New Rules Likely In New Mexico After SCOTUS Clear Water Act Ruling
Many environmentalists are unhappy with the US Supreme Court’s ruling last week that sharply narrowed the types of wetlands that can be federally protected in New Mexico and across the country.
But one group very pleased with the ruling is the state’s Home Builders Association.
In the 5-4 vote the Justices ruled wetlands must have a continuous connection to an established navigable waterway to be covered by the Clean Water Act.
The ruling greatly affects New Mexico because the state has no rules regulating discharges into surface water, relying instead on the federal regulations.
New Mexico Home Builders CEO Jack Milarch says the EPA’s rules may be fine for wetter areas around the country, but not in the southwest.
“These are not arid places and when they created the rules and everything that went along with this, it made much more sense if you were living in one of those kind of green, green, (places) where it rains all the time and the water is always running off than it did in arid New Mexico,” he said. “It just didn’t work in these places. So a lot of what we spent twenty years doing was fighting with the EPA to try to get them to redo their rules for an arid desert climate.”
With the EPA rules struck down, New Mexico will likely have to come up with new guidelines on its own.
Just after the ruling Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham released a statement saying she was appalled by the court’s action that left 90-percent of the state’s waters without federal protections.
She says she has directed the administration to immediately begin identifying any regulatory gaps that we can fill at the state level, working together across agencies, the Legislature, communities and with other partners as soon as possible.
Milarch says he hopes home builders will be given a seat at the table when the new regulations are discussed.