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NMOGA organized a show of force to try to convince Commissioners New Mexico needs their fracking waste

New Mexicans voice their opposition to fracking waste discharge and reuse at the hearing.

Yesterday, on Day 3 of the fracking waste reuse hearing NMOGA clearly recognized the magnitude of public opposition showing up and its impact on the Commission based on their lines of questioning. They organized a string of commenters to repeat their fear mongering argument that New Mexico needs their dirty waste in order to deal with the shortage of water that is being caused by the climate change resulting from their own industry!

Help us show the Commission that New Mexicans defend water, but we reject fracking waste disposed on agricultural fields and falsely labeled as "water"! If you haven't done so already, please sign the petition and show up for public comment online today at 1pm or tomorrow at 9AM or 1PM at:

Thus far NMED has testified unequivocally that it DOES NOT HAVE THE SCIENCE to permit discharge - discharge of produced water will harm humans and the environment. However, our position is that the Commission should not only prohibit discharge, it should also prohibit ANY use outside the oil fields, except in permitted projects for research. One of the problems with the proposed rule? It does not require a permit for demonstration or industrial projects. The Produced water act states under 70-13-4 D NMSA:

For uses regulated by the water quality control commission pursuant to the Water Quality Act, a person shall obtain a permit from the department of environment before using the produced water, the recycled or treated water or treated product or any byproduct of the produced water.

But the proposed "Reuse" rule requires only a Notice of Intent for demonstration and industrial projects, a toothless requirement that NMED witnesses testified they have no authority to deny, even if an entity had previously spilled toxic waste and contaminated New Mexico land and water. NMED's expert conceded "Spills Happen." The failure to include a permitting process in the rule to protect New Mexicans is unlawful.

Under cross examination NMED also testified that in the last five years they have collected no data, that they cannot present data due to an inadequate IT system, and that they don't have the capacity to oversee and ensure scientific studies include rigorous methodology, chain of custody, repeat testing or peer review.  They further testified that they don't have the capacity to oversee "pilot projects," even the 7 - 11 pilot projects already operational in the oil field pursuant to Produced Water Act, that they don't have the authority to enforce compliance, even when there is wrongdoing, and that they are reliant on the Produced Water Research Consortium for data. 

NMED's reliance on the NM Produced Water Research Consortium data is "underwhelming," and WildEarth Guardians' cross examination of the Consortium's Director Hightower underscored the extremely limited and flawed pilot projects and the lack of science and rigorous documentation produced by the Consortium.

If you will recall, that Consortium is populated and funded primarily by oil and gas industry representatives. As reported in Bleeding New Mexico Dry: The Truth Behind Governor's Lujan Grisham's Proposed Strategic Water Supply the Consortium's "work has been funded by ExxonMobil ($416,700), Chevron ($275,000), NGL Energy Partners ($333,300) and Tallgrass ($16,600), with a pending commitment from Solaris Water Midstream.[19] Its current membership includes these five companies as well as ConocoPhillips, Hilcorp Energy Company, Mewbourne Oil Company, Occidental Petroleum Corporation, Intrepid Potash and Select Water Solutions – all major donors to Lujan Grisham’s campaigns." 

And yet this rule proposes to expand the scope of experimentation and industrial projects across the state based on this limited, underwhelming data put forward by the industry funded Consortium. Director Hightower even admitted to their vision for Eddy and Lea County, who they imagine will buy large amounts of their dubiously treated toxic, radioactive waste to water agricultural fields. 

Thank you to all who have provided public comment and showed up to tell the WQCC how it is their responsibility to protect human health and the environment from the ravages of oil and gas greed and despoliation.


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