Citizens Coalition statement on lack of enforcement of dairy groundwater safeguards

dairy cows dairies

The Rio Grande Chapter is part of a Citizens Coalition to protect rules that safeguard groundwater from dairy waste. This press release was issued March 19, 2014:

When the Martinez Administration’s Water Quality Control Commission compromised public health and the environment by adopting the Copper Rule in September, it also created an alarming precedent to allow pollution of the state’s groundwater rather than requiring prevention of pollution.
The dairy industry was quick to jump at the chance for similar favorable treatment, petitioning the WQCC to gut the recently enacted Dairy Rule after less than a year of implementation.

Meanwhile, the Environment Department has suspended enforcement of the Dairy Rule and issuance of dairy pollution-control permits until after the rulemaking hearing. The hearing, scheduled for March, has now been postponed until November of 2014.

The dairy industry’s petition proposes serious changes to the Dairy Rule that amount to removing much of the language stakeholders spent three years crafting and would return to the less protective rules of 20 years ago, which led to widespread groundwater contamination.

Our coalition of concerned citizens and organizations worked diligently for years and made significant compromises to the industry just to make sure the Dairy Rule was passed and implemented. All stakeholders, including the industry, agreed to these rules.

Placement of monitoring wells, stronger requirements for protective liners in waste-containment facilities, waste backflow-prevention safeguards and waste-management plans for fields used to dispose of untreated waste are all under attack by the dairy industry’s proposed amendments to the current Dairy Rule.

Many of our concerns center around the Governor’s vision of the Environment Department as a subset of the Economic Development Department. Throwing protections for our groundwater out the window is bad for New Mexico businesses, and everyone else. All the Martinez administration has to show for more than three years of a no-holds-barred approach to corporate giveaways is the worst state economy in the West. Our state is 48th in the nation in job growth and worst for disparity between upper and lower incomes.

“Let’s leave the corporate focus to the Economic Development Department and recommit to the vision of our Environment Department’s thoughtful and protective oversight of our precious natural resources” said Camilla Feibelman, Director of the Rio Grande Chapter of the Sierra Club

The Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter provides organizing and communications support to the Citizens Coalition. Camilla Feibelman,, 505-715-8388
The New Mexico Environmental Law Center provides legal representation and advice to the Coalition. Juana Colón, Communications & Public Education Officer, 505-989-9022
The Socially Responsible Agriculture Project works nationally to protect communities and groundwater. Danielle Diamond, Executive Director, 815-403-0278