An environmental watchdog group is criticizing a decision by the state of New Mexico to join a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency. The suit claims the EPA overreached its authority with a new rule that gives more streams and tributaries federal pollution protection.
New Mexico is one of 13 states who are suing over the rule, but environmental advocates are concerned the state’s push against federal protections could leave waterways vulnerable to pollution.
Rachel Conn is with the nonprofit Amigos Bravos. She says keeping federal control of water pollution is especially important here, because New Mexico is one of only a few states where the EPA directly manages pollution permits in streams and rivers.
"And so if we lose federal authority over these waters, there is no state mechanism in place to make sure that those waters are protected under the New Mexico Water Quality Act," she said.
But officials with the state disagree. New Mexico Environment Department Secretary Ryan Flynn said in a statement that “local oversight, local control, and local communication lead to the most effective protection of the state’s waters, streams, and tributaries.”