Chino Copper Mine aka Santa Rita for Sierra Club article on clean water groups appeal copper ruling in NM Supreme Court

By Allyson Siwik, 
Gila Resources Information Project and Chapter Water Committee

There is no limit to how far global mining giant Freeport-McMoRan will go to get its way and legally pollute New Mexico’s groundwater. And the Martinez administration has proved that it is more than willing to help by targeting state officials, including Attorney General Hector Balderas, who are trying to protect New Mexico’s water supplies.

New Mexico Environment Department Secretary Ryan Flynn (a former attorney with Modrall Sperling law firm, which represents Freeport-McMoRan) was recently in Grant County lobbying locals to put pressure on Attorney General Balderas to drop his appeal of the Copper Rule.

This industry-written rule allows copper-mining companies to pollute groundwater underneath mine sites in violation of the state’s Water Quality Act, and it was Flynn who pushed through the polluter-friendly rule over the objections of his own technical staff.

As many of you who attended the public-input meetings in Grant County know, local opponents of the Copper Rule outnumbered supporters by 10 to 1, and the support came from Freeport’s own employees, contractors, and grantees.

Earlier this year, the Court of Appeals upheld the adoption of the rule. Attorney General Balderas, along with clean-water groups (Gila Resources Information Project and Amigos Bravos, represented by New Mexico Environmental Law Center) and former state Groundwater Bureau Chief Bill Olson filed petitions with the New Mexico Supreme Court to request a review of the rule. In July, the Supreme Court granted the petitions filed by all parties and ordered a review of all issues raised.

The Supreme Court’s decision could come some time in 2016.

Click here to read more about the copper rule and thank Attorney General Hector Balderas.

Environment secretary lobbies for industry-written Copper Rule