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Guardians Calls on New Mexico Governor to Pause Frackwater Dumping Plans
“Dumping frackwater into streams and drinking waters, and onto crops would devastate New Mexico’s health and environment,” said Jeremy Nichols, Climate and Energy Program Director for WildEarth Guardians. “The Governor needs to rethink this reckless plan and reconsider dumping waste that is too toxic to treat into the state’s irreplaceable waters.”
In a letter sent today, WildEarth Guardians urged the Governor to halt her Environment Department’s attempt to develop regulations to justify dumping oil and gas industry wastewater “outside of the oil field.”
The letter comes as the Environment Department this week kicks off a series of public stakeholder meetings to discuss their plans to allow frackwater to be dumped in the state. The first meeting is tomorrow in Albuquerque.
Oil and gas extraction produces massive amounts of wastewater. This waste is produced during hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and is pumped from the ground in the process of producing oil and gas.
Often referred to as “produced water,” this waste is too toxic to treat. It contains radioactive materials, salts, and heavy metals. The industry has to either discard this wastewater by injecting it deep underground through disposal wells or reuse the water for fracking.
Facing rising costs, the oil and gas industry has lobbied state officials to roll-back environmental and health safeguards and make it easier to dump their wastewater. In 2019, the New Mexico Legislature passed the “Produced Water Act,” which directed the Environment Department to consider adopting new regulations governing the use of oil and gas wastewater.
However, as WildEarth Guardians highlighted in its letter, “nothing in this recently enacted legislation mandates, indicates, or suggests that New Mexico’s Legislature intended to allow the reckless release of toxic waste into the state’s waters.”
Today’s call comes as Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham last week commented to the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association that her environmental regulators work for the oil and gas industry.
“It’s clear the New Mexico Environment Department isn’t interested in better regulation, their aim is to simply re-label toxic frackwater as safe to drink,” said Nichols. “This isn’t about protecting New Mexico, it’s about appeasing the oil and gas industry. It has to stop.”
Future public stakeholder meetings are scheduled for October 30 in Santa Fe, November 14 in Carlsbad, November 19 in Farmington, and November 25 in Las Cruces.