Monday, June 15, 2009

"Mora group wants hearing"--OPTIC by David Gulliani

A group concerned about possible oil and gas drilling in Mora County
contends the public has yet to get its say with elected
A year ago, the Mora County Commission had planned to hold a public
hearing on the issue, but it canceled the meeting at the last minute.
The nonprofit group, Drilling Mora County, carried on with the event,
with more than 200 attending to listen to arguments about the
drawbacks of energy development.
The commission has yet to hold the public hearing, said Kathleen
Dudley, chairwoman of Drilling Mora County. “We have continued to
ask the commissioners to hold a public hearing, where people can tell
them their views.”
Drilling Mora County was formed after Albuquerque-based KHL Inc.
started looking at leasing mineral rights near Ocaté, northeast of
Mora, a first step to oil and gas drilling.
Dudley said she had been told by the county that it doesn’t have
time for a public hearing, but she said it had time to go to a
KHL-organized trip to Santa Rosa to look at a gas well.
Commissioner Laudente Quintana, who represents Ocaté, said the
commission will hold a public forum before it makes any decision on
oil and gas drilling. So far, no one has filed any applications for
permits for drilling, he said.
The company has contracted with a Santa Fe company to propose
changes to the county’s regulations for development, Quintana said.
“All three commissioners are looking at different angles (of this
issue) about what’s good and what isn’t. We aren’t going to
jeopardize anything for the people,” he said.
Quintana said he’s particularly concerned about the effects of oil
and gas drilling on water supplies.
That’s also an issue of concern for Mora County Drilling. The
group contends that hundreds of water wells across the state have been
contaminated as the result of oil and gas drilling and that the
extraction of natural gas takes upward of 800,000 gallons of a
ranch’s water to begin the drilling process.
The group has started to run weekly advertisements in the Optic,
asking residents to call their commissioners about their views on
energy development. One of its main arguments is that oil and gas
drilling will displace the county’s agricultural way of life.
“What I’d like to see is that any industry that is known to
pollute be prohibited in Mora County, just as the county’s
development guidance standards state right now. It concerns us if an
industry pollutes water or causes health problems,” she said.
“We’re not anti-drilling; we’re anti-pollution and
Whatever the outcome of a public hearing, Dudley said it’s
important to have one.
“Maybe more people want industry to come than don’t. We would
like the commission to hear the voice of the people,” she said.
KHL President Knute H. Lee Jr. didn’t return a message for
comment. He has said before that drilling would benefit the area
economically and that it would be “minimally intrusive.”
Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.