A Tip of the Hat to Laura Paskus at the Global Climate Change Conference in Cancun

By Tracy Dingmann

You may have heard about the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, meeting from Nov. 30 to Dec. 10 in Cancun, Mexico.

It’s a global confab of policymakers and negotiators from 192 countries who are gathering to work through solutions to the scourge of global warming and climate change. (Last year’s meeting was in Copenhagen.)

Aside from publications like the New York Times and The Guardian, news coverage of Cancun has been pretty sparse. That’s part of a trend noted by media critic Nathan Schock, writing at the blog 3blmedia, who notes that a recently-leaked memo from the Gannett newspaper USA TODAY shows that 27 reporters there cover entertainment, while only five cover the environment.

I am happy to say that New Mexicans are lucky to have one of the region’s finest freelance reporters, Laura Paskus, in Cancun gathering information for stories that will appear in a number of media outlets.

You can follow her personal blog – read one of her dispatches from Cancun here – and keep track of what longer-term projects she might be working on with the information she’s gathering from the world’s leading climate change fighters in Cancun.

The Demise of Desert Rock

This is a must read by Laura Paskus at the High Country News:

This March, after seven years of planning and with millions of dollars poured into attorneys, consultants and travel junkets, Sithe Global not only delayed the (Desert Rock) project once again — beyond 2015 this time — but said it is considering changing it extensively. In June, the company gave up the only funding it had secured for construction of the project, when it allowed a $3.2 billion industrial revenue bond and tax break from San Juan County, N.M., to expire. And now, with its champion (Navajo Nation President) Shirley stepping down because of term limits this fall, Desert Rock’s days are likely numbered.

The life and death of Desert Rock

Is Desert Rock Dead?

Is the Desert Rock power plant proposal near death? Though the Navajo Nation insists the coal-fired plant proposed for tribal land is still on track, a number of recent developments indicate otherwise.

Today, High Country News published an excerpt of Albuquerque-based environmental writer Laura Paskus’ in-depth look at the rise and fall of Desert Rock.

The link below is just a taste – the site will publish her full report in the coming days.

Check Out “Dueling Claims”

Taken from High Country News

Taken from High Country News

We at Clearly New Mexico just love this High Country News story by environmental writer Laura Paskus about the battle over Mt. Taylor near Grants, N.M.

In “Dueling Claims,” Paskus, a freelance reporter and former editor for the magazine, deftly weaves a compelling tale about the struggle between Native Americans who believe Mt. Taylor is sacred and the developers and landowners who want to surrender the land to uranium mining and more.

From the top of Mount Taylor, mountains, valleys and mesas unfold into the hazy blue distance; on clear days, you can see all the way to Arizona. The Navajo call the 11,301-foot-tall peak Tsoodzil, and say it marks one of the four directional boundaries of their spiritual world. The Acoma, who call it Kaweshtima, believe it was created by two sisters who also gave life to plants and animals; it’s still home to beings such as Shakak, the Spirit of Winter and the North. To the Zuni, the mountain is Dewankwin Kyaba:chu Yalannee.

“People may think it’s just a physical entity, that it sits there, and Zunis or Acomas or others, they only go there sometimes,” says Jim Enote, executive director of the A:shiwi A:wan Museum and Heritage Center at Zuni. “But people only go to Mecca once in their life, or Mount Sinai once in their life, or the Vatican once in their life.”

The mountain is sacred, he says, home to shrines and a place for gathering certain plants and minerals. “It is extremely important, and the people who go to Mount Taylor, to Dewankwin Kyaba:chu Yalanee, are doing so to help maintain an entire cosmological process,” he says. “They are doing it for the benefit of all humanity.”

Does the state’s recent designation of Mt. Taylor as a Traditional Cultural Property hand the mountain back over to the tribes – or does it merely give them a say in what happens there in the future? Does the TCP designation void private property rights and prohibit public access to the popular mountain?

In “Dueling Claims,” Paskus weeds out the rumors and emerges with the truth about what the state’s Traditional Cultural Property designation really means for Mt. Taylor and all the stakeholders involved.

It’s an engrossing, well-written piece of journalism. Please check it out!