Friday, July 24, 2009

Commissioner loyalties

At the recent meeting in Mora concerning potential oil and gas development in Mora County, there was no question: The attending citizens spoke overwhelmingly against bringing this “dirty” industry into our pristine agricultural county. Of the 48 speakers, all but six strongly asked our commissioners to protect our water, our air, and our way of life against the industrialization that always accompanies oil and gas development. Many asked the commission to consider developing green industries rather than the polluting, outdated petroleum industry.

Of the six other speakers, three were paid industry representatives, one was a Mora County citizen who had leased his mineral rights, and two spoke more against regulation than in favor of oil and gas development. So the mandate was clear: Mora citizens want a clean, green county. Unfortunately, the Optic story did not adequately convey this message.

Most disturbing, however, were three things: First, our commissioners refused to conduct this meeting as an official meeting, and therefore refused to participate. One commissioner even text-messaged during the public comment, indicating his obvious disinterest in citizen input. Secondly, the only time the commissioners appeared to pay close attention was when industry representatives spoke; then, and only then, their attention was riveted upon the speakers. Third, county officials chatted and joked with industry representatives during and after the hearing.

Have our county officials already made their decisions, without public input? It is easy to suspect so, as they have spent considerable time with industry representatives and appear quite friendly with them, at official commission meetings as well as at this public hearing. And, until Drilling Mora County began running advertisements in the Optic, the commission had consistently refused to hold a public hearing. Now, finally, they did hold the hearing, but they appeared disinterested.

Where are their loyalties?

Don Hamilton

Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.

Drilling and smoking in Mora County

The public session to discuss gas drilling in Mora County turned out to be a walk down memory lane. I could hear echoes of statements made decades ago by representatives of the tobacco industry.

“There is no scientific evidence that anyone has been harmed by smoking. Our product is perfectly safe; there are no added toxic chemicals. We are responsible members of the community, and our product makes a vital economic contribution to our society. Everyone should have the right to decide whether he or she will smoke, since an individual’s smoking doesn’t affect others. We don’t want eastern liberals pushing unnecessary regulations.”

Change “smoking” to “drilling for oil and gas,” and you have heard the arguments presented at Mora by representatives of the industry.

We now know that we were lied to about tobacco. We should be extremely skeptical when the same arguments are used to promote drilling for oil and gas. The industry has virtually unlimited resources that it can use to get its way. Will the commissioners give in to the industry, or will they take measures to protect the common good in Mora County?

Robert E. Pearson

Letter-writing Campaign

Letter-Writing Campaign-Mora County on oil and gas development:
Write to the following addresses (sample letter below) and tell them to protect your water, your county’s most fragile and important resource which feeds the land and your families therefore the culture and way of life in Mora County from any industry that violates the mandate of the people via the governing laws of our Development Guidance System (DGS).

Mora County Government
PO Box 580
Mora, New Mexico 87732
• Peter Martinez, chair
• Gino Maes
• Laudente Quintana
Land Use Administrator
Rumaldo Pino,

Sample Letter:

Dear NAME,
I’m writing to ask you to strongly support and uphold the current Development Guidance System (DGS) and Comprehensive Land Use Plan which protect Mora County from “dirty” industry --oil and gas development. Our water, culture, agricultural way-of-life would be adversely impacted should these laws be weakened.
The1995 DGS states that no polluting industry is allowed in our agricultural County. In addition we want the County to adopt the Santa Fe County Oil and Gas Ordinance (with modifications to fit Mora County’s DGS) for further protections from oil and gas development.

Please support our rights and be informed of our deep concerns and the mandate of the citizens—protect Mora County and keep it agricultural..

Sincerely Yours,
Address and name

State Representatives
•Representative Thomas Garcia
PO 56
Ocate, NM 87734
•Senator Phil Griego
PO Box 10
San Jose, NM 87565
•Governor Richardson

Sample Letter:


Dear NAME,
As a citizen of Mora County I am writing to ask for your help to support our mandate to protect our water and keep green industry developing in our agricultural county.

We need legislative money for studies to be conducted of Mora County’s hydrology and for base line testing for all the wells. I request that you put this on the top of your list for the next legislative session.

I understand the devastation oil and gas development has and the impact it will have on our culture, way-of-life and agriculture. Please work to help protect what matters to me.


