Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Copper Rule

And now we wait…

Even the overflow seating was filled to capacity in the state Supreme Court for the hearing of oral arguments on the Copper Rule on September 28th. The argument was dense, focused on the technical workings of copper mines. Former NMELC Staff Attorney Bruce Frederick, who volunteered to see this case through to its conclusion, offered arguments on behalf of our clients Amigos Bravos, Gila Resources Information Project and Turner Ranch Properties.

Our primary concern is new mines: under the Copper Rule, Bruce explained, these mines would be able to pollute pristine groundwater that might otherwise provide drinking water for New Mexican communities. Check out our Q&A about the Copper Rule.

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10/06/2016 • Back to top

Martinez administration continues effort to roll back water quality protections

NMED ignores first round of public comments, opens comment period on new draft of regulations.

By Allyson Siwik, Executive Director of the Gila Resources Information Project, Silver City, NM.

In a second round of proposed changes to surface water and groundwater quality regulations, the NM Environment Department (NMED) has put forth additional language to weaken water quality safeguards for the benefit of polluters and limit opportunities for public participation in permitting processes.

The new language relaxes the water quality standard for chromium and despite public comment in opposition, would continue to allow industry to obtain variances from water quality regulations for an unlimited duration rather than for a five-year period as currently mandated by the state’s Water Quality Act.

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10/06/2016 • Back to top

Copper Rule in hands of Supreme Court

[L]ack of specific language in the bill drew attention from both opponents to the rule and the justices themselves. Justice Barbara Vigil at several times in the hearing asked supporters of the rule, “Is this not overly broad?” To a wider degree, opponents disagree with the rule’s validity as a whole in the authority it holds beneath the umbrella of the Water Quality Act.

Meiklejohn said that the rule is counterintuitive to the act. “The Water Quality Act states that any regulations that are adopted must be adopted to prevent or abate groundwater pollution,” he said. “The New Mexico Copper Rule does not prevent or abate; it allows.” Silver City Daily Press

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10/01/2016 • Back to top

Environmental group ask state to deny firm’s request for water permit

The firm plans to drill 37 wells across the ranch property and pump 54,000 acre-feet of water annually — or 48 million gallons each day — which would be pumped, using hydroelectric and solar power, to areas in Catron, Santa Fe, Bernalillo, Sandoval, Socorro and Valencia counties through a 141-mile pipeline…The initial application also was met with opposition from tribal groups, local communities and the New Mexico Environmental Law Center, which represented at least 80 people protesting the project.

Doug Meiklejohn, director of the nonprofit law center, told The New Mexican in August that he expects at least that many people to protest the current application. Santa Fe New Mexican

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09/30/2016 • Back to top

State proposes changes be made to groundwater rules; Revisions would be first in 20 years

State officials say that the first proposed changes in groundwater quality regulations in more than 20 years will streamline processes and bring New Mexico into alignment with stricter federal standards, but groups opposing some of the changes have said that the new rules would shut down public discussion and lower New Mexico water quality standards…“Why is New Mexico taking a step back?” asked Jaimie Park, staff attorney with the New Mexico Environmental Law Center. “We used to have standards more stringent than the federal standards.” Roswell Daily Record

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09/29/2016 • Back to top

Copper mining regulation goes before state Supreme Court

But opponents argue the rule is overly broad, relaxing regulations and enabling wide-scale pollution. They argue that the rule is the first time in the state’s history that an industry has been given a license to pollute and that the rule poses a substantial threat to the state’s aquifers — which provide 90 percent of the water that flows to New Mexicans’ taps. Santa Fe New Mexican

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09/29/2016 • Back to top

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