Justin Schatz is The Paper's daily news reporter. He has reported on New Mexico for KRQE News, Searchlight NM and the Santa Fe Reporter.

Plans to begin cloud seeding in New Mexico have been scrapped due to environmental concerns over the process of creating “fake weather”. Community members were concerned that the process, which uses silver iodide, could possibly poison people in the region and wreak ecological damage, and showed up en masse to publicly voice their concerns with the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission last week.

Western Weather Consultants (WWC) withdrew its proposal last weekend over public safety concerns. WWC had planned to install five machines in Northern New Mexico that would release silver iodide into the atmosphere to increase snowfall. Silver iodide mimics the structure of ice crystals and encourages precipitation. The lingering drought has produced increasingly frequent lackluster winters in the state, affecting New Mexico’s ski resorts and putting pressure on communities dependent on the snowpack. This winter is expected to be no exception.

The commission held a hearing last week that featured input from over 150 community members from around the state. Many of the 150-plus community members voiced their opposition to the proposed project. Officials say there has been no evidence as of yet to suggest that the process has a negative ecological effect.

WWC has yet to comment on their pulled proposal, and it is unclear if they will submit another one in the near future.

Cloud seeding is nothing new in the Rocky Mountain region. The U.S. military began experimenting with the process over seventy years ago, and states around the region have used the process to alleviate drought. Colorado has used cloud seeding since the 1970s to mitigate drought in the region.