NewsEnvironmentalists rally against New Mexico's $500 million water treatment bid

Environmentalists rally against New Mexico's $500 million water treatment bid

HUNTINGTON BEACH, CA - JANUARY 08: An off-shore oil platform can be seen in the distance at sunset from the Huntington Beach Pier in Huntington Beach on Monday, January 8, 2024. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images)
HUNTINGTON BEACH, CA - JANUARY 08: An off-shore oil platform can be seen in the distance at sunset from the Huntington Beach Pier in Huntington Beach on Monday, January 8, 2024. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images)
Images source: © GETTY | MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images
9:41 PM EST, January 23, 2024

In a bold move to address water scarcity, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has proposed a $500 million plan to recycle oil-industry wastewater. This initiative, aimed at treating and repurposing the salty byproducts of oil and natural gas drilling, is stirring significant debate among environmental activists and industry experts.

Governor's Ambitious Proposal

The governor's plan envisions the development of a new water source by treating and selling water derived from oil and gas drilling processes. It aims to preserve freshwater sources and support industrial activities, including microchip manufacturing and hydrogen fuel production. However, this proposal has met skepticism and opposition from various environmental and social justice groups. They argue that the plan might encourage more water-intensive fracking activities, relying on unproven technologies that could further strain New Mexico's aquifers​​.

Environmental Concerns and Opposition

Critics of the initiative, including groups like Pueblo Action Alliance and New Energy Economy, express concerns that the plan benefits the oil and gas industry more than the environment. Worries exist that it could increase fracking activities, exacerbating the issue it aims to resolve. Environmentalists also advocate more investment in renewable energy sources like wind and solar rather than supporting water-intensive industries​​.

Regulatory Framework and Future Implications

The New Mexico Environment Department has proposed a new regulatory framework to govern the reuse of fracking wastewater. This includes public hearings and formal deliberations on the proposed rules. The focus is on creating "closed loop" projects that treat oil-field water without discharging it, ensuring the safety and sustainability of the initiative. This could significantly impact New Mexico's approach to managing its water resources amid ongoing drought conditions​​if approved.

Sources: WRAL.com; KUNM.org; KANW.com -

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