In the high desert of the Southwest, water is a precious resource that is sacred to Indigenous peoples. Water is also the lifeblood of the fracking industry. To drill for oil and gas reserves, millions of gallons are needed. Water has to be stolen from Indigenous peoples, and water that is contaminated by fracking fluids also pollutes vital freshwater sources such as aquifers and rivers. Industry experts call this “produced water,” which is a nice way to say dirty frack water.
This November 15 and 16 at Hotel Santa Fe Hacienda and Spa, officials from the state, the EPA (the Environmental Protection Agency), and the Department of Interior will gather with representatives from the oil and gas industry, produced water companies, and private equity, legal, and infrastructure experts to “clarify the existing regulatory and permitting frameworks related to the way produced water from oil and gas extraction can be reused, recycled, and renewed for other purposes (NM Produced Water Conference events website).” Put another way, they will rewrite regulations in order to guzzle up the region’s scarce and sacred fresh water resources and will “re-introduce” produced water into the hydrologic cycle. This means that water used for hydraulic fracturing (fracking) that is contaminated with brine, toxic medals, and radioactivity will be dumped into fragile watersheds.