In New Mexico, it is OK for oil field operators to spill oil and liquid waste into the environment.

Dramatic increases in fracking over the past few years have brought great increases of oil and gas liquid waste. The waste is a combination of fracking flow-back waste and deep, salt-laden groundwater commingled with oil and gas. Operators report four barrels of waste liquid for every barrel of oil.

“Produced water” is the oil and gas industry’s name for its poisonous waste liquid. Permian Basin waste liquids are more than 10 percent salt by weight. All produced water is grossly contaminated and toxic.

Norm Gaume is a native of New Mexico and a graduate of Hobbs High School and New Mexico State University. He is a retired water and wastewater engineer, lives in rural Sandoval County, and subscribes to The New Mexican.