Regarding your lead story in the Feb. 14 edition of the Las Vegas Optic, “Drilling advocates take aim”:
I would agree with the perspective that linking ease of access for drilling to winning capital outlay grants from the State is an attempt by the oil and gas industry to blackmail the state and the local communities of New Mexico who would dare to attempt to regulate oil and gas extraction in an effort to protect their land, water, and way of life.
I would also point out that this “oily” letter (from lawmakers) is consistent with the belligerent efforts of industry to force their rights through the courts. San Miguel County should take note. Ordinances crafted at the local level always fail in their efforts to curtail the industry.
The legal playing field at both the state and federal level is carefully structured to favor industry in all regulatory efforts. The courts have made it clear, no local community has the right to regulate industrial development. In contrast, an ordinance based on the civil rights of a community to a healthy and sustainable natural environment and redress of harm incurred by industrial degradation has been proven to provide an effective deterrent to the outright exploitation of our environment which the oil and gas industry fights vigorously to enjoy.
The San Miguel County Commission needs to jettison its plan for a locally crafted regulatory ordinance now, and instead focus on a Community Rights ordinance based on the civil rights of its citizens.
In the meantime, the commission needs to continue its highly effective approach of wait and study and learn, for which the moratorium on oil and gas extraction has so far provided the needed time. There is much more to learn. Not least of which is the results of the ongoing EPA study of the industry and its practice of fracking. This study will not be completed until sometime in 2014. San Miguel County at the very least deserves the chance to consider this study, the only non-industry funded study to date.
Continue with the moratorium. It works.