SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A hearing officer is recommending that the New Mexico Environment Department deny a wastewater permit for a Roswell company that wants to slaughter horses.
The hearing officer cited what she called the company's record of "willful disregard" of the state's environmental laws.
Valley Meat Co. and the groups trying to block its opening now have 15 days to respond to the report before the environment secretary decides whether to renew the company's permit. The permit doesn't impact whether Valley can slaughter horses, but rather how it disposes of waste.
Valley Meat is a former cattle slaughterhouse that has been fighting for two years to convert its operations to horses. The last domestic horse slaughterhouses closed in 2007.
Its efforts have sparked an emotional, national debate over whether horses are pets or livestock, and has prompted lawsuits by national animal protection groups and the state attorney general.