UNM Innovate ABQ ignores its Moral Duty to NM and the Environment

Innovate

The Albuquerque Journal reports that the UNM Board of Regents has approved $7.3 million for the new UNM Innovate ABQ project. (http://www.abqjournal.com/324469/news/regents-give-the-goahead.html) Although we applaud UNM in its effort to spark job creation in our wonderful city, we condemn them for ignoring their moral duty and purchasing potentially contaminated property. The Board of Regents owe the people and the environment respect by giving all of that money to responsible land owners. They should not purchase land when the ground and water may be contaminated. They are making it clear that they will reward environmental contamination as long as they can’t be sued for it in the future.

The land that UNM is purchasing is located at Broadway and Central. The land may have contaminated ground and water, but the Board of Regents does not care about that. Their only concern is whether or not UNM can be sued in the future for the contamination. They forced the seller to agree to a “voluntary remediation plan” in which they take responsibility for the contamination. The most convenient part is that the sellers are the state Environmental Department and the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad Co. We all know how much these 2 entities care about cleaning up the environment.

Way to go UNM, sell out your morals to get a quick site for your project. UNM President Frank applauds you by saying “We appreciate the regents support and that they did all their due diligence. It’s a better project because of all the research and it’s a great day for UNM.” Their due diligence included turning a blind eye to UNM’s responsibility to set an example for our youth to emulate. Did this show our youth that they can ignore their responsibility to society as long as they can’t be punished for it? Is it o.k. for them to buy stolen merchandise as long as they are told that they will not get in trouble for it?

UNM should refuse to purchase the property until the site was cleaned and all contamination was removed. That may be a lengthy and difficult process, but it would have shown UNM’s dedication to improving this state. A public announcement from UNM would have been a bold statement that it is not acceptable to destroy the environment and then promise to fix it later. They could have demanded that it be fixed now.

Unfortunately that is an idealistic view of what UNM could be. The reality is that the almighty dollar speaks louder than morals. Our University could have made a statement to irresponsible corporations, the state, and the world. But they did not and that is the sad truth. They gave $7.3 million to purchase contaminated land and that “is not their problem.”

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