Sunday, June 12, 2011

Las Vegas, NM Drilling Moratorium Extended

" Adopted an ordinance imposing an additional one year moratorium on the approval of conditional use permits or other permits for oil, gas and geothermal drilling, exploration and extraction in San Miguel County."

Certainly the most important piece of news in the OPTIC'S newspaper on the 14th and perhaps this year, but mentioned as a mere bullet point in an article on "Fire Restrictions."

Natural gas development uses upwards of 2-4 million gallons of clean, drinking water plus 3,000 gallons of toxic fluids per million gallons of water to hydraulic fracture a natural gas well.  Each well can be fractured upwards of 19 times.  The amount of clean water used to capture this fossil fuel from your property certainly does not help the "dire water needs" for the city of Las Vegas residents, nor the need for water to fight fires during serious drought conditions throughout the county/state.

The current standards and techniques used to "restore" contaminated water from the toxic chemical pollution from natural gas development falls egregiously short of the quality of water in our aquifers today in San Miguel and Mora Counties.  While the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) holds standards for the presence of toxic chemicals in your water, they represent "allowable" levels more in line with corporate needs than our human and animal health concerns.  For example, the EPA does not have restrictions on the level of perchlorate in our drinking water in NM and according to Dr. Theo Colborn,  any amount can trash our thyroid.  New Mexico has some of the highest thyroid health problems in the United States. Perchlorate is a component in military aircraft fuel.

Additionally, benzene, a component in hydraulic fracturing fluids, is a carcinogen at any level.  The EPA has permissible levels for this and many other toxic chemicals that are "allowed" in our drinking water:

"EPA has set an enforceable regulation for benzene, called a maximum contaminant level (MCL), at 0.005 mg/L or 5 ppb. MCLs are set as close to the health goals as possible, considering cost, benefits and the ability of public water systems to detect and remove contaminants using suitable treatment technologies." (

The oil industry is exempt from the "Safe Drinking Water Act" which in essence, puts them "above the law" regarding contaminating our drinking water.  The EPA does not have any rules in place to keep benzene out of our drinking water supply. And "business" creates "background levels" which ultimately are incorporated by our government as "allowable background levels" that continue to increase the health risks, illness and deaths of all species.