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New Mexico Environmental Law Center
1405 Luisa Street
Santa Fe, New Mexico 87505
Telephone: (505) 989-9022
Fax: (505) 989-3769
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.”
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.”