Most of New Mexico’s environmental programs are managed by the state departments of health and environment. The state also runs the Department of Energy, Minerals, and Natural Resources, which is responsible for forestry, parks, soil and water conservation, and regulation of the mining industry.
Much of New Mexico’s conservation efforts focus on controlling groundwater pollution, maintaining air quality, and keeping the biodiversity of the forests and wilderness areas. Progress is being made in efforts to reduce pollution; in the period 1995–2000 the amount of toxic chemicals discharged into the environment was reduced by 98 percent.
Protection of groundwater resources is a high priority in New Mexico. In a 1987 study the state’s groundwater program was rated one of the ten best in the nation. Much of the population depends on groundwater for industrial, agricultural, and drinking purposes. Major contaminants of concern include organic chemicals, nitrates (from fertilizer), sulfates, brine, and metal salts.
Although air quality in most of New Mexico is quite good, several areas at one time experienced poor air quality. Albuquerque and surrounding Bernalillo County consistently exceeded the standard for carbon monoxide in the 1980s, but by the early 1990s were in compliance with federal regulations. Other counties have had difficulty in controlling dust and wood smoke.
The Four Corners area, in the northwest, has received national attention for its suspected contribution to acid rain, because of its large coal-burning power plants. In the mid-1980s, New Mexico began a program to control toxic air pollution.
In 1986 New Mexico required that all hazardous waste be exported to other states for disposal. In 2008 the state had 13 hazardous waste sites on the federal priority list for cleanup due to their severity or proximity to people. New Mexico has its own program to deal with other waste sites.
Of special concern is a federal radioactive materials facility, the Waste Isolation Pilot Project, near Carlsbad. The U.S. government has constructed this facility to store certain radioactive waste deep underground. In 1990 a law was passed that establishes a comprehensive program for solid waste; the program includes recycling, source reduction, and reuse of waste. "New Mexico" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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