Sample Letter:
Commissioner of Public Lands
Commissioner Pat Lyons
NM State Land Office
PO Box 1148
Santa Fe, NM 87504-1148

Dear Mr. Lyons,

I am asking that you will defer the leasing of all state lands in Mora County due to the sensitive area for wildlife and our water for our communities. Our County’s laws, a mandate of our people, upheld in our Development Guidance System (DGS), stipulate that as an agricultural County, no polluting industry is allowed to degrade our way of life. Once the “bread-basket” for the State of New Mexico, we are reclaiming that right and claiming renewable resources to off-set the degradation of oil and gas extraction. Look to Mora County for GREEN—small green industrial development that is in keeping with our agricultural County--scale solar and certified organic agriculture for our future generations.

Thank you for holding safely the leases on our Mora County earth.

Sincerely Yours,
Address and name

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Mora County Citizen Mandate--Mora County Commission meeting on development of oil and gas in Mora County 7-6-09


Even industry would have to concede that the Mora County Commission "Special Meeting" results on the development of oil and gas in Mora County was a mandate of the Citizens of Mora County. A crowd of nearly 300 packed and lined the walls of the gymnasium for 3 hours of testimony.

Of those who testified, only 5 out of the 48 people clearly supported oil and gas development in Mora County. Three were industry and two were Mora County land owners. New Mexico Oil and Gas Association, Bob Gallagher, Industry attorney, Corine Foster and Shell Oil representative, Sally (?) spoke on behalf of the oil and gas industry. Mark Fesmire represented the New Mexico Oil Conservation Division. Tweeti Blancett and Chris Velasquez (Land out of Time), "cousins" to the North of Mora County, testified about the damaging extraction processes with which industry daily scars their daily ranching lives and cautioned the people that there is minimal government protection for them once industry drills on their land. The line up of speakers from Drilling Santa Fe, Johnny Micou, Linda Spier, David Bacon and Bruce Fredrick, NMELC, along with many others, read like a famous movie line up.

And even more exciting and promising was the testimony of the citizens of Mora County, who individually and passionately expressed their concern that industry would TAKE from them, the very way-of-life that is their great wealth...measured in the quality of their clean drinking water, land, air, health and peace of mind. "How do we measure wealth?" has been redefined and spoken with solidarity--it is MORA COUNTY! And the people spoke their mandate telling industry that they did not believe their rhetoric that oil and gas development can be "Good Neighbors."--as clearly as the incompatibility of mixing oil and water. The people told industry they were well aware of the toxic water contamination across New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Texas and elsewhere in the world. They spoke that once industry drilled their first well in Mora County, there would be no way of turning back. There appeared to be a powerful resistance to allowing industry a foothold in Mora County.

Now, given all this, what will the commissioners do after hearing the mandate of the citizens of Mora County? The public is now inquiring as to the process and they are actively urging the commission to unfold their vision and goals for the future of Mora County regarding oil and gas development.

"Mora County drilling faces fight" -Santa Fe New Mexican

"A group of concerned Mora County residents continued their fight to prevent oil and gas drilling in the rural county at a meeting Monday night in the village of Mora.

The county commissioners held a special meeting at the local high-school gym to discuss the issue, and an estimated 400 people lined up to hear three hours of testimony, according to the group Drilling Mora County.

The group claims fewer than half a dozen speakers out of 48 supported drilling at the meeting. Johnny Micou of Drilling Santa Fe, which fought drilling in the Galisteo Basin, was among the drilling opponents who spoke at the meeting.

Bob Gallagher of the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association spoke on behalf of the industry. A couple of ranchers from elsewhere in New Mexico talked about how oil and gas operations had impacted their operations."

"Mora County gets views on drilling"--David Gulliani, Las Vegas OPTIC

Las Vegas Optic

By David Giuliani

"MORA — Ojo Feliz resident Emilio Valdez acknowledged during a public hearing that he leased his land’s mineral rights to oil and gas companies. He said Mora County needs economic development.

“There are people who are opposed to any industry. They look at the negative side of things,” he said, adding that he wanted to make sure future generations of his family had a source of income.

And he said if others had land to lease to energy firms, they would do so as well.

Not so, others said.

Valdez was one of more than 40 speakers during a three-hour public hearing Monday night at Mora Elementary School. More than 200 people attended.

