TAOS — A Colorado company has retracted its application to conduct a cloud seeding project in Northern New Mexico.

New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission Deputy Director Hannah Riseley-White said Western Weather Consultants of Durango, Colo., told her about its change in plans Tuesday.

The company did not respond to requests for comment on the decision.

“The reason they gave was the timeline was pushed back too far for adequate time for the program,” said Riseley-White, who also is chairwoman of the commission’s newly formed Weather Control Committee.

The commission held a webinar on the project Monday, when the majority of the 150-plus members of the public who dialed in voiced objections.

At stake was a proposal to conduct cloud seeding between Dec. 13 and March 15 along the Sangre de Cristo Mountains from Red River to Santa Fe. The project would have been funded by the Roosevelt Soil and Water Conservation District, which had hired Western Weather Consultants. The company planned to use seven cloud-seeding nuclei generators. The devices produce plumes of silver iodide crystals with a goal of increasing precipitation.

A Nov. 11 legal notice in the Taos News states the “intended effect of the operation is to increase precipitation/snowpack water content … to benefit: natural habitat, agriculture, municipal water, stock growers, recreational and tourism interests, local economy.”

It is unclear whether the company will try to reapply for the project.

Cloud seeding has been conducted for at least 75 years in the U.S. and is becoming increasingly popular due to ongoing drought conditions in Western states. The process’s effectiveness at increasing precipitation and its potential environmental and public health effects have remained a subject of concern.

This story first appeared in The Taos News, a sister paper of the Santa Fe New Mexican.

(2) comments

Ann Maes

And now we need to change the law for public response methods from written letter to add email and texts!

Sigmund Silber

You might be correct but I am not sure that one needs a large number of formal protests since the process allows for continual comments and if justified a public hearing. In general if there are a large number of protests I think they are generally combined into one anyway. What IMO is needed is more engagement with communities that might benefit from cloud seeding. This was IMO not done in this case. It was done when a prior effort was initiated by my organization the New Mexico Weather Modification Association, Inc of which I am the President and we went to a number of organizations including Nambe Pueblo which passed a resolution in support of cloud seeding. At that time they saw the benefit of the what we proposed and I met with their Environmental Officer many times. What we proposed was a focused program that would provide water for a few tributaries to the Rio Grande and to support the Rio Grande Compact and resolutions of support were obtained from Rio Arriba County, the Pojoaque Valley Irrigation District, the City of Santa Fe and many organizations within Santa Fe.

I will not comment on the application by Western Weather Consultants but anyone who wants more information on cloud seeding can contact me at ssilber1@juno.com and I will provide information and answer any questions. If it is a a question from an organization we can set up a Zoom session. I am very careful about in person contact during this pandemic but I think that people can benefit from understanding how precipitation processes work.

Global Warming is interfering in those processes and I can explain why that is the case. I certainly do not oppose changes in the statute that govern how the ISC reviews weather modification proposals but I know the person who developed those regulations and he studied how other states do it and the process in New Mexico is similar to the process in other Western States.

If you go to http://www.nawmc.org/ and scroll down you will see a map of where cloud seeding is done in the U.S. In some cases it is to enhance precipitation and in some northern states and Canada it is done to suppress hail meaning to have smaller hail stones that do less damage. It is very effective at that.

There are probably about 25 other nations that do cloud seeding so it is not a new idea by any means. I am not surprised that if not presented and discussed that people would be nervous about it. IMO it needs to have community acceptance.

And that certainly includes Tribal Councils.

Welcome to the discussion.

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