Defend New Mexico Water from Fracking Waste Contamination by Proposed Wastewater Reuse Rule

Beginning on Monday, May 13th, at an in-person and virtual public hearing in Santa Fe, the New Mexico Environment Department will present its proposal to vastly expand the reuse of produced water from the production of oil and gas to the New Mexico Water Quality Control Commission.  The proposed regulation, called the Wastewater Reuse Rule, would expand the use of fracking waste called “produced water” outside of the oilfield by enabling the development of large-scale demonstration projects and industrial applications throughout the state, with the a prohibition that there be no discharge to surface water or ground water as part of the project., scroll down to green bar for the Water Quality Control Commission and click there, go to first entry “WQCC 23-84:  In the Matter of Proposed Rule 20.6.8 NMAC – Ground and Surface Water Protection – Supplemental Requirements for Water Reuse.”  To review filings in the case, click on the WQCC 23-84 bar.

You can submit your written comments at the last link at “Submit Comments Here.”

In 2022 over 38,700 spills took place in the Permian Basin.  In New Mexico, the statewide average is four spills per day.  State agencies do not have the staff to investigate; thus the majority of those spills do not result in penalties and fines.  Such spills pose significant additional threats to New Mexico’s waterways, land, air and human health. 

There is only one restriction in the Environment Department’s proposed rule: there be no discharge to surface waters or groundwater.  Are spills considered a discharge?

There are no minimum standards required for applying to use produced water within the oilfield other than describing the plan for research, handling, treatment, transportation, disposal, risk abatement, cleanup when a spill occurs, and financial assurance that the project has the financial resources for cleanup after operations cease.  The Environment Department has no discretion to weigh the risks and possible benefits of the plan.  It must approve the plan.

Destiny Ray, an organizer with the New Mexico No False Solutions Campaign, expressed her concern about the proposed rule.  She explained, “As young people who envision a better future for ourselves and generations to come, it’s abundantly clear that the reuse of toxic waste containing hazardous chemicals that cause life-threatening and life-altering disease off the oil field is utterly irresponsible.  We cannot allow state agencies, pressured by industry interests, to gamble with the health of New Mexicans and our collective future.”

The broad Coalition of Indigenous, frontline, youth and climate justice advocates are calling for safe and scientifically sound measures to address New Mexico’s water shortage concerns.  They state:  “Unless and until the effective treatment of the toxic radioactive waste is proven possible and scientific standards for treatment, specific reuse applications, and disposal are established, toxic fracking waste ‘water’ has no place in our communities.”

For instructions about how to give public comment and to learn more:

  1. Friday, May 10th, 2024 from noon to 1 pm MT – Join the weekly peaceful protest for nuclear disarmament on the four corners of Alameda and Sandoval in downtown Santa Fe with Veterans for Peace, CCNS, Nuclear Watch NM, Loretto Community, Pax Christi, Nonviolent Santa Fe, New Mexico Peace Fests, and others. Code Pink Taos will be joining us with the giant puppets Sadako and Amy Goodman.



  1. Monday, May 13th through Friday, May 17th and beyond? – Public Hearing before the New Mexico Water Quality Control Commission (WQCC) about the proposed New Mexico Environment Department’s Wastewater Reuse Rule 23-84 (R) at the NM Capitol. NMED proposes to “solve” the oil and gas industry’s enormous waste problem by reusing toxic fracking waste, aka produced water, for “agriculture, irrigation, potable water supplies, aquifer recharge, industrial processes or environmental restoration. – links to the public notices and links to participate virtually.

To review the filings in the case: , scroll down to the Water Quality Control Commission green tab, click on WQCC 23-84:  In the Matter of Proposed Rule 20.6.8 NMAC – Ground and Surface Water Protection – Supplemental Requirements for Water Reuse. 

For more information:



  1. From Wednesday, March 6 to May 15 (Bi- Weekly) from noon to 1 pm Mountain Time – UNM Climate Change and Human Health ECHO Program: Global Nuclear and Environmental Threats Critical to Climate Change and Human Health.


May 15th Environmental Justice and Environmental Toxicities Panel –  a 90-minute session.  The panel speakers are: 

    • Yohanna Barth-Rogers, MD, Chief Medical Officer, UMMA Community Clinic, Los Angeles, CA
    • Dino Chavarria, Tribal Superfund Working Group, Santa Clara Pueblo, NM
    • Jackie Medcalf, Texas Health & Environment Alliance (THEA) Founder and Executive Director, Houston, TX
    • Sterling Stokes, Campaign Manager for the Portland Harbor Community Coalition, OR



  1. Thursday, May 16 from 5 pm to 8:30 pm – Nuclear Communities in the Southwest, presentation by Myrriah Gómez, PhD at the Albuquerque Museum, 2000 Mountain Road NW, Albuquerque, NM.   

Hear a presentation by Myrriah Gómez author of the book, Nuclear Nuevo México Colonialism and the Effects of the Nuclear Industrial Complex on Nuevomexicanos. Gómez tells a new story of New Mexico, one in which the nuclear history is not separate from the collective colonial history of Nuevo México.

Enjoy the first outdoor concert of the year, with Son Como Son – Salsa Cuban Style.  Make art related to the exhibitions, or do yoga in the galleries.



  1. Monday, May 20thpublic comments due to EPA about its proposed rule allowing open burning / open detonation of hazardous wastes.  Use Earthjustice’s Action Alert to Ban the Practice of Open Burning and Open Detonation of Hazardous Wastes at:

 See last week’s Update for more information:



  1. Wednesday, May 22nd at 1 pm MDT webinar – Join DOE’s Consent-Based Siting Consortia for a Public Roundtable on Successes in Siting one or more federal consolidated interim storage facilities for commercial spent nuclear fuel. To register:  Submit your questions prior to the meeting:

From DOE’s May 1, 2024 post:   DOE Releases Interactive Tool for Audiences Wishing to Learn More About DOE’s Plans to Manage Spent Nuclear Fuel StoryMap to help communities evaluate interest and suitability in being considered as a potential host for a federal consolidated interim storage facility for commercial spent nuclear fuel.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) released an interactive StoryMap for audiences wishing to learn more about federal consolidated interim storage of commercial spent nuclear fuel.

The “Integrated Waste Management (IWM) StoryMap: Consent-Based Siting for Consolidated Interim Storage,” is a free, easy-to-access tool on DOE’s approach to identifying one or more locations for siting facilities to store spent nuclear fuel on an interim basis. It details DOE’s concept for an integrated waste management system, federal consolidated interim storage design and operations, potential benefits and impacts, among other topics.



  1. New Book – The Scientists Who Alerted Us to Radiation’s Dangers by Ian Fairlie, PhD and Beyond Nuclear’s Cindy Folkers, MS about the systemic cover-up of radiation risks and scientists.

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