These letters published in the Sept. 15 print edition of the Las Cruces Sun-News
Story gets it wrong
My staff and I were appalled to read the story “’We sent 500 tests. They don’t answer calls’: Inside ICE’s coronavirus testing disaster.” As the administrator of the Otero County Processing Center, this story was a complete misrepresentation of the facts.
The health and safety of our staff and the people in our care have always been and will always be our number-one priority. We worked with Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the New Mexico Department of Health to ensure we were following all CDC COVID-19 guidelines. While this global pandemic has been challenging for our staff and the people we serve, the claim that the conditions here are “horrifying” couldn’t be further from reality.
We’ve always had adequate supplies of personal protective equipment, disinfectant and general cleaning supplies. Detainees and staff have worked together to keep housing units and general areas clean. Bedding is cleaned weekly. The claim that we went one month before cleaning bedding is ludicrous.
For several weeks, we’ve had zero active COVID-19 cases among staff or detainees.
We’ve been in regular contact with the Health Department testing hundreds of staff and over 1,000 detainees. We’ve had numerous interactions with the Department throughout this process. The notion that we were not responsive doesn’t add up.
This story is a great disservice to the brave and hard-working staff at the Otero County Processing Center who work tirelessly to provide quality services to those in our care in the safest, cleanest, and best environment possible.
Dora Orozco, Chaparral
Strengthen rules to prevent leaks
“Waste not, want not” is a credo we live by in agriculture. Methane venting, flaring and leaks from oil and gas operations account for $275M of wasted natural gas each year in New Mexico, depriving our state of $40M in royalty and tax revenue.
In arguing against the need for state rules to reduce waste and pollution in the oil and gas industry, Chad Smith (Sun News Opinion – 9/6/2020) does not sound like any of the ag producers I know.
While other states, like Colorado and Wyoming, have enacted rules to curb methane emissions, New Mexico lags behind. Producers are often the nearest neighbors to oil and gas facilities, and we bear the brunt of the impacts of NM’s growing methane and air pollution problem.
The five rural counties that are home to 97% of the state’s oil and gas wells are at risk of violating or are already violating federal clean air standards, and rural families are at increased risk for respiratory diseases and exposure to cancer-causing chemicals.
We also have less water available for agriculture because climate change is impacting our state, reducing snowpack, and putting pressure on our watersheds. Using produced water on agriculture lands offers little potential when weighing the risks and liabilities. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, and we must reduce emissions to combat climate change.
Gov. Lujan Grisham has committed to creating nationally leading rules this year, producers applaud the effort to hold oil and gas industry accountable and protect our communities. We will get there by strengthening the draft rules and removing loopholes that allow 95% of wells to be exempt from oversight by the NM Environment Department.
Bill Midcap, Santa Fe
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Read More: From Otero County Processing Center