Last week, the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico issued an opinion favorable to state rights in a U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) lawsuit disputing the terms of a New Mexico Environment Department hazardous waste permit issued to Cannon Air Force Base. Finding that the dispute belongs in state court rather than federal court, the court also affirmed that DOD does not have sovereign immunity under the Resource Conservation & Recovery Act (RCRA) regarding appeals of hazardous waste permits.
The decision comes on the heels of an August 5 hearing in Clovis, New Mexico in which NMED Secretary and ECOS Cross-Media Chair Jim Kenney testified about the Highland Dairy farm in Clovis, which was forced to euthanize 3,665 cows due to PFAS contamination from Cannon.
In the past couple of years, NMED and the New Mexico Office of the Attorney General have filed suit against the Air Force to compel the military to address PFAS contamination around the state. Specifically, the agencies alleged violations of the state’s Hazardous Waste Act and requested payment for abatement activities to bring water into compliance.
Kenney says that with the renewed validation affirming states’ rights under RCRA, the state will continue to move with urgency to enforce the Cannon permit, compel cleanup, and protect communities from PFAS contamination.