Location: Gila River
Opposing Parties: Bureau of Reclamation
Initiation Date: July 2009
Clients/Partners: Gila Conservation Coalition
Attorneys: Bruce Frederick
Investigate options open to the State of New Mexico concerning water projects on the Gila River under the Arizona Water Settlements Act.
The New Mexico Environmental Law Center has filed its brief in a challenge of the state’s Copper Rule, which oversees the handling of mining wastes.
The center’s brief argues that the New Mexico Water Quality Control Commission (WQCC) violated the state’s Water Quality Act when it adopted the Copper Rule, and asks the Court of Appeals to set the rule aside. Albuquerque Business First
By Douglas Meiklejohn / Executive Director, New Mexico Environmental Law Center
Printed in the Albuquerque Journal on March 27, 2014
Groundwater provides the drinking water for 90 percent of the people in New Mexico. For that reason, whether the recently adopted regulation that addresses groundwater pollution by copper mines (commonly referred to as “the Copper Rule”) adequately protects New Mexico’s groundwater is a very significant issue.
Officials of the New Mexico Environment Department, including its new Secretary, Ryan Flynn, have attempted to defend the Copper Rule by asserting that it is the most protective regulation in the country.
That assertion is not accurate.
SANTA FE, N.M.— The New Mexico Environmental Law Center (NMELC) filed its Brief in Chief yesterday in an appeal against the adoption of the Copper Rule - a rule that regulates discharges from copper mines. The brief argues that the New Mexico Water Quality Control Commission (WQCC) violated the state’s Water Quality Act when it adopted the Copper Rule, and asks the Court of Appeals to set the rule aside.
“This rule, on its face, allows toxic pollution into groundwater,” says Bruce Frederick, NMELC Staff Attorney. “Given that sixty-five percent of our state is currently in severe drought or worse – including Grant County where Freeport McMoRan’s massive copper mines are located – our decision-makers should be developing rules that protect groundwater. The law is clear in New Mexico: water is a public resource, and it must be protected.”
SANTA FE, N.M.— The New Mexico Mining Commission voted today to deny an effort by the humate mining industry to further weaken protections in the New Mexico Mining Act regulations. A September 17th decision by the Mining Commission allowed humate mines to disturb twice as many acres without doing the environmental review required for other mines this size under the Mining Act. Not satisfied with the ability to disturb twice as much land as other mines, the humate mining industry a motion to reconsider the September decision. The Mining Commission denied the motion.