conservancy district or PNM can close of vehicular access to their roads and rights of way and allow the vegetation to grow back, it's really hard to keep enough vegetation on a pasture to keep the dust down, especially in this drought.
And I think the county will be worse off when the horses are gone. As horse properties and farms disappear and are replaced by tract housing, the city will be more crowded and, probably, more polluted. As the city gobbles up the green areas, it will be a less pleasant place to live. That's really unfortunate.
On the other hand...
We do have a dust problem. And, contrary to what many people think, it's not just because we live in the desert. I have seen slides taken from a study that shows that when the wind blows, as much as 9 times as much dust is churned up in urban areas than in the undisturbed desert under natural vegetation. (Dan Warren has promised to get me this study so that I can post it on my web site.) There are some around who will say that the dust has been coming off the desert of the West Mesa for as long as they can remember. But, for as long as any can remember, there was cattle out there overgrazing the land even before the dirt roads were cut out there.
I have learned that high PM-10 levels are a health hazard. Actually, the dust we can see is not the problem. Those particles are the ones that are caught in our nose, mouth, and throat. It's the really small particles that are inhaled into our lungs - and stay there - that are the problem. We don't often see the emergency rooms that have people who are having problems breathing.
And the Environmental Protection Agency says we have a problem. Our air quality levels are dangerously close to causing us to not be in compliance. They don't care that we are in a drought. They want the PM10 (and PM2.5, and carbon monoxide, and ozone levels) to be at safe levels. Period. If we don't comply, the EPA will come in here and be messing with us for the next 25 years. The Phoenix area did not keep their air quality up and the pollution down, and their air quality is now being monitored and controlled by the EPA. I have read parts of the the Phoenix area Federal Implementation Plan, and I will report on it as I know more. One rumor I heard was that people in Phoenix can't even park their RVs on their lawn. They have to park them on the pavement. I haven't been able to substantiate that, though.
I believe that if we work together as a community we can reduce the levels of PM10 in our air, just like we have reduced the levels of Carbon Monoxide with our auto emissions programs and cleaner fuels. Dan Warren says that they very seldom call for no-burn nights in the city because of Carbon Monoxide levels any more, but they do for PM10 sometimes. I would rather work with a local board rather than allow the EPA to come in here and dictate the solutions for us.
The horse community found out about the fugitive dust regulations too late to fight to change them. All we had the opportunity to do was change the fee structure, which we did. Now, we have to live with the regs, no matter what we think of them. Plus, it will be in the interest of the health of our community to have cleaner air. And like it or not, if we, as a horse community, are part of the problem, we should be part of the solution.
I had planned on writing the Q&A section this week, but I have already rambled on long enough. Besides, I realize there are some questions that I need to verify the answers with other people before I publish them.
What questions do you have about the implementation of the Fugitive Dust plan? I think I can anticipate most questions, like who will be affected, how will land will be assessed, when will the program start, and things like that. Please let me know what you want to know, and I will try to get the answers and publish them next week.
Once again, I apologize for seeming to pound on this issue week after week, but it is what is important to me, and it is important to the horse community.
Fun Things to Do January 17 - 25
Boy, there ain't much on the calendar this month, is there?
18 WINTER FUNóbarrels, poles & flag racing. Beginner, novice, & intermediate divisions. 1 p.m. Bosque Farms Rodeo Arena, Bosque Farms. Info: Vernon or Wendy Honeyfield, 865-9585
More fun next week...
Boy, there ain't much fun in this newsletter this week, is there?
Please tell your friends about this newsletter, and have them send me an e-mail, and I'll get them signed up. Or have them sign themselves up at www.HorsemensVoice.com. And be sure to tell them you referred them
The above newsletter was written when Nancy Gage and Jay Koch owned The Horsemen's Voice magazine. The Horsemen's Voice name and logo are used here with permission of the new owner, Catherine Logan-Carillo, who is a fine, upstanding member of the community. Catherine disavows any silliness, stupidity, vapidity, errors, or unintentional offenses, and the reader should know that she would know better than publish anything like this.
Aside from the Horsemen's Voice name and logo, the rest of this newsletter is copyrighted by and is the full responsibility of Jay Koch. All rights reserved. Please ask permission before using any of this material in any form.