The Aquifer when fracked

The Aquifer when fracked

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Sandoval county residents call for comprehensive zoning ordinance

PRess Release For Immediate Release  May 23, 2017
Sandoval County Residents Call for Comprehensive Oil and Gas Ordinance

Greater Chaco Fracking Development Further Threatens Residents

Rio Rancho, NM: Community members, organized as Common Ground Rising, included We Are One River, Power Through Peace, 350.0rg, and the Sierra Club who rallied at Sandoval County Planning and Zoning Commission meeting today, to demand a comprehensive oil and gas ordinance to protect community health, clean air, and water, from threats of fracking development.

“As time passes, this was once native land, but now that land has become all of ours. Now, in the moment of resistance and preservation we continue to fight for what is yours and mine, our resources-Water.” Peaches Blackbird, Power Through Peace.

“With no protections in place, 2500 people in the past 18 months have called on the 5 Sandoval County Commissioners to allow for public input in the development of a county ordinance to manage oil and gas development and we have been ignored.”

“We are looking at 5,500 gas wells in Rio Rancho Estates alone and now they intend to create another Permian basin with 1,000’s more wells in Placitas, Algodonnes, Pena Blanca, La Madera, and Budaghers. It is estimated with the mineral leases that 15,000 + O&G Wells extending from the West Mesa into the East Mountains could be drilled,” stated Elaine CImino Co-director of Common Ground Rising.

Under Governor Martinez, oil and gas companies have racked up more than 3,600 violations for spills and pollution.  99.5% have not been prosecuted or resulted in fines. Her administration was also caught by the Albuquerque Journal issuing drilling permits without safety inspections.  Department heads created a fake inspector to issue those permits and avoided detection for months.

Governor Martinez has taken more than $1,000,000 from oil, gas and energy companies into her campaigns. Last December, Governor Martinez appointed Ken McQueen as cabinet secretary of the New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department. McQueen most recently served as the vice president of WPX Energy. McQueen recently visited Sandoval County and thereafter the Commission signaled that it will not pass an ordinance to protect residents from fracking, but instead would entertain 10-day turn-around permits for fracking.

600 Oil &Gas wells are operating without ordiance in Sandoval County with serious impacts to the environment and health.

Over 400 new fracking wells have already been approved in the Greater Chaco area in the northwestern part of Sandoval County. Navajo Chapters have been vocal opponents of this development and the Navajo Nation and All Pueblo Council of Governors formally requested a moratorium on fracking until the Bureau of Land Management completes its current planning process for development.

Seeking assurance of public health, air and water safety, Rio Rancho residents are asking Sandoval County Commissioners to develop a comprehensive oil and gas ordinance as fracking development threatens to encroach further south into the county.

“Most of our state laws regulating the oil and gas industry date back to 1935, and do not address new technologies like the combination of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling,” said Mark LeClaire, of We Are One River. “We’re asking County Commissioners to step out of the past and protect our public health, air, and water from irresponsible oil and gas developers.”

County ordinances are drafted by the Planning and Zoning Board whose members are appointed by commissioners. The Board recently released a 32-page draft oil and gas ordinance to  address community concerns for air and water protection that has been the point of citizen contention.

“Other New Mexico counties have passed strong ordinances to protect local residents from intense oil and gas development,” said Benton Howell Co-Director of Common Ground Rising.  “Santa Fe's oil and gas ordinance is over 175 pages long and the one for San Miguel is over 199 pages. How can community protections be assured in a few inadequate paragraphs drafted by industry representatives?”

The draft oil and gas ordinance is a handout to industry, proposing a division of Sandoval County into two “energy zones” – in the northwest and southeast, fragmenting Navajo residents in Greater Chaco from urban residents closer to Albuquerque.

"It’s terribly frightening to know that the profit interests of oil and gas corporations are so often, so successfully, and so deliberately substituted for with the interests of a healthy economy for local people. If the business reps on the Sandoval County Commission abdicate their duty to protect the people of Sandoval County and instead chase short-term extreme extraction the people will suffer, our air and water will be trashed, and our democratic institutions denuded," said Mariel Nanasi, Executive Director, New Energy Economy.

“We rely on the appointees to the Planning and Zoning Commission to look out for the residents of New Mexico, we hope our commissioners will listen to their constituents,” said Placitas resident Mike Neas. “Our health and the health of our land and water is too valuable to be given away so frivolously to fracking.”


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