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New Mexico Water Quality Control Comm'n v. Molybdenum Corp. of Am.

Citation: 7 ELR 20077
No. No. 2422, 555 P.2d 375/89 N.M. 552, (N.M. Ct. App., 09/07/1976)

Reversing the lower court, the New Mexico Court of Appeals holds that the Commission need not seek voluntary compliance with its regulations before proceeding against defendant for civil penalties and cleanup costs for alleged past violations. The lower court had granted defendant's motion for summary judgment and ruled that the state was required to seek voluntary compliance before initiating any proceedings for past violations of the New Mexico Water Quality Act or regulations thereunder. In rejecting this notion, the Court of Appeals holds that the statute only requires the Commission to seek voluntary compliance before initiating proceedings for injunctive relief from current or threatened violations. It would be absurd to require the state to spend time seeking compliance with the regulations when the violations had ceased before the state was aware of them. The Commission may therefore proceed against defendant for civil penalties and clean up costs for alleged water quality violations without first seeking voluntary compliance with the applicable regulations.

Counsel for Plaintiff-Appellant
Toney Anaya, Attorney General
Douglas W. Fraser
William R. Murphey
Bruce S. Garber Asst. Attorneys General
Department of Justice
State Capitol
Santa Fe NM 87503
(505) 827-2844

Counsel for Defendant-Appellee
Lewis O. Campbell
Campbell, Cherpelis & Pica
First Plaza Center, NW
Albuquerque NM 87102
(505) 243-2826

Hernandez and Lopez, JJ., concur.