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.