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Elected Officials, Tribes, Activists Protest ‘Double Drilling’ During Oil Conservation Commission Hearing

on November 27, 2018 - 2:37pm
The Nov. 19 hearing before the State of New Mexico’s Oil Conservation Commission. Courtesy photo

The Nov. 19 hearing before the State of New Mexico’s Oil Conservation Commission. Courtesy photo

SIERRA CLUB News:
 
The Nov. 19 hearing before the State of New Mexico’s Oil Conservation Commission (NMOCC) drew more than 70 people to hear a decision on Hilcorp Energy’s (Case No. 16403) application request to double the number of wells in the Blanco-Mesaverde Gas Pool in San Juan and Rio Arriba counties in northwest New Mexico.
 
Hilcorp Energy—an infamously bad actor—was granted permission to avoid the necessary oversight and environmental review by the commission. Despite widespread protest and hundreds of public comments sent opposing the decision, the application was approved. The application allows up to 8,000 new wells and recompletions without any additional oversight or analysis of the impacts of double-drilling on the environment or on public health. With this blanket approval of the new rule, the public will no longer have an opportunity to participate in critical decisions about well density for Blanco-Mesaverde wells across 1.3 million acres in San Juan and Rio Arriba counties.
 
No analysis has been done on the impacts of doubling well density. U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich and U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan sent a letter to New Mexico Energy, Minerals, and Natural Resources Department (EMNRD) Secretary Ken McQueen reasserting the lack of response from federal agencies in providing appropriate review of a proposal to increase oil and gas well density in a region already beleaguered with more than 40,000 wells and facing mounting opposition to increased fracking activities that threaten the ancient and living culture of the Greater Chaco Landscape.
 
State Land Commissioner-Elect Stephanie Garcia Richard, New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas and U.S. Rep. and Governer-Elect Michelle Lujan Grisham also sent letters citing concerns over the proposal to shortcut environmental review and impacts to public health and safety.
 
Additionally, several New Mexico senators, county officials in northern New Mexico, and Navajo Nation Council Delegate-Elect Daniel Tso, sent letters to NMOCC urging the Commission to delay the hearing until all the necessary information about the impacts of Hilcorp’s proposal is available to the public. A sign on letter supported by over 150 signatories was also sent raising concerns over public transparency issues and urging for the hearing to be delayed until the incoming administration can assess the proposal.
 
There is still a possibility of an appeal in the new year under a more balanced administration.
 
The Nov. 19 hearing before the State of New Mexico’s Oil Conservation Commission. Courtesy photo

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