The State of New Mexico Environment Department on Friday set a public hearing for a water-discharge permit denied a horse slaughter plant, Valley Meat Company, in July. According to the webpage Citizens Against Equine Slaughter, the hearing will take place on Tuesday, October 22, 2013, 9:00 a.m., at the Chaves County Courthouse, 400 N. Virginia, in Roswell.
The hearing will discuss the Discharge Permit Application for Valley Meat Company. Owner, Mr. De Los Santos proposes to renew the Discharge Permit for the discharge of up to 8,000 gallons per day of horse processing waste water from the horse slaughterhouse. Discussed will be the potential of ground water contamination which includes nitrogen compounds.
In an article from HorsesforLife.org, the Water Quality Bureau received more than 450 comments opposing the renewal of the water discharge permit. DeLos Santos argues that most of the comments were from people outside of the United States and not from the State of New Mexico. He stated that no one from the farm area of Roswell commented.
Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) from District 1 in Albuquerque opposes horse slaughter and states that 75% of New Mexicans oppose horse slaughter, calling it a cruel practice which inflicts great pain and distress. Grisham is also concerned with health issues as most American horses are routinely administered known carcinogenic drugs prohibited in the United States to be used on animals killed for human consumption.
A July 11 letter from the Environmental Department of New Mexico brings attention to another legal aspect citizens against the permit expressed. Numerous public comments raised concern about De Los Santos "possible misrepresentations of criminal charges."
"Specifically Section 74-6-5 (E) (4) requires that if an "applicant" has, within the last ten (10) years received a felony charge or one constitution moral turpitude the Department must deny the application."”
In a New York Times article Mr. De Los Santos' attorney A. Blair Dunn stated the advocacy group erroneously described criminal trespassing as a felony. In December 2011, the first application filled out by Mr. De Los Santos stated "none" in the section about felony convictions. The second application filled out in March 2012 had no notations of any convictions, however the third application was filled out with two convictions; one for criminal trespass in Texas in 1988 and the other for residential burglary there in 1978.
Court records show that Mr. De Los Santos was arrested by the Amarillo police department on Sept. 11, 1989 — his third U.S.D.A. application reported the incident occurring a year earlier — on suspicion of criminal trespass but charged only with a moving violation and convicted of that offense.“ He was arrested on Aug. 28, 1978, in Dallam County, Tex., charged with
residential burglary and convicted. Mr. Wagman, the lawyer for Front Range, contended that Mr. De Los Santos now has committed a third felony by improperly filling out his first two applications. Under federal law, it is a felony to knowingly falsify, conceal or materially misrepresent facts submitted on a federal application.
Source: The Examiner by Cheryl Hanna
Below is the official notice of the Public Hearing and how to participate.
Description of the Requested Action:
The New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) has scheduled a public hearing to consider the proposed approval of a ground water Discharge Permit Renewal, DP-236, based on the application submitted by Ricardo De Los Santos, President of Valley Meat Company, LLC, 3845 Cedarvale Road, Roswell, New Mexico 88203. Discharge Permits are issued and renewed pursuant to the New Mexico Water Quality Control Commission (WQCC) Regulations, 20.6.2 NMAC.
Hearing Date, Time and Location:
The hearing begins with opening statements and the presentation oftechnical testimony on Tuesday, October 22, 2013, 9:00 a.m., at the Chaves County Courthouse, 400 N. Virginia, in Roswell, New Mexico.Non-technical public comment will be taken as specified by the Hearing Officer, and also starting at 5:00 p.m. on October 22.The hearing may continue on the following day as determined by the Hearing Officer.In lieu of oral public comments, written statements may be submitted to the Hearing Clerk for the record during or prior to the hearing.
Application and Facility Description:
In the Discharge Permit Application for Valley Meat Company, DP-236, Mr. De Los Santos proposes to renew the Discharge Permit for the discharge of up to 8,000 gallons per day of livestock processing wastewater from a slaughter facility.Wastewater generated from the slaughter facility and occasional washdown of receiving pens collects in two concrete tanks for solids settling before flowing into the first of two synthetically lined impoundments
for disposal by evaporation.Potential ground water contaminants associated with this type of discharge include nitrogen
compounds.The facility is located at 3845 Cedarvale Road , approximately six miles east of Roswell , in Section 17, T11S, R25E, Chaves County .Ground water beneath the site is at a depth of approximately 10 feet and has a total dissolved solids concentration of approximately 4,080 milligrams per liter.
