Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Santa Fe Opera Reconsiders Decision on Drilling in Vegas Basin--Las Vegas OPTIC

BREAKING NEWS: Santa Fe Opera reconsiders decision on drilling in Vegas Basin
October 6th 2009
By Lee Einer

The Santa Fe Opera is revisiting its decision to lease nearly 27,000 acres shared mineral rights to drill in the Las Vegas Basin.

The move comes after an outcry by environmentalists, activists and others in the area. They say that oil and gas activity could hurt the environment.

Charles MacKay, director of the Santa Fe Opera, said that he had signed the lease without first examining all of the implications.

"While we believed we were acting in accordance with the donor's wishes that her gift would generate long-term support for our apprentice program, we did not explore what other options might be available to us. and now we are seeking counsel and wide consultation to better understand the situation and where we might go from here," MacKay said.

MacKay said that when he signed the lease, he was unaware that the Wind River Ranch, a 5,000-acre conservation ranch, was affected and was also unfamiliar with the oil and gas industry's practices.

MacKay said a conservation easement is a possibility.

"As to whether the lease will be broken or revisited, that is something that I'm not qualified to determine. That is why we need counsel and consultation to better examine the options available to us," MacKay said. "I will be working closely with the board as we consider our options in the coming weeks. We'll do everything possible to move in the direction of positive resolution."

MacKay said the board is revisiting its mission and vision statements in light of the issues raised by the lease.

"It's an excellent opportunity for us to clarify and pinpoint our position on this so we don't find ourselves in a similar position in the future, ever, ever, again."

For more on this story, see Friday's Optic.

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