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New Mexicans Call on Governor Lujan Grisham to Protect Public Health from Toxic Fracking Waste
Santa Fe, NM – Representatives from Youth United for Climate Crisis Action (YUCCA), New Energy Economy, and WildEarth Guardians delivered a new report to Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham today, highlighting the need for urgent action to protect public health from toxic oil and gas waste.
Activists delivered a letter and held a press conference outside the Governor’s office in front of a tower of over 300 “Toxic Produced Water” cans, symbolizing the more than 300 spills so far in New Mexico in 2020 – three spills each day – which are already contaminating land and water and creating a current public health crisis across New Mexico.
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For every barrel of oil produced, industry consumes an average of 3 barrels of fresh water, and produces 4-7 times as much toxic “produced water.” Hardly water, this “produced water” is too toxic to treat, and is actually a dangerous cocktail of radioactive materials, heavy metals, proprietary fracking chemicals, and other contaminants known to be carcinogenic and dangerous to human health and the environment.
Speaking to the crowd, WildEarth Guardians’ Senior Climate and Energy Campaigner, Rebecca Sobel, said:
“Climate change is ravaging New Mexico, leading to more severe droughts and water shortages. In response, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham is endorsing the use of the oil and gas industry’s toxic wastewater to replenish drinking water supplies, irrigate crops, and fill rivers. Her policy position is an extremely reckless approach to regulating the fossil fuel industry and stands to leave New Mexico’s diminishing water supplies poisoned and unusable.
Governor Lujan Grisham has said that dumping fracking industry waste onto farms, into streams, and into drinking water supplies, would be “Good for New Mexico.”
You know what would be good for New Mexico? Actually protecting New Mexicans from a tsunami toxic spills of frack waste.”
According to the report, which was released last week by Earthworks, “more than 1.4 million gallons of produced wastewater have ended up running over the surface of the earth from 327 spills in the first eight months of 2020 alone. The total volume spilled would cover 4.4 acres with one foot of liquid oil and gas toxic wastewater.” Only 40% of contaminants spilled into the environment were recovered. Horrifyingly, these spills are permitted, the cost of doing business-as-usual, and are largely preventable with the most frequently cited cause of discharges being equipment failure.
Every day oil and gas waste is leaked, spilled, and exploded across New Mexico due to industry’s improper storage, processing, and disposal of its waste.
In response, WildEarth Guardians last month petitioned the New Mexico Oil Conservation Commission to adopt a rule that would make spills of toxic fracking waste illegal.
This Thursday October 15, the Commission will decide whether to hold a hearing on WildEarth Guardians’ petition and decide whether to outlaw spills.
Finding regulations glaringly inadequate to address the current risks oil and gas waste poses to the environment, worker safety, and public health, demonstrators today hope the Governor will see the wall of toxic fracking waste outside her window and use the report as an opportunity to course correct and direct her Oil Conservation Division to adopt rules that address the public health crisis the mismanagement of “produced water” is posing.
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