The hearing was organized by the Mora County government, whose officials are considering changes to regulations to deal with possible oil and gas development.

More than a year ago, Albuquerque-based KHL Inc. started looking at leasing mineral rights near Ocate, northeast of Mora, a first step to drilling. A group calling itself Drilling Mora County, which is pushing for stricter regulations, has been seeking a public hearing for more than a year.

The county has yet to receive an application for drilling.

By the applause at Monday’s hearing, it appeared as if more people in attendance sided with anti-drilling speakers. But industry representatives and their supporters got cheers as well." More>>>>

Monday, July 6, 2009

"Mora Co. to hold hearing on drilling" by David Gulliani OPTIC

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.

See complete article.....

"Mora Co. to hold hearing on drilling" by David Gulliani--Las Vegas Optic

Question: Do we want Mora to remain “agricultural” with our scarce precious water protected or “industrial” with water gone or polluted?

We are now on the brink of a disastrous takeover by Corporate America reminiscent of the land grant takeovers of old.

Some recent examples of happenings elsewhere:

• Sixty-eight wells in the township of Hickory, Penn., are being drilled with the same process (“hydrofracking”) that would be used here. They are taking millions of gallons of water in this process that forces a chemical-laden solution deep into the rock to break and release gas. Resident Ron Gulla blames drilling for the death of all vegetation around his ponds and the fish all dead. “They lied to us,” he is quoted as saying. “Our pristine quiet township is now poisoned. And we have noisy drills and compressors, heavy truck traffic ruining our roads and air pollution from flaring and escaping gas.” The Delaware River watershed (servicing 15 million people) is severely threatened.

• Closer to home, according to an endocrine research lab, in Paonia, Colo., 30 percent of the 54 tested chemicals in drilling fluid are cancer forming; 74 percent can cause respiratory damage, and 54 percent endanger the cardiovascular system.

• Still closer to home, landowners with drilling sites in Stonewall, Colo., have detectors in their homes — when methane comes through their water pipes, alarms go off — “Evacuate!” Yes, water can burn!

It takes 800,000 gallons of fresh water to drill just one well. Water (now toxic) is pumped back into the hole, contaminating underground aquifers.

It’s up to us — protect it or lose it. Many states, including New Mexico are damaged by this unapologetic industry — 700 documented contaminated wells in New Mexico, with over 4,500 spillage events (800 contaminated from leaks, spills, and releases of toxic oil/gas field waste or products as of 2005.)

Our commissioners represent us, not outside mega-industry. They need to know how we, the people, feel. San Miguel will be affected. Santa Fe County Commissioners responded to large public outcry recently and put a moratorium on drilling and high standards for future environmental/health protection.

Please attend the public forum on gas drilling on this coming Monday at 5:30 p.m. at Mora Junior High Gym.

Judy Pilcher
Buena Vista

Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

"Oil, Water, do not Mix in Mora County"--OPTIC

Las Vegas Optic
26 June 2009
Letter to the Editor

LETTER: Oil, water don’t mix in Mora County

In a county such as Mora County, where agriculture is the way of life, ranching and farming, bartering and working long, hard hours on land passed down for multiple generations, there is little to compare with such a culture of activity. Not unlike attempting to mix oil and water, “dirty” industry and agriculture do not mix. One will be dominant — the one that uses the most resources will over-ride the other. That will be the oil and gas industry.

Just look to Farmington. It once most likely was a FARMING---TON area, now vastly industrialized and nary a Spanish word found on the streets, let alone bartering, or the sound of roosters crowing, or the sight of a herd of sheep, or acequias open, flooding fields of alfalfa. It is a bustling city of money, thoroughbred horse farms, long white painted fences and beautiful rolling hills. I can imagine what it once was like when I look out onto the lush fields of Mora Valley today. A boom will come to Mora County, and with it, rising real estate prices, and rising taxes necessary to pay for rising infrastructure costs.

The Hispanic families, ranching and farming for generations, will be the ones most drastically impacted. Some will be displaced due to the economic impact of the oil and gas industry. In some cases, aquifers will be contaminated with minute amounts of toxic chemicals and the land, rich with water, will be useless. Poisonous water kills. Just like Aztec, and Farmington, Mora County will become a slave to the crown of industry. And yet another culture and way of life will have fallen.

Kathleen Dudley
Mora County

Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.