Lifestyle & Belief

New Mexico blocks permit for horse slaughterhouse due to open in August


A tray of horse meat is on sale at a shop in Bremen, northern Germany on February 14, 2013. scandal over horsemeat-tainted food spiraled after Britain announced the discovery of a potentially harmful drug in horsemeat sent to France and Germany.( INGO WAGNER/AFP/Getty Images)

The New Mexico Environment Department has declined to renew a wastewater permit for the Valley Meat Co., which is due to open a horse slaughterhouse in Roswell on Aug. 5. The facility will be the first new horse slaughterhouse in the United States in six years.

The lack of a permit does not necessarily prevent the plant from opening on time, but it cuts into the plant’s profits, since it means the slaughterhouse will have to haul its waste.

The New Mexico Environment Department said that it won't renew the wastewater permit without a public hearing because it has received extensive public comments on the plant.

The move is the latest tactic to derail the slaughterhouse opening, following the expiration of a congressional ban on horse slaughterhouses in 2011.

More from GlobalPost: Horse slaughterhouses to reopen in US

The USDA has granted slaughterhouse licenses to Valley Meat and Responsible Transportation in Sigourney, Iowa, because the law says it must, agency officials said.

A federal lawsuit filed by the Humane Society of the United States is seeking to stop Valley Meat from opening its slaughterhouse.

On Monday, actor Robert Redford and former Gov. Bill Richardson, who’ve launched a new animal protection foundation, and New Mexico Attorney General Gary King announced they would join the lawsuit.

In a statement, Richardson said he would do "whatever it takes to stop the return of horse slaughterhouses in this country and, in particular, my own state," the Associated Press reported. He added: "Congress was right to ban the inhumane practice years ago, and it is unfathomable that the federal government is now poised to let it resume.”