State’s Rights… or never let a disaster go to waste?
This is unprecedented (at least in the modern era)…
Sonora’s Governor, Guillermo Padres Elias, expelled three federal official from his state, and has demanded that the President fire them. Claiming that the local heads Conagua (the Federal Water Commission), Profepa (the Environmental Protection Agency) and SEMARNAT (the Department of Environment and Natural Resources) had failed to prevent the disaster in which Grupo Mexico released 40 million liters of sulfuric acid into the Sonora River Basin.
Federal officials laid the blame on Grupo Mexico two weeks ago, saying the mining company had hidden problems from the regulators, and were threatening not just fines, but probable jail terms for those involved, and even spoke openly of a federal takeover. The Governor is claiming the federal government should have foreseen the problem.
Padres claimed the trio not only failed to anticipate problems at the Buenavista del Cobre mine before the 6 August disaster, but claims that federal officials are dragging their feet in investigating the matter for political reasons. Padres is a PAN politician, the federal administration, of course, is PRI. While true that water resources are a federal matter (and rivers and other bodies of water are federal, not state, territory), Padres has been leading efforts to control water within his own state, notably in siding with Hermosillo over the Yaquí Nation in diverting water from the Yaquís to industrial users and — as reported by Carmen Aristegui and Reforma — had a dam built across the Río El Manzanal on his own property to capture four million cubic meters of water.
Sin Embargo, 9 September 2014, “Los delegados federales ‘no son bienvenidos en Sonora’, dice el Gobernador; expulsa a tres, y pide a EPN sus cabezas”
Aristegui Noticias, 9 September 2014, “Gobernador de Sonora construyó presa en su rancho”
Mexico News Daily, 27 August 2014, “Officials blame mine for ‘worst environmental disaster’ in Mexican mining”