New Mexico raises concerns over proposed federal water rule

March 22, 2019

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico Environment Department wants to withdraw from a federal lawsuit challenging Obama-era protections for waterways and wetlands across the country.

The department filed a motion Thursday, saying the positions taken in the lawsuit are inconsistent with its stance on proposed revisions to the water rule that were issued last month by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The department says the proposed definition for waterways that would be protected under the rule would exclude most of New Mexico’s waters.

Environment Secretary James Kenney says all water in New Mexico — from the Rio Grande to groundwater and seasonal streams — must be afforded legal protections.

Combined with the effects of climate change, the state argues that New Mexico’s waters may become more intermittent and therefore even less protected under the proposed rule.