Monday, September 21, 2009

Attorney General Targets Environmental Crimes


One of the most important jobs I have as Attorney General is to help protect, preserve and enhance New Mexico’s environment, water and natural resources. This is accomplished through litigation, cooperative efforts with stakeholders and enforcement of environmental laws. Many of these laws impose criminal penalties on conduct that presents a serious harm or risk of harm to human health and the environment.

To help protect New Mexico families, I am pleased to report that we are beefing up the public education and outreach efforts of the Environmental Crimes Unit (ECU) within our Water, Environment & Utilities Division. This unit is dedicated to enforcing environmental laws and ensuring that those who violate them are held accountable.

We are providing several ways for the public to help report violations to the ECU. These tips are important and could prove valuable to the ECU as it investigates and helps prosecute violations of New Mexico's environmental protection statutes. Additionally, a new publication is in the works that provides information about environmental crimes and how to report them. This new tri-fold brochure will be available to the public and other governmental agencies. The following is some of the information that will be contained in the publication.

New Mexico is a large state and just learning about potential environmental law violations can be a difficult task. That is where you come in...with the help of the general public, the ECU can cover a lot of ground throughout the state.

What Are Environmental Crimes?

Air Pollution: burning of commercial or industrial waste; release of hazardous substances into the air; illegal removal of asbestos from buildings.

Hazardous Waste: improper storage, disposal, or transfer of hazardous waste. Hazardous waste can generally be described as any material that threatens public safety and the environment. It includes degreasers, acids, metals, paint waste, solvents, cyanides and pesticides.

Water Pollution: discharge of waste into streams, rivers, lakes, including farm drainage and waste generated by construction sites and factories.
Solid Waste: improper dumping of large quantities of garbage or refuse

What to Look For:

  • Containers or drums that appear to be abandoned (for example you find them in a forest, along a roadside or otherwise in a place where it appears they do not belong), especially if they are corroded or leaking.
  • Dead fish in streams or waterways, particularly if the water appears to contain foreign substances (such as detergent, bleach, chemicals or has a strange color).
  • Dead animals alongside a river bank or in a field.
  • Discolored and/or stressed, dying plant life.
  • Visible sheens on the ground or in the water.
  • Foul smelling or oddly colored discharges onto the ground or into a stream or waterway.
  • Foul smelling or strange looking emissions into the air.
  • Pipes or valves that would allow for discharge from a plant that appear hidden.
  • A truck dumping materials into a manhole or sewer drain.
  • A person burying drums on business or residential property.

There is more information on our Web site about examples of environmental crimes, what steps you should take to report suspected violations and some cautionary measures to be taken by anyone who encounters potential environmental waste contamination.

With the help of citizens who report environmental crimes to our ECU and the new publication, the Attorney General's Office can better protect New Mexico and work to keep it forever, The Land of Enchantment. Thank you.

Gary K. King
New Mexico Attorney General


The Environmental Crimes Unit has established ways for you to report suspected environmental crimes:

Environmental Crimes Telephone Tipline: (505) 827-6629

Environmental Crimes E-mail:

Fill out an on-line form.

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