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Editorial: County takes long view

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By The Staff

Often, the government is criticized for not planning ahead, so we should give officials credit when they take the long view.

San Miguel County doesn’t have any requests for oil and gas drilling permits pending. Nonetheless, county commissioners have expressed an interest in updating what little is on the books regarding oil and gas regulation.

County Attorney Jesus Lopez reports that the county only has a half page pertaining to oil and gas of an ordinance that is an inch thick. That may not be enough. But if the county doesn’t have any requests pending, why worry about it?

Over the last couple of years, two neighboring counties, Santa Fe and Mora, have both encountered interest in oil and gas drilling. They have instituted moratoriums on such activity until they make sure their ordinances are up to par.

If gasoline prices rise — as they almost certainly will after the economic downturn ends — we will see renewed interested in oil and gas drilling. And that may well affect San Miguel County.

No county or state can ban drilling; that would be deemed an illegal taking of property. But we can make sure we have regulations that curtail the adverse effects of such activity.

Years ago, the county created an ordinance for wind farms, long before it got its first request. This, too, was smart on the county’s part.

It’s best to be prepared rather than scrambling at the last minute.