Mast Head

April 2013

In This Issue


from ED/Staff/Board

Brian and Pablo
Brian Shields, Amigos Bravos Executive Director
 (& Pablo)



Upcoming Events


April 30th


Amigos Bravos Testifies on Behalf the New Mexico's Drinking Water


 Re: bogus rules for preventing pollution from 

Copper mines


Santa Fe

New Mexico Capitol Building 
490 Old Santa Fe Trail 
Room 307
9am - 6pm

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May 15 - 19
Rivers Run Through Us:
5 Days,  5 Sites, One River
Poetry,  music, performance, stories, picnics, art walks, guided hikes along the Santa Fe River
a project of Littleglobe 

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May 21st
The Amigos Bravos Monthly "Water Matters" Lecture Series 
Rivers Run Through Us
Artists Bobbe Besold, Valerie Martínez, 
and Dominique Mazeaud
Santa Fe

Santa Fe Community Foundation


Are you a member 

of Amigos Bravos?


Amigos Bravos Board of Directors  
meeting in Santa Fe

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Find us on Facebook


Contact Info:

Amigos Bravos, Inc.
P.O. Box 238
105-A Quesnel
Taos, New Mexico 87571
Tel: 575-758-3874
Fax: 575-758-7345





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The Southwest Rural Policy Network is comprised of fourteen organizations from Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado, each working on a variety of social issues that affect the people and communities of the rural Southwest. Amigos Bravos has been a member of the Network for 5 years.   

To learn more, please visit;



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Youth Symposium
Lucy Sanchez and Albuquerque Students at the Amigos Bravos Youth Symposium





We value your feedback regarding all aspects of our work!

Would you like to support the preservation of the cultural and ecological richness of New Mexico's waters?



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Linda & Carol
Linda Gomez, Amigos Bravos Office and Database Manager w/ Carol Hardison, Amigos Bravos Bookkeeper

 Join our efforts today by becoming a member or making a contribution toAmigos Bravos at











      In this issue, we are focused on immediate efforts to safeguard New Mexico's future drinking water from copper mine pollution. Amigos Bravos and our experts will testify this week before the Water Quality Control Commission. Decisions on those safeguards (or lack of them) will follow. Please scroll down to learn about highly controversial actions by the Martínez administration in relation to mining regulations; hearings currently taking place in Santa Fe; and, how you can participate from both near and far.  


We are also happy to announce  the annual

Amigos Bravos Raffle for the Rio!  The winner of the raffle will get to choose between a beautiful acre of land in the foothills of northern New Mexico, OR airfare and lodging for two at the Pisac Inn nearby Machu Picchu, Peru, OR $3,000 cash.  To purchase tickets, call the Amigos Bravos office (575-758-3874) or visit our website.


Looking ahead, we encourage you to mark your calendar for the marvelous annual  Rivers Run Through Us  celebration of the Santa Fe River (see sidebar), May 15-19, featuring five days of performances and interactive events at five different sites along the Santa Fe River.


On May 21st at 5:30pm, the Amigos Bravos  "Water Matters" Lecture, to be presented at the Santa Fe Community Foundation, will feature three artists - Bobbe Besold, Valerie Martínez, and Dominque Mazeaud of the Rivers Run Through Us team -  speaking about their community engagement project in relation to the endangered Santa Fe River.




San Lorenzo River, Gila Watershed 
photo credit: Connie Odé




to listen to and watch the proceedings online, go to:



 Copper mines, like all hard rock mines, are notorious for polluting groundwater. They are the pollution giants of the southwestern part of New Mexico. 


The process for creating regulations that will set criteria for the protection of groundwater by copper mining operations is currently underway in Santa Fe. This rule-making process allows stakeholders to present testimony for or against proposed rules and to suggest alternative measures. It is the opinion of Amigos Bravos and its experts that the proposed rules, in their current form, are contrary to New Mexico's Water Quality Act, the primary law that protects drinking water.   


The proposed rules are so controversial that the New Mexico Environment Department is not allowing any of their own experts to testify. Instead, they have hired experts who have made their reputations by testifying on behalf of the mining industry.


Initially, because the Martínez administration had no technical staff for developing copper rules, they hired Bill Olson (director of the Ground Water Quality Bureau under Richardson) to head up an Advisory Committee comprised of Amigos Bravos, Gila Resources Information Project, and representatives from the mining industry.  This committee met for six months, for 2-3 full day meetings every month, in Albuquerque. Columbine Hondo/ Big Horn Sheep
In good faith, Amigos Bravos devoted considerable resources toward the creation of a proposed set of regulations. We were represented by technical expert, Jim Kuipers of Montana, who has been Amigos Bravos' mining consultant since the late 1990's, and legal expert, Bruce Frederick, of the New Mexico Environmental Law Center. Although Amigos Bravos compromised on some issues during the process, we felt that the mining industry also compromised on certain issues, and that together we had been able to produce a good set of regulations. Those regulations were then sent to the Secretary of the Environment's office. When the draft rule was released, however, it had no resemblance to what had been discussed and proposed by the Advisory Committee. The surprise version, currently being proposed by the  New Mexico Environment Department, will allow for the creation of a "sacrifice zone" directly beneath copper mines, thus allowing for pollution of groundwater. This is unacceptable.  


In a telling side event, after the Advisory Committee was disbanded and Bill Olson's contract came to a close, he decided to present testimony in opposition to the surprise proposed rules that the Secretary had handed down. NMED then sued Olson for unfounded breach of contract and asked that the Water Quality Control Commission not accept parts of his testimony. Olson has prevailed and testified at the hearings this past week. His testimony will continue on Tuesday, April 30th, followed by testimony by Brian Shields, Executive Director Amigos Bravos.  Amigos Bravos is represented by Tracy Hughes of High Desert Energy + Environment Law Partners, L.L.C..  Sally Smith, of Gila Resources Information Project, will also testify this coming week, as well as technical expert, Jim Kuipers, speaking on behalf of Turner Enterprises. Also opposing the rule is the Office of the Attorney General, represented by Tanis Fox. 


Members of the Water Quality Control Commission (WQCC) were appointed by Governor Martínez. Thus, approval of the ill-advised rules is likely. In that case, Amigos Bravos will take the WQCC's decision to court to uphold the Water Quality Act. It is important that members and the public direct their opinions to the WQCC, as those comments will become part of the public record and the courts will take those comments into consideration when making their decision. 


Please email your letters to:    


For help writing your letter, call the Amigos Bravos office or email and put "Copper Rules Letter" in the subject heading. 


To listen & watch the proceedings online, go to: