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Joint Statement from Bernalillo County Commissioner Maggie Hart Stebbins and Albuquerque City Councilor Pat Davis

Commissioner, Councilor commend Rep. Haaland for questioning Air Force secretary over jet fuel clean up delays, blocking stakeholder input.

During Congressional hearings earlier this week, Congresswoman Deb Haaland questioned Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson about the Air Force’s apparent change in policy regarding public transparency and community engagement with the Kirtland Air Force Base jet fuel spill remediation process.                   

“There is a discrepancy between the progress the Air Force claims and what has been asserted by community stakeholders…. Community stakeholders have repeatedly expressed that the Air Force has refused to take their input, or refused to share information about the clean-up leading them to believe that environmental restoration at Kirtland is no longer a priority…. What are you doing to gain back the public trust?”  - Rep. Deb Haaland.

Rep. Haaland’s questions to Secretary Wilson begin at 3:02:25 in this video of the US House Armed Services Committee’s April 2, 2019 hearing.  (full link: https://youtu.be/kssH_XRQstY?t=10945)

Haaland’s questioning elicited assurances from Secretary Wilson that the Air Force would prioritize cleanup at the site.

County Commissioner Maggie Hart Stebbins and City Councilor Pat Davis commend Congresswoman Deb Haaland for dedicating her committee questions to these important issues.  Since taking office in January, the congresswoman and her staff have initiated regular meetings with the commissioner and councilor, as well as other community stakeholders involved in the jet fuel cleanup project.

All of the parties have expressed concerns about delays from the Air Force in producing a permanent solution to address lingering jet fuel contamination in the groundwater under Southeast Albuquerque.

“Albuquerque residents and water authority ratepayers deserve to be informed and engaged in the jet fuel remediation process, particularly those who live near the contamination”, said Commissioner Hart Stebbins. “Collaboration and information-sharing among residents, local governments, the water authority, our Federal delegation, and Kirtland AFB leadership has been central to progress on the clean-up and that needs to continue.”

Councilor Pat Davis: “Community transparency has never been an option for this clean up. Residents who live with the disruption of drilling and monitoring deserve to know that it is for a purpose, and that all the work is moving toward conclusion.  When the working group was expanded to include the Water Authority and community stakeholders, we made tremendous progress.  For the Air Force to suddenly retreat behind the gates without committing to a plan to finish, we are right to be concerned. Thankfully, Congresswoman Haaland reached out to us early on to hear our concerns and she took them directly to the secretary in Washington. With the attention of Deb and the rest of our delegation fully focused on this legacy issue, I am confident that stakeholders will find seats back at the table and the Air Force will be held accountable to its promise to fully fund the necessary cleanup.”

Commissioner Hart Stebbins and Councilor Pat Davis both represent portions of Southeast Albuquerque impacted by jet fuel contamination from Kirtland Air Force Base. Commissioner Hart Stebbins currently serves on the Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Water Authority Board. Councilor Davis just completed two terms on the board in 2018.