"'The Environment ... Is Where We Live'"

"Lauro Silva shifts his minivan into gear on a sunny autumn day and begins a tour of Mountain View, a loose unincorporated neighborhood on Albuquerque's southern fringe, beside the lush Rio Grande bosque. The streets have optimistic names like Prosperity Avenue and Community Lane, but they're mostly gravel or dusty pavement or just dirt.

We tool past manufactured houses, trailers, old adobes and other modest homes, some well-kept and some with broken or boarded-up windows. There are vast naked-dirt vacant lots where buildings have been torn down and not replaced. And warehouses, junkyards, cement plants, door-manufacturing and dog-food companies, enormous tanks filled with gasoline, diesel fuel and liquid nitrogen.

Silva, a stocky 65-year-old lawyer with graying hair, bushy eyebrows and dark eyes, has lived in this neighborhood for 12 years and is working hard to improve it. About 4,300 residents are scattered across 8,400 acres here, he says. Their homes are mingled with more than 25 junkyards, five gravel and concrete companies, seven petroleum bulk terminals, a brick company, the odiferous sewage treatment plant that serves all of Albuquerque, and dozens of other industries, many surrounded by razor wire."

Arla Shephard and Ray Ring report for High Country News February 1, 2010.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010