FRI: New Mexico proposes regulations to reuse fracking wastewater, + More
New Mexico proposes regulations to reuse fracking wastewater - By Morgan Lee, Associated Press
New Mexico environmental officials have proposed a new regulatory framework for reusing wastewater with a focus on the used, salty byproducts of oil and natural gas drilling in a major U.S. production zone.
The Environment Department announced Thursday its petition to the Water Quality Control Commission to begin formal deliberations on the proposed rules. Public hearings could begin as soon as April.
New Mexico, the No. 2 state for oil production behind Texas, is looking to its energy sector and water-intensive fracking as a potential source of treated water for industrial applications — and to offset water demands that are depleting freshwater aquifers amid drought.
"We need to protect our fresh groundwater supplies not only from degradation or contamination but from overuse," said John Rhoderick, director of the water protection division at the Environment Department. "We need to do everything we can to maintain those supplies because they're not being replenished."
He said initially rules would only allow for "closed loop" projects involving treated oil-field water, with no discharge.
"Although this identifies and encourages pilot projects and demonstration projects, they have to be non-discharging," Rhoderick said. "We feel that's the safest way to do it."
In a related legislative proposal from Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, New Mexico would underwrite development of a strategic new water source by buying treated water that originates from oil and natural gas drilling. The governor is seeking a $500 million appropriation by the Legislature for the project.
That initiative doesn't aim to provide potable water but rather a supply of treated water for emerging businesses ranging from microchip manufacturers to hydrogen fuel producers that separate the element from water in an energy-intensive process. Critics fear the plan might only spur more drilling for petroleum.
Rhoderick said New Mexico communities already reuse about 40% of residential wastewater after treatment and purification to irrigate city parks, playing fields, landscaped roadway medians and more. But broader reuse options are needed to ensure economic and population growth in the future, he said.
"We felt the need to give some clear direction and certainty to industry because we need them to invest in the technologies and the science," said Rhoderick.
The proposed rules are an outgrowth of 2019 state legislation that encourages the oil and natural gas industry to favor water treatment, reuse and recycling over reliance on natural aquifers. Concerns about water overuse include depletion of the vast underground Ogallala Aquifer that sustains communities in eastern New Mexico and extends to the Dakotas and Wyoming.
Collaboration on the proposed rules included a public-private research consortium anchored by New Mexico State University. Private consortium sponsors include energy conglomerates Chevron and ExxonMobile, oil services provider NGL Energy Partners and infrastructure firm Tallgrass Energy, a developer of hydrogen ventures in New Mexico.
Woman dies in MDC custody on Christmas day - KUNM News, Albuquerque Journal
A woman has died in the custody of the Bernalillo Metropolitan Detention Center after she was arrested by the Albuquerque Police Department for an unproven auto theft charge.
As the Albuquerque Journal reports, Olivia Martinez was booked into the jail on Dec 21. after police say she was caught riding as a passenger on a reportedly stolen moped.
Before she died on Christmas Day, court records showed the State had insufficient evidence to proceed with the case – though Martinez was still held on an unrelated warrant for a petty misdemeanor.
Martinez died in a “medical emergency” at the facility on Monday morning.
MDC officials have not given the Journal a cause of death or any other details.
Martinez is the 27th person to die or be fatally injured while being held at MDC since early 2020. She’s the ninth to die this year.
Deutsche Bank pledges nearly $5 million to help combat human trafficking in New Mexico - Associated Press
Deutsche Bank pledged nearly $5 million in funding Thursday to help combat human trafficking in New Mexico, the bank announced in a joint statement with Attorney General Raúl Torrez.
The announcement comes seven months after Deutsche Bank settled a U.S. lawsuit for $75 million that claimed the German lender should have seen evidence that the late Jeffrey Epstein engaged in sex trafficking when he was a client.
Torrez's office has been investigating several financial service companies and their role in what he says is a failure to identify sexual abuse and trafficking of underage girls at Epstein's ranch in Santa Fe County, according to the statement.
"I am pleased that Deutsche Bank recognizes its ongoing responsibility to help us combat this problem," Torrez, a Democrat, said in the statement. "We appreciate the steps they have taken since terminating Jeffrey Epstein as a client in 2018 to strengthen their oversight capabilities and intend to use their pledge to support our ongoing efforts to apprehend traffickers and expand our victim services."
A spokesperson for Deutsche Bank said the lender is pleased to support Torrez "in this important effort, which reflects our industry's shared responsibility to play an active role in safeguarding the financial system."
A woman who alleged she was abused by Epstein had filed a lawsuit in New York against the bank and sought class-action status. She asserted the bank knowingly benefited from Epstein's sex trafficking and "chose profit over following the law" to earn millions of dollars from the businessman. The settlement was reached in May.
In 2020, the bank acknowledged its mistake in taking on Epstein as a client. Epstein killed himself in prison in August 2019 while facing federal criminal charges of sexually abusing dozens of underage girls.
Three youths sent to hospital after riot at Juvenile Detention Center — KUNM news, The Albuquerque Journal
Authorities responded to a riot that occurred at the Bernalillo County Juvenile Detention Center in Albuquerque on Christmas day.
TheAlbuquerque Journal reports three youths were transported to the hospital for minor injuries after order was restored after about five hours on Monday evening.
Officials with the law Office of the Public Defender said both understaffing and overcrowding play a role in contributing to a stressful living environment, and said the governor’s public health order on guns is worsening the situation.
The governor’s office released a statement denying the claims of overcrowding being caused by the order itself, saying the facilities won’t accept more individuals once full, and that although there is a “need to balance rehabilitation with accountability, the fact is that a gun is no less dangerous in the hands of a juvenile.”
“Take a Ride on Us” gives safe, sober rides on NYE — KUNM News
This New Year’s Eve, for the sixth year running the “Take a Ride on Us” program will be offering a discount on Uber trips for Sandoval and Bernalillo county residents.
In a news release, Bernalillo County announced the program is giving out up to 2,000 trips on a first-come first-served basis starting at noon on Dec 29 through 2 am on Jan 2.
Riders can get up to $10 off two trips using the discount code ABQNYE23 in all caps, under the vouchers section of the Uber app.
Originally created by Cumulus Media Albuquerque in 2017, the program is a joint effort of Bernalillo County Behavioral Health Services, the Sandoval County DWI program, Glasheen Valles and Inderman Injury Lawyers, The New Mexico Department of transportation and Cumulus Media.
The program has provided safe and sober rides to more than 38,000 people since it was created, and offers discounts around most of the major federal holidays throughout the year, including St. Patrick’s Day, Cinco de Mayo, Mardi Gras and even Valentine’s Day.