“Our clients are not trying to stop copper mining; they are trying to ensure that copper mining does not pollute ground water.”
Douglas Meiklejohn, NMELC Executive Director
SANTA FE, N.M.— The New Mexico Supreme Court has granted the petition filed by the New Mexico Environmental Law Center (NMELC) requesting review of the Copper Rule, which regulates discharges from copper mines in New Mexico. The Supreme Court order, dated July 13th, states that it will review all the issues raised in the petition.
“We are gratified that the State Supreme Court will review the challenges to the Copper Rule,” says Douglas Meiklejohn, NMELC Executive Director. “This is a very important issue for New Mexico because of our reliance on ground water, and allowing an entire industry such as the copper mining industry to pollute ground water makes no sense. Our clients are not trying to stop copper mining; they are trying to ensure that copper mining does not pollute ground water.”
The Copper Rule has been the subject of controversy since its adoption in 2013. In 2015 the Court of Appeals upheld the adoption of the Rule. The NMELC represents Gila Resources Information Project (GRIP), Turner Ranch Properties, L.P., and Amigos Bravos in opposition to the Court of Appeals decision. The State Attorney General and a former State Groundwater Bureau Chief have also filed petitions with the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has granted the petitions filed by all parties and has ordered a review of all issues raised. (visit case page)
“As communities throughout the state are confronted by the critical impacts of long-term drought, it is irresponsible to allow mining companies to pollute our precious groundwater that is needed by everyone,” says Allyson Siwik, GRIP Executive Director. “This is a precedent setting case and the New Mexico Supreme Court needs to restore the integrity of our Water Quality Act so that it protects groundwater for all of us.”
“For the entire 30 years before the copper rule was adopted, the copper mining industry demonstrated that it could exist subject to the same ground water protection requirements that apply to other industries. The Copper Rule violates the State Water Quality Act’s mandate that ground water be protected. We hope that the Supreme Court will agree with us,” says Meiklejohn.
The Supreme Court order states a briefing schedule, if any, will follow.