SANTA FE, N.M.— Today an appeal of the New Mexico Water Quality Control Commission’s (WQCC) adoption of copper mining groundwater regulations was filed by Gila Resources Information Project (GRIP) and Turner Ranch Properties, L.P., represented by New Mexico Environmental Law Center (NMELC), and Amigos Bravos represented by High Desert Energy + Environment Law Partners. The groups are challenging the adopted copper mining rules because they expressly allow water pollution rather than prevent it. Proposed by the New Mexico Environment Department and the global copper mining company, Freeport-McMoRan Copper and Gold, the rules mark the first time in 36 years that the WQCC has set aside its mandate to protect the quality of the state’s scarce groundwater resources.
“At the request of Freeport McMoRan, the Commission adopted a regulation that allows extensive and permanent groundwater pollution at all copper mines,” says Bruce Frederick, NMELC Staff Attorney. “We are appealing the rule because we think it’s unconstitutional and diametrically opposed to the Commission’s express statutory mandate, which is to prevent water pollution.”
10/10/2013 • Back to top
However, skeptics in the environmental community suspect political factors, suggesting that Bland was pressured to leave as a result of votes he cast earlier this year. They see Bland’s departure as the latest victory for Gov. Susana Martinez’s goal of stacking environmental and mining commissions with industry-friendly people in order to undo or weaken previously adopted environmental regulations.
“I think the Martinez administration cannot tolerate dissent of any kind and he was removed,” said Bruce Frederick, attorney with the New Mexico Environmental Law Center.The Santa Fe New Mexican
10/08/2013 • Back to top
SANTA FE, N.M. — The New Mexico Mining Commission voted on September 17th to change mining regulations to allow larger humate mines without comprehensive environmental review. The rule change allows humate mines to disturb twice as many acres at a time without doing the environmental review that is required under the mining act for other mines this size. (Humate is a coal-like substance that is used primarily as a soil additive.) Amigos Bravos, represented by New Mexico Environmental Law Center, opposed the rule change and presented testimony in opposition to the change.
“By giving the humate mining industry special treatment under the law, this rule change sets a dangerous precedent,” said Rachel Conn, Amigos Bravos’ Project Director. “We are concerned that other mining industries in the state will want the same ability to disturb more land without appropriate environmental oversight.”
09/23/2013 • Back to top
They felt their input wasn’t heard before, but earlier this week the New Mexico Water Quality Control Commission voted to set a hearing in March 2014 to give a platform for dairymen to voice their concerns regarding groundwater discharge rules that affect them…“Our clients are cautiously optimistic about the Environment Department’s decision to advocate for conducting a stakeholder advisory process,” said Jon Block, NMELC staff attorney, in the press release. “Now it’s at least possible to work toward changes to the regulations so that our scarce and precious water resources will be protected from pollution by these mega dairies.” Clovis News Journal
09/14/2013 • Back to top
The New Mexico Water Quality Control Commission voted 9-1 Tuesday to approve new rules altering the way in which groundwater contamination is dealt with…The commission also voted to set a March 2014 meeting to hear the dairy industry’s petition to alter groundwater discharge rules that are applied to farms. The New Mexico Environmental Law Center (NMELC) with support and assistance from Socially Responsible Agricultural Project (SRAP) represents clients, the Rio Grande Chapter of the Sierra Club and Amigos Bravos, who are opposed to the changes. Albuquerque Business First
09/11/2013 • Back to top
Community and environmental groups to appeal
SANTA FE, N.M. — The New Mexico Water Quality Control Commission (WQCC) voted today to adopt copper mining groundwater regulations that expressly allow water pollution rather than prevent it. The rules, proposed by the New Mexico Environment Department and the global copper mining company, Freeport-McMoRan, marks the first time in 36 years that the Commission has set aside its mandate to protect the quality of the state’s scarce groundwater resources.
“For years, Freeport has fought to have here in New Mexico the same unchecked power it enjoys in undeveloped countries,” says Bruce Frederick, Staff Attorney at the New Mexico Environmental Law Center (NMELC). “The company wants to pollute groundwater with no limits, and now they have convinced this Administration to let it do just that.”
Learn more about the Copper mine groundwater regulations case.
09/10/2013 • Back to top