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Following a complete and comprehensive hearing on the Copper Mine Rule, the Water Quality Control Commission (WQCC) voted to adopt the Copper Mine Rule as proposed by the Environment Department, on September 10, 2013. The WQCC filed its Order and Statement of Reasons on September 25, 2013. The WQCC’s adoption of the rule and its substantial commitment of time and resources allowed it to hear from experts in the field, consider public comments, weigh the evidence before it, and develop a full record strictly informed by science and technology. The Copper Mine Rule was published in the New Mexico Register on October 31, 2013 as 20.6.7 NMAC, and became effective on December 1, 2013. The rule fulfills legislative direction to the WQCC to adopt rules for the copper mining industry.
On October 9, 2013 the Gila Resource Information Project (GRIP), Amigos Bravos and Turner Ranch Properties, L.P. (TRP) filed notices of appeal of the Copper Mine Rule with the New Mexico Court of Appeals, and on the following day Attorney General Gary King and William Olson filed similar appeals with the court. In response, Freeport-McMoRan Chino Mines Company, Freeport-McMoRan Tyrone Inc., and Freeport-McMoRan Cobre Mining Company have been granted the right to intervene as Appellees and, along with the WQCC, filed briefs before the Court of Appeals to defend the development of the Copper Rules and the WQCC’s process for ensuring these rules are scientifically and technically sound. In April 2015, the Court of Appeals unanimously affirmed the WQCC’s adoption of the Copper Rules. That decision is currently under review by the New Mexico Supreme Court, the last stop in the appeals process.