Just as a New Mexico slaughterhouse prepares to kill 20 horses, the state has filed a lawsuit that aims to prevent the killings.

Roswell-based Valley Meat Company plans to begin slaughtering horses in the new year thanks to changes in federal rules. It eventually aims to be capable of slaughtering 120 horses a day, with the meat sold as animal feed and to human consumers in Europe and Asia.

The debut slaughter had initially been scheduled for early August but was delayed after the company was targeted by lawsuits and suspected arsonists. A federal appeals court in Colorado last week ruled against environmentalists who had sued to prevent the slaughter of horses in America.

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Now New Mexico’s Democratic attorney general, an aspiring gubernatorial candidate, is joining in the pile-on. He described such a slaughter as “completely at odds with our traditions and our values as New Mexicans.” Here’s more about the lawsuit from KOB Eyewitness News 4:

At a press conference on Thursday, Attorney General Gary King said he will sue Valley Meat Company for violating state and federal environmental and safety laws.

According to the suit, Valley Meat repeatedly violated state groundwater monitoring requirements when it operated as a cattle slaughterhouse between 1986 and 2005. The suit also claims Valley Meat failed to renew its permit for discharging wastewater from 2010 until 2012. Over this period of time, the suit alleges that Valley Meat illegally dumped the remains of hundreds of slaughtered animals on the grounds of the plant, forming “massive piles of rotting flesh and bones.”

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In a statement to KOB, Valley Meat’s attorney said it was preposterous to sue a company for “anticipated violations” and to rely on “bad science to make defamatory conclusions about a product.”

Valley Meat has felt itself the victim of unfair attention from environmentalists, but it hasn’t been doing a good job of keeping a low profile. Adding fuel to the flames of controversy, a slaughterhouse worker earlier this year posted video of himself shooting a colt in the head. “All you animal activists, fuck you,” he said, before squeezing the trigger.

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