The hearing will be conducted in accordance with the WQCC Regulations at 184.108.40.20610 NMAC and NMED’s Permitting Procedures at 20.1.4 NMAC, available electronically at http://www.nmcpr.state.nm.us/nmac/_title20/title20.htm, and at no charge from the NMED Hearing Clerk, Sally Worthington, Room S-2103, 1190 St. Francis Drive, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87502,
telephone 505-827-2002 <br>, fax 505-827-2836. All interested persons will be given a reasonable opportunity at the public hearing to submit relevant evidence, data, views or arguments orally or in writing, and to examine persons who testify at the
No decision will be made at the end of the hearing; the post-hearing process will be set out upon the completion of the evidentiary record.Following that process, the NMED Secretary will approve, conditionally approve, or disapprove the proposed Discharge Permit based upon the administrative record for the Discharge Permit application, including the applicable information provided during the public hearing.
NMED will arrange for a court reporting service to make a written transcript of the hearing proceedings.Any party requesting a copy of the transcript from the court reporting service shall bear the full cost of obtaining copies of the transcript. The transcript also becomes a public record available from the NMED Hearing Clerk.
Technical Evidence Presentation Requirements:Any person who wishes to present technical evidence at the hearing shall file a Statement of Intent to Present Technical Testimony by 5:00 p.m. October 9, 2013, with the NMED Hearing Clerk, Sally Worthington, Room S-2103, 1190 St. Francis Drive , P.O. 5469, Santa Fe , New Mexico 87502 .Persons filing a Statement of Intent shall also serve a copy on the Department, the Applicant and other parties of record.A service list is available from the Hearing Clerk. Additional information concerning the presentation of technical evidence can be found in a Procedural Order entered by the Hearing Officer on August 15, 2013, available from the Hearing Clerk and on the web at
Among many issues President Ben Shelly lobbied for on his trip to Washington D.C. this week, was asking congressional leaders not to support a provision in the 2014 Agricultural Appropriations Bill that would reinstate a ban on horse slaughtering.
The prospects aren't good, but meanwhile, the owner of a proposed horse slaughterhouse says he'd be willing to locate on the Navajo Nation - whose sovereign status may exempt it from the ban.
In 2011, Congress removed a ban on horse slaughtering that had been in place since 2006. Even though the Obama Administration is against horse slaughtering, the U.S Department of Agriculture issued permits to Valley Meat Inc., of Roswell, N.M. and Responsible Transportation in Iowa in June to begin horse slaughter operations.
On Aug. 2, Shelly wrote to U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, a member of the House Agriculture Committee, and other congressional leaders about the Navajo Nation's growing problems with feral horses, including his support for horse slaughtering from a land manager perspective. From his experience from driving across the reservation, especially driving to and from his home in Thoreau, N.M. to the tribal capital in Window Rock, the president said he would tell congressional leaders what he sees first-hand.
"They are starving and dying of thirst," he said about the estimated 75,000 feral horses on the reservation in an Aug. 16 interview with the Navajo Times. "I feel sorry for them," he added. "They're skinny, they're mustangs and they're small." In the letter to Grisham and also in his interview with the Navajo Times, Shelly said the range of the land - about 27,000 square miles - is suitable for only about 30,000 horses, and not 75,000. Shelly said the overpopulation of feral horses has resulted in the imbalance of the Navajo landscape, with the rangeland being depleted, water sources damaged through feces and urine contamination and even fatal car-horse collisions on the highways. He also said that the thousands of free roaming feral horses are competing with other livestock and wild game for resources to survive, which he claims has changed the migratory processes for wild game.
He cited the Navajo Department of Agriculture's statistics about how much of an impact these horses have on the landscape, saying a single feral horse consumes 5 gallons of water per day, or 1,825 gallons of water per year. These feral horses also consume 18 pounds of forage per day, or 6,570 pounds per year. "Removing 159 from the Navajo Nation would save 290,175 gallons of water per year and 1.1 million pounds of forage," the president said. On his trip, Shelly said he would also meet with officials from the Bureau of Indian Affairs and challenge them about helping tribes with managing their lands, considering
the agency has a history of Indian policy like the 1930s Navajo Livestock Reduction.
