Permit Limits Strengthened at the Chevron Molycorp Mine
Red River (below the fish hatchery)
The New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) recently amended their 401 certification of the federal National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit for discharges to surface waters (the Red River and its tributaries). This amended certification is, in part, a response to letters that Amigos Bravos sent to NMED and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) outlining our concerns that Clean Water Act requirements had not been met when drafting the permit for the mine site. Specifically, we pointed out that the new permit illegally allowed increased discharges of arsenic, mercury and zinc. NMED's new certification requires that permit limits for these pollutants be lowered. EPA will soon be reissuing the permit and reopening the public comment period. Stay tuned for information on how you can send in a comment supporting these new, more protective effluent limitations!
Repeal Copper Rule - Protect New Mexico's Water
The Martinez Administration's copper rule allows copper mining companies to pollute groundwater at mine sites - a violation of the state's Water Quality Act. Amigos Bravos joining with partners at Gila Resources Information Project and Turner Ranch Properties L.P., and represented by the New Mexico Environmental Law Center has appealed the rule all the way to the New Mexico Supreme Court.
The proposed rule:
- Would give the mining industry the right to pollute thousands of acre-feet of groundwater underneath copper mining sites, and would risk groundwater contamination of public water supplies surrounding mining sites for decades and even centuries to come.
- Directly conflicts with the State Water Quality Act, which requires polluters to prevent groundwater contamination under their sites during operations.
- Could pave the way for other polluters to demand similar rollbacks in water quality safeguards and allow the federal labs, dairies, wastewater treatment plants, and other industries to pollute under their sites and further risk groundwater pollution of public water supplies. This would lower the cost of doing business for the polluter while transferring the costs of clean up and any other public health outcomes directly to the New Mexico taxpayer.
Copper Mine in the southern part of New Mexico
On October 19th, 2015, we filed our brief with New Mexico Supreme Court. The brief outlines why the Court should set aside the state's Copper Mine Rule, which regulates the discharge of copper mining pollution into groundwater. The state Court of Appeals upheld the regulations in May, even though the Rule neither prevents water pollution nor protects New Mexico's limited ground water supplies as required by the New Mexico Water Quality Act. The Supreme Court agreed to review the case in June. The brief was filed by the New Mexico Environmental Law Center (NMELC) on behalf of Gila Resources Information Project (GRIP), Amigos Bravos and Turner Ranch Properties, L.P. The New Mexico Attorney General's office has also appealed the rule.
Freeport McMoRan, the world's largest publicly-owned copper mining company, worked closely with the New Mexico Environment Department to draft the Rule, which was adopted in 2013. In 2015 the Court of Appeals upheld the State's adoption of the Rule. The State Attorney General and a former State Groundwater Bureau Chief have also filed briefs with the Supreme Court requesting that the Rule be thrown out.
The brief requests that the Supreme Court reverse the Court of Appeals' opinion and set aside the Rule. Appellants also request that the Supreme Court remand the Rule to the Water Quality Control Commission to adopt a regulation that prevents water pollution at copper mines in accordance with the NM Water Quality Act.
For more information, please visit:
Attorney General Balderas
Remains Firmly Opposed to New Copper Rule
The Martinez Administration is pressuring Attorney General Balderas to back down from his opposition to the industry-friendly State Copper Rule. Amigos Bravos urges stakeholders to tell Attorney General Balderas they support his clean water stance and his firm position in the face of pressure from mining giants like Freeport-McMoRan and Martinez Administration officials at the New Mexico Environment Department.
Please visit our Take Action Center
to share a letter of appreciation with the Attorney General!
Amigos Bravos Welcomes
New Executive Director
and New Staff Member
This past year has been a time of transition for the organization. After many years of service to the cause of clean water, Brian Shields announced his retirement from the role of Executive Director of Amigos Bravos. We are happy to report that after a diligent search process, the Board of Directors has identified the next Executive Director of Amigos Bravos. It is my pleasure to announce that Mr. Joseph ("Joe") Zupan will begin serving that role on January 4, 2016.
Mr. Joseph ("Joe") Zupan, PE, Executive Director
Joe grew up in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in southern Colorado, where the traditional family business was a small fruit orchard. For the past twelve years, he held the position of president of an employee-owned full-service environmental, health and safety consulting firm headquartered in Austin, Texas and has worked as an environmental engineer for many years. He had already decided to step down from his role at the consulting firm to seek fresh challenges and opportunities by committing himself to New Mexico and the Taos community by planning a move here with his family at the end of the year. He was very excited to learn of the vacancy at Amigos Bravos as his life-long commitment to environmental stewardship, his expertise in the technical and policy aspects of environmental protection, and his connection to the region make Joe a perfect fit for Amigos Bravos!
Membership and Communication Coordinator
Loe started with Amigos Bravos as the Membership and Communications Coordinator in December 2015. She
is primarily responsible for cultivating and managing an active and engaged membership base, creating and implementing an organization wide media plan, planning and coordinating outreach activities and events including the annual Raffle for the Rio, and assisting the Executive Director in maintaining communications with major donors. As a youth, she worked in agriculture, enjoyed numerous outdoor experiences, and developed a strong interest in addressing health and environmental issues that affect our communities. She is very excited about work with Amigos Bravos as she is keenly aware of the value of work resolving water resource protection issues. She lives and works on a 15-acre organic farm south of Taos, New Mexico and during the growing season, she can be found selling farm-fresh produce at the weekly Taos Farmers' Market.
All of us at Amigos Bravos extend our deepest gratitude for your faith, trust and non-stop support over the past year - never have New Mexico's waters been under greater threat than they are right now and never has the work of Amigos Bravos been more important to assure that future generations have clean water to drink. Amigos Bravos is committed - and has the knowledge, skill, and experience - to provide the strongest community response possible in the year ahead!
May the magic and wonder of the holiday season flow with you throughout 2016!
The Board of Directors and Staff at Amigos Bravos