Mora County, NM May Reverse Fracking Ban

Changes in the membership of New Mexico’s Mora County Commission may mean that a law banning fracking in Mora County could soon be reversed. Elections for the Mora County Commission took place on June 3 and Commissioner John Olivas, who led the effort to ban fracking in Mora County, was replaced by George Trujillo, who has been skeptical of the bill’s efficacy.

It’s the financial repercussions of the bill that make it unfeasible says Trujillo, who won the Democratic primary and faces no Republican challenger for District 2:

 “‘Taxpayers having to pay for the lawsuits, that’s what bothered me,’ Trujillo told New Mexico Watchdog on Wednesday, the day after the primary. ‘I feel we need to repeal that ordinance and go other routes.’” Read more from New Mexico Watchdog.

The Commission’s vote must be unanimous in order to overturn the ordinance. Paula Garcia, who received 76% of the vote in the Democratic Primary and is the favorite to win in the general election, was the only vote against the ban when it was originally passed. Mora County’s third commissioner Alfonso Griego, as the only currently-serving commissioner who voted to institute the ban.

Separate lawsuits challenging the ordinance have been filed by the Independent Petroleum Association of New Mexico and Shell Western E&P Inc. According to The Albuquerque Journal, in spite of these lawsuits, Garcia and Trujillo are not eager to open up Mora County to fracking:

“’If it gets overturned, I imagine we’ll go back and revisit our options,’ [Garcia] said, adding that, prior to passing the ordinance last year, the commission studied other ordinances that restrict oil and gas drilling, including ones from Santa Fe and Rio Arriba counties. ‘We have lots of models to draw upon and samples to look at. It’s important that we have a Plan B.’”

“’That would be my choice – put a moratorium on drilling for six months or a year and get the community involved,’ Trujillo acknowledged. ‘If a judge doesn’t decide (the lawsuits) within the next seven months, I’m willing to repeal it and go a different way.’”