News & Events
NEW MEXICO MINING COMMISSION DENIES EFFORT TO WEAKEN PROTECTIONS IN MINING RULES
SANTA FE, N.M.— The New Mexico Mining Commission voted today to deny an effort by the humate mining industry to further weaken protections in the New Mexico Mining Act regulations. A September 17th decision by the Mining Commission allowed humate mines to disturb twice as many acres without doing the environmental review required for other mines this size under the Mining Act. Not satisfied with the ability to disturb twice as much land as other mines, the humate mining industry submitted a motion to reconsider the September decision. The Mining Commission denied their motion.
Amigos Bravos, represented by New Mexico Environmental Law Center (NMELC), opposed both the September rule change and today's motion to reconsider. Amigos Bravos and the NMELC argued that the humate mining industry had not provided either new evidence nor any reason why the Mining Commission’s earlier decision was defective.
“This is a victory for the environment” said Rachel Conn, Amigos Bravos Project Director. “Mining activities have the potential to cause substantial harm to water and wildlife and therefore environmental review is appropriate and necessary for large humate mines."
For the full press release, cick here.
Conservationists Applaud BLM’s Decision To Defer Oil & Gas Drilling Near Cebolla, New Mexico!
The Bureau of Land Management (“BLM”) Taos Field Office announced the deferral of 16 parcels encompassing 13,300 acres of public lands near Cebolla, New Mexico, from the October 2014 oil and gas lease sale, instead opting to conduct additional analysis.
The Western Environmental Law Center (WELC) and Amigos Bravos submitted extensive comments to the agency identifying serious detrimental impacts on the community’s drinking water, as well as to air quality and the climate if these public lands are fracked for oil and gas. The groups specifically noted the area’s critical role as headwaters to the Rio Grande, as well as the fact that the shale formation where the drilling would occur lies perilously above the groundwater aquifer.
For the full Press Release, please click here.
H.R. 3189, known as the Water Rights Protection Act would allow private water users to dry up rivers on public lands with no regard for other needs. It would tie the hands of federal agencies responsible for managing water on our public lands. And if this passes, the bill would prevent agencies like the Forest Service from ensuring sufficient water flows in the nation's rivers for fish, wildlife, and recreation.
Please call your member of Congress and ask them to vote NO on HR 3189
Ben Ray Lujan: 202-225-6190
Michelle Lujan-Grisham: 202-225-6315
Steve Pearce: (202) 225-2365
Action Alert! Help Protect the Gila River
The Gila River is New Mexico's last free-flowing river. Sign the E-petition to protect the Gila River from unnecessary diversions.
Originating in America's first wilderness, the Gila is rich in biological diversity and cultural history. The Gila's natural flows support outstanding examples of southwest riparian forest, the highest concentrations of breeding birds in America including the endangered southwestern willow flycatcher, a nearly intact native fish community including the endangered loach minnow and spike dace, and the threatened Gila trout.
The Gila provides significant economic value to the region through outdoor recreation and wilderness experience.
In 2004, Congress passed the Arizona Water Settlements Act (AWSA) that authorized diversion of the Gila River if New Mexico agreed to buy water from Arizona to replace what we take out of the river. The AWSA provided $66M for community water projects to meet local water needs and a perverse incentive of up to $62M more if New Mexico elects to divert the Gila River.
Proposed Gila River diversion projects are estimated by the state to cost $349 million, leaving NM taxpayers responsible for the balance - $220 million or more.
A Gila River diversion project is unnecessary, expensive and will harm the Gila River.
An overwhelming majority of New Mexicans believe we should use our current water supplies more wisely and protect the Gila River for people, wildlife and future generations.
Southwestern New Mexico's future water needs can be met cost-effectively through non-diversion alternatives, such as municipal and agricultural conservation, sustainable groundwater management, effluent reuse and watershed restoration.
Tell Governor Susana Martinez to support cost effective, non-diversion alternatives to meet southwest New Mexico's future water needs.
Sign the petition at www.change.org/
For more information and to find out how you can help go to http://protectthegila.org/
NEW MEXICO SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS WATER QUALITY PROTECTIONS
The New Mexico Supreme Court has rejected an attempt by the New Mexico Cattle Growers Association to reverse historic water quality protections put in place by the state Water Quality Control Commission (WQCC) in December of 2010. The ruling puts to rest an extended legal battle over the WQCC’s decision to designate rivers and streams located in Wilderness Areas as Outstanding National Resource Waters (ONRWs). In their unanimous decision the court “quashed” the Cattle Growers last ditch legal maneuver to reverse the protections. The Court found that the cattle growers did not demonstrate “adverse harm” by the protections and thus did not have the standing to challenge the designation. For more information, please see the Press Release.
New Mexico’s Drinking Water Under Attack:
Help Us Defeat Proposed Water Quality Rules for the Copper Mining Industry
On October 10th, 2013, 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. For more information on this development, please see the Press Release.
On September 10, 2013, the New Mexico Water Quality Control Commission (WQCC) voted 9-1 to adopt the proposed water quality rules for the copper mining industry. Click here for the press release with more information. After an 8-month stakeholder process to develop a draft rule that would be protective of groundwater at copper mine sites and provide regulatory certainty to industry, NMED upper-level managers ignored the recommendations of their technical staff and NMED Advisory Committee and rewrote the proposed rule.
If allowed, the rule would:
- Would give the mining industry the right to pollute.
- Is in direct conflict with the State Water Quality Act that 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.
Amigos Bravos Celebrates 25 Years
For 25 years, Amigos Bravos has acted in the belief that our communities should have the technical knowledge and organizational skills to protect and preserve their own local rivers and water. We work hard to provide that knowledge and those skills to communities across the state. In return, we depend on your support so that we can be as quick to respond as possible when threats to our rivers arise. When you support Amigos Bravos through donations or by volunteering, you ensure that all of us – working together – can protect and restore the rivers and waters that sustain us.
The Río Grande del Norte National Monument – established on March 25, 2013 by Presidential Proclamation.
For more information, visit the BLM website