New Mexico governor proposes $500M to treat fracking wastewater

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Environmental activists pushed back Monday against an initiative from the governor of New Mexico that would finance the treatment and recycling of oil-industry wastewater, warning that the plan relies on unproven technologies and might propel more water-intensive fracking for oil and natural gas.

Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is seeking legislation and regulatory changes that would allow the state to finance development of a strategic new source of water by buying and selling treated water that originates from the used, salty byproducts of oil and natural gas drilling or from underground saltwater aquifers.

The aim is to help preserve freshwater sources by providing a new source of recycled water for industrial uses, at the same time helping an arid state attract businesses ranging from microchip manufacturers to hydrogen fuel producers.

An array of environmental and social-justice groups gathered outside the Statehouse to denounce the governor’s plan as a handout to the oil and natural gas industry that won’t necessarily decrease pressure on the state’s ancient underground aquifers.

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