New Mexico environment secretary testifies before Senate on groundwater contamination

Politics - Government

NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – New Mexico’s Environment Secretary testified before a U.S. Senate committee on Wednesday about the groundwater contamination at two-state Air Force bases. The groundwater contamination at Cannon and Holloman Air Force Bases was caused by decades-long use of firefighting foam that contained PFAS.

The contamination threatened public health, the environment, and the economy. After New Mexico asked the federal government to clean up the contamination, and later sued the feds.

Secretary James Kenney urged Congress to recognize that discarded PFAS is a hazardous waste that should be regulated from manufacture to disposal. “Simply stated, the mission of my department is to protect the health of New Mexicans. The reality is, I can’t do that when it comes to PFAS. It’s not due to lack of scientific data or remedial technology. What we’re lacking is a federal regulatory framework for PFAS.”

Kenney also asked Congress to provide additional funding to states like New Mexico that incur additional costs relating to contamination from PFAS. The Environment Department is investigating the contamination.

“Funding, funding, funding,” said Kenney. “We cannot manage the workload we have right now as I stated,” said Kenney. “I cannot ask my legislature to keep funding work that has no regulatory background and we still need to protect our citizens.”

Some other states at Wednesday’s hearing dealing with similar PFAS contamination issues from military bases were West Virginia, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.  

The contamination has also affected New Mexico dairy. A Clovis dairy owner learned the milk his cows were producing was tainted because the cows were drinking from that water supply. He was dumping up to 15,000 gallons of milk a day and ultimately had to exterminate most of his cows. The state said the contaminated water continues to spread.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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