Articles Comments

New Mexico Telegram » Courts, Environment, Featured » AG, enviro groups appeal copper rule decision

AG, enviro groups appeal copper rule decision

New Mexico Environment Department LogoAttorney General Gary King and environmental groups are appealing a decision by the Water Quality Control Commission to weaken groundwater rules for copper mines in the state.

In a statement sent to media, King said that the copper rules violate the state’s Water Quality Act by allowing the water under copper mines to be contaminated at levels higher than allowed by the law.

“Ninety percent of New Mexicans rely on groundwater for drinking water and this new rule, if allowed to be implemented, could render our water undrinkable for hundreds of years,” King said.

King has asked the New Mexico Court of Appeals to stop the implementation of the new rule.

Separately, the 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, filed an appeal against the rule.

“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.”

“As communities throughout the state discuss ways to deal with future water needs against the specter of long-term drought, it is irresponsible to allow mining companies to pollute thousands of acre-feet of groundwater that could be used in the future by municipalities, industry or agriculture,” Allyson Siwik, GRIP Executive Director, said in a statement.

The Santa Fe Reporter and Alibi each wrote about the controversial circumstances surrounding the change of the rule.

The Reporter story highlighted the opposition to the copper rule changes throughout the process from both environmental groups and the office of the Attorney General.

The copper rule was approved on a near-unanimous vote by the WQCC. Only Doug Bland voted against the rule — and Bland recently resigned from the commission.

Written by

Matthew Reichbach has blogged about New Mexico politics since 2006. Matthew was a co-founder of New Mexico FBIHOP with his brother and part of the original hirings at the groundbreaking website the New Mexico Independent. Matthew has covered events such as the Democratic National Convention and Netroots Nation. In addition to politics, Matthew is an avid sports fan, especially of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and TV fan.

Filed under: Courts, Environment, Featured · Tags: , , , , , , ,

One Response to "AG, enviro groups appeal copper rule decision"

  1. joseph hempfling says:

    The new copper rule was nothing more than an outright GIFT to the mining industry by Susana ! I know as I was there and sat tru most of the kangaroo hearing where hard science was put aside in light of political ideology ! And most disturbing was the out right sell out by our very own NM Environment Department who did nothing more than front for the Governor. And their Representative and newly appointment head of the Department hired only two weeks before so in effect had no first hand experience with the new proposed rule and had to apologize for his own lack of knowledge. Obviously a set up and another “talkiing head” trying to protect his job and not us the people of New Mexico. This was not about Copper. It is about Water and which under our Constitution belongs to the People as a Public Trust. And is not up for bids to the highest bidder, in this case the Copper Industry.