Martinez administration continues effort to roll back water quality protections and public participation
In a second round of proposed changes to surface water and groundwater quality regulations, the NM Environment Department has put forth additional language to weaken water quality safeguards for the benefit of polluters and limit opportunities for public participation in permitting processes. Additional new language relaxes the water quality standard for chromium and despite public comment in opposition, would continue to allow industry to obtain variances from water quality regulations for an unlimited duration rather than for a five-year period as mandated by the state’s Water Quality Act.
In a document recently acquired under the Inspection of Public Records Act labeled “Hit list for Regulation Changes” produced by Ground Water Quality Bureau staffers at NMED, the Copper Rule was cited as a model for how to ease the permitting of polluting facilities and reduce opportunities for public participation.
The second draft of proposed revisions to water quality rules includes limitations on the ability of the public to present argument and evidence to the Water Quality Control Commission to reconsider granting a variance and shifts the burden of proof onto the public rather than the polluter.
NMED is requesting public comment on its second draft of proposed rule changes by October 17. GRIP will be submitting detailed comments to NMED. The September 19 draft rule changes are available on the NMED website.