Enviros Rejoice as Utility Drops Plan for Strip Mine in N.M.

After a bitter 20-year fight, enviros and members of the Zuni Pueblo tribe had cause to celebrate yesterday, when an Arizona utility abandoned plans to build a large coal strip mine and railroad near a salt lake in western New Mexico that the Native Americans hold sacred. Most members of New Mexico’s congressional delegation wrote to federal regulators earlier this summer to express concern about the proposed project’s effect on the lake; Gov. Bill Richardson (D) had likewise worried about the impact of the mine and welcomed yesterday’s news. Zuni Pueblo council member Dan Simplicio said the coordinated effort to halt the mine raised cultural awareness among the Zuni people and nearby tribes: “The awakening we had for the past two years was really strong.” But not everyone was happy about the news; some New Mexicans lamented the lost economic boost the mine would have brought to the state.