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Copper Mine Rule will protect our groundwater

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In September of last year, New Mexico’s Water Quality Control Commission approved and adopted the Copper Mine Rule. Crafted by the New Mexico Environment Department, the Copper Mine Rule is the culmination of many months of deliberation and collaboration among scientific, academic, environmental and industry experts, all focused on the same goal: smart, balanced regulations that provide more reliable protections for groundwater beneath copper mines.

As residents and elected officials in Grant County, we endorsed the adoption of the Copper Mine Rule for two primary reasons: the groundwater protections it provides, and the careful process by which the regulations were developed.

Not only does the Copper Mine Rule represent the most thorough regulatory requirements for protecting groundwater of any Western copper producing state, but it also takes into account the critical impact the copper mining industry has on our state’s and our community’s economic well-being.

Perhaps we should not be surprised to see a handful of activists pursuing litigation with hopes of repealing the new rule. It is disappointing, however, they are distorting the truth to promote their point of view and disregarding the overwhelming support the new regulation has and continues to receive from those most directly impacted by copper mining.

Grant County represents the heart of New Mexico copper mining, and we are the citizens whose groundwater the new regulations are primarily designed to protect. We understand what is at stake, and we take seriously our commitment to protecting the best interests of our citizens.

Under Ryan Flynn’s direction, the NMED took a very thoughtful, scientific approach to crafting the Copper Mine Rule, based (on) the latest technologies. The process engaged scientific, academic, industry and environmental representatives, and perhaps, of most importance to us, it took into account the opinions of Grant County leaders and community members.

This included a public hearing in Silver City, where many citizens offered their comments of support.

The new rule sets forth a revitalized framework and finally imposes the safeguards our citizens and our groundwater deserve. It replaces an outdated, lethargic system created several decades ago, which proved to be inconsistent in nature while also stifling expansion and job creating opportunities critical to our region.

That is why the business community along with mayors from the surrounding communities supported Gov. Susana Martinez, Flynn and the NMED as the Copper Mine Rule was discussed and deliberated.

While a small group of critics may continue to distort and misrepresent the facts, we encourage anyone interested in learning more about the Copper Mine Rule to visit nmcopperrules.com.

In our opinion, the Copper Mine Rule represents a win for balance, inclusion, collaboration and environmental protections based on science.

That makes it a win for much more than Grant County, but for all New Mexicans.

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