Tales Of Our Times: A Novel Method Lets Out More Truth

John Bartlit, center, receives the Dorothy Hoard Stewardship Award painting from Friends of Bandelier President Craig Martin with Bandelier National Monument Superintendent Jason Lott. Courtesy photo
Tales of Our Times
New Mexico Citizens
for Clean Air & Water

A Novel Method Lets Out More Truth
Many thoughts crowded my head after the news came last month that I was to receive the 2016 Dorothy Hoard Stewardship Award from the Friends of Bandelier. The blend of thoughts brings to mind the many faces of progress. 
Any such award does honor to the associated groups and members who take action. In a larger sense, it also honors the methods of action used for environmental stewardship itself. I take this occasion to plant a good word for a method used many times by New Mexico Citizens for Clean Air & Water, if not invented there. The invention is the joint press release.
In the constant battle of politicking, each side tells selected parts of the story to the media in whittled ways that would suggest every fact weighs for their side. The impulse is everywhere. As a result, the half of the citizenry over here resorts to thinking that the half over there is lying. So both halves quit listening.  
One remedy is the agreed-on joint press release, which is possible to do surprisingly often if the goal is to tell the larger story accurately. 
A joint press release was part of legal actions with the Four Corners Power Plant, a success that was noted in announcing this year’s Dorothy Hoard Stewardship Award. A joint press release agreed on by all parties was a final piece in the court action that brought SO2 scrubbers to the big coal-fired power plant. The agreed-on joint press release tells the results with more truth than gloss. The whole of it lays open:
New Mexico Citizens for Clean Air and Water, Rio Grande Chapter of Sierra Club, the State of New Mexico, and officials of Arizona Public Service Company, project managers for the coal-fired Four Corners Power Plant, today announced an agreement which requires 72 percent control of the SO2 emissions from the plant by December 31, 1984. The result, all parties say, will be a cleaner environment for citizens in New Mexico, and represents an improvement over the previous legal agreement. That prior agreement, entitled the High Terrain Monitoring Program Agreement, and executed by Arizona Public Service Company, the citizen environmental groups and the State of New Mexico on June 9, 1978, provided that the state regulation requiring approximately 67.5% sulfur removal at the Four Corners Power Plant would remain unchanged. Arizona Public Service Company sought to have that regulation changed.  
Installation of the new SO2 equipment will be in addition to the particulate-removal “baghouses” already under construction at the plant. This will bring the plant owners’ investment in the new SO2 and particulate equipment at Four Corners Units 4 and 5 to approximately 540 million dollars.
Work at the site on the SO2 removal project will begin in early 1982. As many as 600 workers will be employed at the peak of construction activity, and when the project is completed in 1984, the operation will result in the addition of about 100 permanent jobs at the Four Corners Plant.
The agreement follows nine years of technical and legal effort by the environmental groups, which have argued strongly, fairly, and honestly for establishment of clean-air standards and for installation of air-quality equipment which would allow the huge plant to meet all applicable air-quality standards. The 72 percent control requirement announced today is four and one-half percentage points higher than that contemplated in the previous agreement.
Completion of this latest environmental improvement project will mean that the plant should be in compliance with all applicable State and Federal SO2 Regulations.
The cost of this new SO2 and particulate air-quality equipment will add approximately one dollar to the cost of supplying service to the typical Arizona Public Service Company residential customer, and to their resulting monthly bills.
There you have a story of uncommon design. It tells the 1970’s legal history at Four Corners, news of improved pollution controls, added jobs, added costs and the impact of added costs on consumer bills, as told by all sides together.

On different subjects, we co-wrote many such pieces to promote stewardship.