"We now have an overstock of horses," he said. "Why are they not here? The BIA should be in charge of this. What happened to that federal policy? That's what needs to be said in Washington, D.C." Though he favors the idea of slaughtering horses to help restore the land back in balance with nature, the president also said he's "open" to other ideas, such as adoptions, before the horses go to slaughter. "I'm open," he said, before adding that if the feral horses couldn't be sold or adopted, slaughter is "the only thing you can do."
Shelly will need to do some major convincing. According to a June 13 press release issued by the House Appropriations Committee, the appropriations bill passed the committee's floor with several amendments. One of those amendments, sponsored by U.S. Rep. Jim Moran (D-Virginia), prohibits government funding for inspections of horse slaughter facilities in the U.S. - which effectively shuts down the industry. The amendment has bipartisan support. The appropriations bill, which totals about $19.5 billion in discretionary funding, now proceeds to the full House floor for consideration. It is $1.5 billion below the fiscal 2013 bill enacted into law and approximately equal to the current funding level caused by automatic sequestration spending cuts, according to the appropriations committee.
Grisham, a Democrat who represents District 1 in Albuquerque, opposes slaughtering horses for meat. She was pleased with U.S. District Court Judge Christina Armijo's Aug. 2 decision to temporarily bar Valley Meat. Inc. from operating its horse slaughter facility, and with the recent passage of the agricultural appropriations bill.
"Horse meat also poses significant food safety issues that make it dangerous for human consumption," she said. "I urge Congress to pass this Agriculture Appropriations bill that will prevent horses, a majestic fixture of the American West, from being methodically and inhumanely put to death."
Like Grisham, New Mexico Attorney General Gary King opposes horse slaughtering. He is an intervener in the lawsuit against the U.S Department of Agriculture for its alleged failure to conduct the proper environmental review before placing inspectors in horse slaughter plants, including at Valley Meat Inc.
"I think horses that have been wild or horses that are undernourished are not horses amenable for human consumption," King said, adding that in the U.S. horses are not perceived as food animals like pigs, chickens or cattle. King said the issue in the case is about the way in which the USDA issued the permit, without environmental review, to have federal inspectors inside Valley Meat Inc.'s operations. "This is something that hasn't been done in a number of years," he said. "It is a major federal action. That is what triggers an necessity for the environmental impact."
The U.S. Humane Society was contacted for an interview, but according to Stephanie Twinning, public relations manager for the organization, lawyers encouraged her not comment on the matter because it's in litigation. The Humane Society has maintained that Armijo's temporary restraining order, which prevents Valley Meat Inc. and other horse processing plants from operating for 30 days, is a step toward ending the inhumane treatment of horses at slaughterhouses.
Armijo has at least until Sept. 3 to decide whether to extend the order to a preliminary injunction, which could put Valley Meat Inc., out of business for at least six months to a year. Valley Meat Inc. owner Rick De Los Santos, however, remains optimistic about how Armijo will rule, because the Humane Society, King and other horse advocate plaintiffs have the burden of proof.
"The Humane Society has burden of proof to prove this to the judge they're correct in what they're saying," De Los Santos said. De Los Santos, whose plant was a cattle slaughterhouse for 22 years, said his company is exempt from the environmental clearance.
De Los Santos said he has had hundreds of angry phone calls since he announced plans to open the plant, including death threats against him and his family.
In late July, an arsonist set fire to the plant. He is waiting for an October hearing to renew a discharge permit for his operation, which was requested by the New Mexico Environment Department after more than 450 comments were filed against his operation becoming a horse slaughterhouse.
De Los Santos contends that most of the comments are from people from out of the U.S. and state of New Mexico, adding that there were no comments from residents of Roswell, known as a farming community. He also noted that the plaintiffs posted a $495,000 bond, ordered by U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Hayes Scott, because Valley Meat Inc., and Responsible Transportation (which has since dropped plans to slaughter horses) would suffer damages and losses from being inoperable.
The Humane Society objects to the bond and challenged it in hearings on Wednesday. The outcome of that hearing was unavailable as of press time. De Los Santos added that if he could get the Navajo Nation's support to set up a slaughterhouse on the reservation, he would jump at the opportunity. "It would be something that would benefit the Navajo Nation," he said, adding that China and Mexico are the largest consumers of horsemeat. "I'd be willing to talk to President Shelly."
As for the state legislature, representatives Sandra Jeff and Sharon Clahchischilliage, who are both enrolled members of the Navajo Nation, share Shelly's concerns about the feral horse issue on the reservation and have come out in favor of slaughtering.
Source: Navajo Times
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