The 2009 New Mexico Legislature and former Gov. Bill Richardson were correct in deciding that the state needs more consistent rules regulating groundwater affected by copper mines. Senate Bill 206, passed by that Legislature and signed by Gov. Richardson, requires the state to adopt regulations to make clear how to manage groundwater that copper mines impact.
Fast forward to 2013. We have a different governor and different appointees working at the New Mexico Environment Department. The rules, designed to bring certainty, have been developed after eight months of hearings among the state, mining interests and environmental groups. The proposed rules have gone from the Environment Department to the Water Quality Control Commission, with hearings scheduled to start Tuesday. For anyone who cares about the state of groundwater — that is, the water underground, source of drinking water for many — these hearings are crucial.
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