The tribal sovereigns and communities on the San Juan River Basin deserve for lawmakers to vote in favor of the San Juan Coal Plant Clean Up Act, House Bill 142.

All stakeholders in this effort must have an agreement on the capability to anticipate, prepare for, respond to and recover from impacts and minimize damage to social well-being, including damage to the economy, health and the environment. Voting in favor of this bill is the first step to implementing resilience in the Four Corners. This act is a pathway toward restoration of the site conditions as they were before the land disturbance.

The economic risks posed by potential contamination of groundwater wells and the San Juan River are enormous. The river is a primary water source for Navajo and Jicarilla Apache people — well over 50% of the San Juan River watershed are Native American lands. The impacts of contamination will be much more widespread, with nearly every major population in New Mexico impacted by the river, whose waters are diverted to feed the Rio Grande all the way to Albuquerque.

Elaine Cimino is director of the Common Ground Rising Community Based organization, working to educate the public on public health and environmental impacts facing our communities.