Friday, March 5, 2010

Drilling Mora County’s educational meeting February 11th, 2010, with Chris Velasquez and Gilbert Armenta, San Juan County ranchers, filled Tapetes with over 85 people listening solemnly to the words of what life is about ranching with natural gas development day-to-day.

An agricultural county prior to oil and gas development, San Juan County now has the highest rate of cancer in New Mexico. Unemployment eclipses the national rate at 12%. Not counting out-of-state and oil and gas field employees, the rate of employment for the county is a staggering 35%. The boom and bust economy associated with energy-dependent counties has flung the citizens of San Juan County into a rock wall. Today fewer than 8% of the land is owned by Hispanic families. Prior to oil and gas, 43% of the land represented Hispanic land stewardship and ownership. A collapse of of a contributing culture has taken place in our northern county.

What will it take to stop the day-to-day devastation industry reeks on the water, on the animal’s and human’s health and quality of life that plagues the people on the land in San Juan County? According to Mr. Velasquez and Mr. Armenta, keeping the oil industry out is the most important effort Mora County citizens could achieve. While they were unable to to this in their own county, they have graciously taken the time to speak to the citizens of Mora County in hopes that their stories will encourage people to protect their counties by saying "no" to the oil industry.