My highest priority as Cabinet secretary of New Mexico’s Environment Department is to protect our state’s natural resources. I have also promised that I will always consider the potential impacts of environmental regulations on our state’s economy and our ability to create and keep jobs.
Throughout my tenure at the department, first as general counsel and now as secretary, these commitments have guided all of my decisions.
No doubt, you’ve heard many mistruths about the new “Copper Rule.” The truth is that it applies stricter, more consistent guidelines for protecting groundwater beneath copper mines and it replaces an outdated system that was failing to protect our environment and obstructing investment in the state.
The expert testimony provided during the two-week hearing presented a detailed comparison between the proposed Copper Rule and similarly restrictive laws in Arizona and Nevada, concluding that the Copper Rule adopted by the commission in this state is more comprehensive and more protective of groundwater.
Expert testimony also demonstrated that New Mexico’s old system, a system which allowed widespread groundwater contamination at various mine sites in the state, was far less protective than the Copper Rule adopted by the commission.
Perhaps most significantly, the Copper Rule ultimately adopted by the commission was endorsed by the people who would be directly impacted by the new rules – the people of Grant County.