From the Office of the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities:
When it comes to advocating for northern New Mexico, the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities (RCLC) is key. Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) is the linchpin of the region’s economy, and the RCLC’s mission is to bring area communities together and to provide leverage to demand answers from the Department of Energy (DOE) as well as LANL regarding questions of funding and environmental cleanup.
Additionally, the RCLC’s leverage has continued to be a powerful voice in leading LANL to reinvest in local communities.
“For years our communities have stood alone and separate, without a voice on issues that directly affect them,” RCLC Executive Director Eric Vasquez said. “With workloads increasing, keeping an eye on DOE activities is one more task that can easily fall by the wayside, leaving the DOE free to push its own priorities on our communities. That’s why the united front of the RCLC is imperative to community empowerment.”
The RCLC’s compliance with recommendations from the state auditor also is key to local communities continuing to thrive. As of Aug. 1, 2018, the RCLC is under entirely new administration, Chicanos Por La Causa (CPLC), a nonpartisan Phoenix-based umbrella organization dedicated to political and economic empowerment.
“At CPLC New Mexico, we take compliance and transparency very seriously,” CPLC New Mexico President Roger Gonzales. “We have a proven history of revitalizing organizations with a rich legacy of community service and advocacy.”
Under this new leadership, major changes have happened within the RCLC. Salaries have been scaled back, ensuring money goes directly into project development and right back into the communities served. These cuts save community members’ money, and now that reimbursements are no longer being given out, the budget is lower overall.
“The RCLC is a powerful economical asset to the region,” Vasquez said. “Now under new leadership and oversight from CPLC New Mexico, we’re making a concerted effort to right the wrongs of the past, ensuring compliance and saving this important asset from misuse.”
Over the years, the RCLC has been successful in bringing millions of dollars of direct investment and budget increases to the region, and under new leadership, it can continue provide leverage to bring more gross receipts tax impact and LANL investment to the area.
The list of community victories secured by the RCLC is wide-reaching. The organization has brought an increase of $42 million in cleanup spending to the region, moving dangerous contaminants from the land. The RCLC also preserves jobs and economic investment in communities thanks to its advocacy that fines be used to fund projects like road repairs.
Inspired by past successes, members of the RCLC can come together to do even more.
As communities grow and change, so do their needs. Over the next few months, the RCLC will be convening meetings to hear directly from residents and business owners what each community needs and how best the RCLC can advocate on their behalf, leading to an improved quality of life for everyone.
United under the RCLC, a collective of community voices ensures that the DOE understands that LANL, its projects and its policies affect thousands of New Mexicans in very real ways.