Case Work: Water

New Mexico Copper Mine Groundwater Regulations

LOCATION: Statewide
CLIENTS/PARTNERS: Gila Resources Information Project (GRIP), Amigos Bravos, Turner Ranch Properties, L.P.
STATUS:  Closed


In 2014, the State of New Mexico adopted the Copper Rule – a rule that allows for deliberate contamination of groundwater at every copper mine in New Mexico. It was an unprecedented move – state regulators had previously recognized the value of our state’s scarce groundwater, and never issued a blanket exemption to pollution prevention measures of the state’s Clean Water Act. We challenged the Copper Rule all the way to the state Supreme Court in an effort to rescind the damaging Copper Rule and prevent other industries from seeking similar permission to pollute.


03/07/2016 – Reply Brief filed with the NM Supreme Court. Reply Brief
10/19/2015 – Brief in Chief filed with NM Supreme Court.  Filed Brief-in-Chief
06/13/2015 – NM Supreme court grants review of Copper Rule. NM Supreme court order granting Petition for Writ
05/08/2015 – NMELC files Petition for Writ of Certiorari with the New Mexico Supreme Court. Petition for Writ of Certiorari 
04/08/2015 – Court of Appeals uphold Copper Rule. Court of Appeals decision upholding Copper Rule
04/09/2014 – NMELC files Brief in Chief with Court of Appeals. Court of Appeals decision upholding Copper Rule
02/19/2014 – NMELC files Motion for Stay of Copper Rule and Brief in Support of Stay with the NM Court of Appeals. Motion for Stay and Brief in Support of Stay
12/13/2013 – NMELC files Reply in Support of staying Copper Rule with WQCC until the Court of Appeals makes its determination and a Motion to disqualify the WQCC.  Reply in Support of Stay and Motion to Disqualify WQCC
12/05/2013 – The Copper Rule hearing that was scheduled for December 10th before the Water Quality Control Commission has been postponed. Please stay tuned for upcoming new schedule.
11/08/2013 – Docketing statement is filed in Appeal. Docketing Statement
10/09/2013 – NMELC files Notice of Appeal. Notice of Appeal
09/10/2013 – WQCC adopts copper mining regulations as proposed by NMED and Freeport-McMoRan. Filed Closing Arguments in Opposition to Proposed Copper Rules Read press release.
08/22/2013 – Closing arguments filed.
04/09/2013 – Staff Attorney Bruce Frederick gives opening statement to the Water Quality Control Commission (WQCC).  NMELC’s Opening Statement to the Water Quality Control Commission
04/01/2013 – Beginning April 9th, the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) will go before the New Mexico Water Quality Control Commission (WQCC) to present its draft water quality rules for the copper mining industry. Find out more.
02/22/2013 – Notice of Intent to Present Technical Testimony filed. Notice of Intent to Present Technical Testimony / Mr. Kuipers Testimony, Attachment 1 and Attachment 2 [large file] / Ms. Smith’s Testimony, Attachment 1, Attachment 2 [large file], Attachment 3 [large file] and Attachment 4
12/14/2012 – NMELC filed joint Motion to Dismiss with the Water Quality Control Commission to dismiss the NMED’s proposed copper rule. Joint Motion to Dismiss Petition for Rulemaking
10/12/2012 – NMELC submitted comments with the New Mexico Environment Department on draft changes to the state’s copper mine regulations. Submitted Comments on September 13th Draft
Read press release: Copper Mining Company Allowed to Write Copper Mining Regulations | Throws Out Protections for New Mexico Groundwater