Stuff I Wrote Elsewhere: Dairies and Groundwater

Struck by the numbers on dairy industry groundwater contamination in New Mexico, I’ve been poking around in the regulatory issues involved. Here’s a bit of what I found (sub/ad req):

Dairies are found throughout New Mexico, but are especially concentrated in the southeastern part of the state, where growth of industrial dairy operations has made it the largest sector of the state’s agricultural economy, according to a study by University of New Mexico law professor Denise Fort.

The state Environment Department says groundwater beneath 57 percent of the state’s 168 current and former dairies is contaminated in excess of safe drinking water standards.

Among other things, the new regulations would require plastic liners at all new or replacement dairy waste ponds. The industry argues that those liners are costly and ineffective.

Attorneys at the New Mexico Environmental Law Center say a Jan. 12 e-mail from dairy lobbyist Walter Bradley to Martinez’s deputy chief of staff Brian Moore suggests that the industry had the inside track as the executive order delaying the regulations was being prepared.

“Our attorneys (for the Dairy Group) Dal Moellenberg and TJ Trujillo of Gallagher & Kennedy drafted some language for the ex. order,” Bradley wrote. In the e-mail, Bradley offered the industry’s legal help in defending the state against a subsequent lawsuit filed by attorneys at the Environmental Law Center.