Joni Arends Receives Griff Salisbury Env’l Protection Award

On December 8th, the New Mexico Environmental Law Center honored Joni Arends, Co-founder and Executive Director of CCNS, with the Griff Salisbury Environmental Protection Award at its annual Member Appreciation Party in Santa Fe.  The award recognizes an outstanding individual who has made significant contributions to the protection of New Mexico’s environment.  Since 1988, Joni Arends has been a leading voice against the nuclear weapons industry in New Mexico, including Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL).   

The Law Center presented Joni with a handmade belt buckle engraved with the moon rising over the Ortiz Mountains, made by Reflective Jewelry.

The winner of the Law Center’s annual Toxic Turkey Award was LANL, for over seven decades of “polluting the human and natural environment and continuous violations of basic principles of environmental justice.”  The award is given to a person or group that has shown extraordinary disregard for New Mexico’s environment and the communities that live in it.

In announcing the award, staff attorney Jon Block pointed to the origins of LANL in the Manhattan Project to develop the first atomic weapons.  The federal government expropriated the sacred lands of the Peoples of the San Ildefonso and Santa Clara Pueblos as an isolated location for the secret laboratory.  LANL dumped hazardous chemical, metal and radioactive waste into the canyons running off the Pajarito Plateau and into hundreds of its dumps, all of which have since then contaminated the drinking water aquifer and the Rio Grande.

New Mexico’s Right to Know: The Potential for Groundwater Contaminants from Los Alamos National Laboratory to Reach the Rio Grande by George Rice 

Fact Sheet: New Mexico’s Right to Know: The Potential for Groundwater Contaminants from LANL to Reach the Rio Grande

The Law Center also gave awards to Tewa Women United and Norman Gaume.

Tewa Women United was awarded the Jeanne Gauna Community Environmental Advocacy Award for New Mexicans who have given significant time and effort toward grassroots advocacy for the welfare of our state’s communities, especially through the linkage of environmental health and community well being.  Kathy Wanpovi Sanchez, her husband J. Gilbert Sanchez, and their daughter Corrine Sanchez, were recognized for 30 years of representing a frontline community in the fight to protect sacred lands and the health of communities and the environment downstream and downwind from LANL.

Norm Gaume, former director of the Interstate Stream Commission, received the Karl Souder Water Protection Award, which honors an outstanding individual who has made significant contributions to protection of New Mexico water.  Norm Gaume has been a leader in the efforts to prevent his former agency from moving forward with expensive and unrealistic plans to divert water from the Gila River.  Instead, he led the efforts to implement community-based plans intended to preserve the Gila.

Douglas Meiklejohn, Executive Director of the Law Center, said, “The Law Center is proud to work with these organizations and individuals and to represent them in their efforts to force recalcitrant companies and agencies to be accountable to the people of New Mexico.”

  1. Your financial support makes a difference!  Please help CCNS with an end-of-the-year tax-deductible contribution.  Mail your check to CCNS, P. O. Box 31147, Santa Fe, NM  87594-1147, or use our e-contribution form on the right side of our home page at We need your contribution to continue our weekly broadcast and social media work.  There’s a lot of work to be done in 2020 – stay informed with the CCNS Media Network!  Many thanks!

    2.    Friday, December 20th, beginning at 9 am – the NM Env’l Improvement Board hearing on proposed Hazardous Waste fee increases in Room 309 at the Roundhouse.  See last week’s CCNS News Update for more info and a sample public comment letter in support of fee increases.

    Please get your letter in TODAY before the end of the hearing TOMORROW.  Industry is questioning the basis for the increases.  The Environment Improvement Board needs to know that the People support the fee increases.

    Happy Holidays to All!  Stay Safe!


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