Mora Co. to hold hearing on drilling

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By David Giuliani

For more than a year, a Mora County group has wanted their voices heard on the issue of possible oil and gas drilling.

Next week, it’ll get its chance.

The Mora County government is holding a public hearing from 5:30-8:30 p.m. Monday at the Mora Elementary gym.

“The aim of this meeting is to give people a chance to speak about their opinions on oil and gas,” County Manager John Garcia said.

He said the county has invited members of the County Commission and the Planning and Zoning Committee to attend.

Kathleen Dudley, chairwoman of Drilling Mora County, urged the County Commission to be open with the public.

“What we’re finding is that the County Commission is trying to keep this issue as low-profile as possible while the industry is making inroads into the county,” she said. “I would like to have a fair opportunity for a discussion on this.”

Drilling Mora County was formed after Albuquerque-based KHL Inc. started looking more than a year ago at leasing mineral rights near Ocaté, northeast of Mora, a first step to oil and gas drilling.

KHL maintains that  drilling would benefit the area economically and that it would be “minimally intrusive.”

The county reports that is hasn’t received any applications for oil and gas drilling.

At the hearing, Dudley said she hopes that people with experience in areas of energy development will speak. She said there are people all over the state who know about the degradation caused by such activity.

Dudley said she hoped that the County Commission would “honor the mandate that will come out of this.”

Commissioner Laudente Quintana, who represents Ocaté, has said the commission wouldn’t make any decisions on oil and gas drilling until a public hearing is held.

The county has contracted with a Santa Fe company to propose changes to the county’s regulations for development, including oil and gas drilling.