Photo 27 Aug 54 notes Proposed rules could give copper mines free rein to pollute water

A state water quality commission will soon vote on a proposed copper mining rule that some experts say violates state law, could upend New Mexico’s long efforts to protect groundwater and would give other industries in the state a loophole to pollute aquifers.
Currently, state law prohibits pollution of groundwater above water quality standards by any industry, but the Environment Department has provided some exceptions through variances.
The proposed new rule would let copper mine operations contaminate groundwater without variances, as long as the contamination was contained and fully removed up to state standards before the mine closed. Specifically, the change would allow Freeport-McMoRan Copper and Gold to contaminate groundwater beneath any of its Southern New Mexico mining properties, as long as it followed the containment and cleanup regulations.
The copper mining industry and the Cabinet secretary for the state’s Environment Department contend the rule will streamline the permitting process and is more protective of groundwater than current regulations….
But a former state regulator, the New Mexico attorney general and environmentalists say the language in the proposed rule sets a dangerous precedent: Other industries, like Los Alamos National Laboratory and a gold mine in the works near Santa Fe, could claim a legal right to pollute groundwater beneath their properties without variances.
The Gila Resource Information Project, the Rio Grande Chapter of the Sierra Club and Amigos Bravos all oppose the proposed copper rule. New Mexico Attorney General Gary King has asked the Water Quality Control Commission to send the copper rule back to the New Mexico Environment Department “on the ground that the rule as proposed violates the Water Quality Act.”

(via The Santa Fe New Mexican)

Proposed rules could give copper mines free rein to pollute water

A state water quality commission will soon vote on a proposed copper mining rule that some experts say violates state law, could upend New Mexico’s long efforts to protect groundwater and would give other industries in the state a loophole to pollute aquifers.

Currently, state law prohibits pollution of groundwater above water quality standards by any industry, but the Environment Department has provided some exceptions through variances.

The proposed new rule would let copper mine operations contaminate groundwater without variances, as long as the contamination was contained and fully removed up to state standards before the mine closed. Specifically, the change would allow Freeport-McMoRan Copper and Gold to contaminate groundwater beneath any of its Southern New Mexico mining properties, as long as it followed the containment and cleanup regulations.

The copper mining industry and the Cabinet secretary for the state’s Environment Department contend the rule will streamline the permitting process and is more protective of groundwater than current regulations….

But a former state regulator, the New Mexico attorney general and environmentalists say the language in the proposed rule sets a dangerous precedent: Other industries, like Los Alamos National Laboratory and a gold mine in the works near Santa Fe, could claim a legal right to pollute groundwater beneath their properties without variances.

The Gila Resource Information Project, the Rio Grande Chapter of the Sierra Club and Amigos Bravos all oppose the proposed copper rule. New Mexico Attorney General Gary King has asked the Water Quality Control Commission to send the copper rule back to the New Mexico Environment Department “on the ground that the rule as proposed violates the Water Quality Act.”

(via The Santa Fe New Mexican)

#copper #mining #water pollution #aquifer #New Mexico #environment #drinking water #pollution

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    Grr…these industries make me mad. They won’t see any other way except for getting exactly what they want. They are so...
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