May 21, 2021 – In March, the pueblos of Jemez and Laguna filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers over a 2020 rule that weakens or eliminates protections for ephemeral or intermittent waterways. The pueblos are represented by the University of New Mexico Clinical Law Program, and according to the complaint, the Trump-era rule “ignores the U.S. Government’s trust responsibilities to Indian tribes and violates the Administrative Procedure Act and intent of the Clean Water Act.” It would also make it harder for pueblos to regulate upstream polluters. In this segment, we hear from Clifford Villa, at the University of New Mexico’s Environmental Law Clinic, and Chris Toya, Tribal Historic Preservation Officer with the Pueblo of Jemez.
In 2019, New Mexico in Focus aired an episode of Our Land about the Clean Waters of the U.S. rule and the importance of intermittent and ephemeral waterways to New Mexico. You can watch that here: https://www.newmexicopbs.org/productions/newmexicoinfocus/our-land-clean-water-rules/
Laura Paskus, NMiF environment reporter
Clifford Villa, UNM School of Law
Chris Toya, Pueblo of Jemez