The New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) will go before the New Mexico Water Quality Control Commission (WQCC) beginning April 9 to present its proposed water quality rules for the copper mining industry.

After an 8-month stakeholder process, NMED upper-level managers ignored the recommendations of their technical staff and the NMED Advisory Committee, and rewrote the proposed rule favoring all of the copper mining industry’s wants. The proposed rules will reduce water quality protections that have been in place in New Mexico for over 35 years. (Go to Copper Rule case page)

NMED’s proposed rule:
– Would give the mining industry the right to pollute thousands of acre-feet of groundwater.
– Is in direct conflict with the State Water Quality Act which requires polluters to prevent groundwater contamination during their operations.
Would give the mining industry the right to pollute future drinking water supplies and impact the health of people and communities.
– Could pave the way for other polluters to demand similar rollbacks in water quality safeguards. This would lower the cost of doing business for the polluter while transferring the cost of clean up and the cost to address public health outcomes to New Mexico taxpayers.

NMED’s petition to re-write the rule represents a “gift” to the copper mining industry from the Martinez Administration. If it is allowed, companies such as Freeport-McMoRan, the largest publicly traded copper company in the world, will use New Mexico’s groundwater as a dumping ground for mine waste.

Gila Resources Information Project and Turner Enterprises represented by New Mexico Environmental Law Center, and Amigos Bravos represented by High Desert Energy + Environment Law Partners are opposed to this rulemaking on grounds that the proposed rule is illegal under the Water Quality Act. The NM Attorney General is also opposed to NMED’s petition to the WQCC on the same grounds.

Hearing Dates and Public Participation: (NMMAN Copper Rule Info)

The hearing will begin at 9:00am on April 9, 2013 in Room 307 at the NM State Capitol in Santa Fe (map). Hearing dates are: April 9-11, April 16-18, April 23-25, April 30-May 2. the hearing is open to the public.

Public testimony will be taken from 5:00-7:00pm on the evenings of April 10 & 11 in Apodaca Hall, Old PERA Building, 1120 Paseo de Peralta in Santa Fe (map) – and in Silver City on May 3 from 4:00pm-7:00pm at the Global Resource Center, Western NM University, 817 West 12th Street (map).

Written public comments can be submitted up to the last day of the hearing. Comments should be sent to:

Pam Castañeda, Commission Administrator
New Mexico Environment Department
1190 S. St. Francis Drive, N2168
P.O. Box 5469
Santa Fe, New Mexico 87502