Sunday, November 17, 2013

Baseline Water Well Testing for San Miguel County Completed PRE Drilling

For Immediate Release

From: Drilling Mora County

San Miguel County Completes Baseline Water Testing.

San Miguel County recently became the second county in the US to perform proactive baseline water testing in defense against oil and natural gas extraction by hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking.

Mora County was the first county to complete such testing in 2010.  These tests included sampling for 14 water wells which included private wells and mutual domestic water consumers associations in the Las Vegas Basin, Mora County.

The San Miguel County testing, which was spearheaded by Drilling Mora County, DMC,  included well sites in the Trementina and Las Vegas basins on or near properties targeted by the natural gas industry for fracking. It was  funded by a grant to DMC from the McCune Foundation.

The Committee for Clean Water, Air and Earth, CCWAE, helped locate sites in San Miguel County for the five wells tested.

Certified water sampling professional Walter Drew of Indepth Water Testing, Santa Fe, and the New Mexico State certified drinking water lab, Hall Environmental Analytical Laboratory, Albuquerque, New Mexico, ran the procedures on the water wells.

Communities and landowners across the United States have experienced groundwater contamination in the wake of fracking activities that has in many cases rendered their water unusable due to the presence of toxic chemicals such as benzene, toluene and methane. Some have sued the fracking companies. The first defense of the fracking industry has been the claim that since there had been no water testing done prior to fracking, there was no way to prove that the toxic chemicals were not already present before the fracking occurred.

Notice of the baseline water well testing procedure was sent to the San Miguel County Commissioners earlier this month.  November 13th the commission unanimously voted to extend their oil/gas moratorium another six months.

The baseline water testing performed in San Miguel County specifically identifies and quantifies chemical toxins known to be used in the drilling and fracking process. The presence of baseline data on water purity in San Miguel County will likely discourage the fracking industry from activities in San Miguel County which risk polluting local groundwater, wells and aquifers.

Diane Lindsay is a CCWAE organizer who helped organize well sites on this project. “It's a very important thing to do, “ said Lindsay,  “testing the water before the industry moves in and fracks. It should be the rule, and not the exception.”

Kathleen Dudley, DMC, co-founder, has organized both Mora and San Miguel County’s testing. “Proactive, educational grassroots actions make a difference in protecting our communities, says, Dudley.  “It is all about getting involved now, before damage occurs.”   575 666 2529

Mora County Bill of Rights Ordinance Sued by Coporate Oil Interests

"“We’ll take it as it comes,” Olivas told the Optic during a telephone interview on Wednesday. “It is unfortunate that municipalities and counties in northern New Mexico cannot say no to corporations without the threat of lawsuits. Mora County is in support of protecting its land, air and water, and the purpose of the ordinance was just that.”

Olivas has said that there have been attorneys from around the country lining up and promising to defend Mora County if it were to be sued."

 Alfonso Griego, vice chairman of the Mora County Board of Commissioners, on Thursday declined to discuss the lawsuit but defended the county’s right to pass the ordinance.

“It’s about the water. My ultimate goal is to protect the water sources of Mora County against contamination,” he said.

Griego said the state should not have the right to prohibit the county from passing a drilling ban. “The state doesn’t live in Mora County. We the people live in Mora County. It’s our right to see how want to live; that’s afforded to us by both the state and federal constitutions.”

"Kathleen Dudley, a CELDF community rights organizer, said the lawsuit differs from other legal challenges to municipal fracking bans in that it directly challenges the legal theory that asserts corporations are legal persons.

“The focus on the lawsuit won’t be on fracking but on challenging the current fact that corporations, like the plaintiffs, actually have more rights than the people of Mora County. That’s why it’s being taken into federal court,” she said. “We don’t have a fracking problem. We actually have a democracy problem.”

April 29th, 2013, Mora County Commissioners passed the first county-wide Community Bill of Rights ordinance in the country.  This CELDF Community Rights ordinance bans oil and gas and other hydrocarbons from being drilled and fracked in Mora County.

Lafeyette, CO. last week passed a similar CELDF Community Bill of Rights through the initiative process.  60% of the voters voted in favour of this ballot referendum that put the vote out to the general public, rather than leaving it to the vote and decision-making of a few elected officials.  The democratic process for Lafeyette citizens was their first opportunity to assert their rights to local decision-making, local self-determination, and ultimately assert their rights to protect their future rather being faced with mitigating the harms industry would otherwise cause in their communities by drilling and fracking.

Mora County Commission Chair, John Olivas, sponsor of the Mora County Community Bill of Rights ordinance, referes to himself as a public servant.  Commissioner Olivas ran his campaign platform in 2010 to protect Mora County by banning oil and gas drilling and fracking.  He along with newly elected Commissioner Alfonso Griego, voted 2:1 to ban oil and gas in the county with Commissioner Paula Garcia, voting against the ordinance.

The lawsuit filed yesterday against the Mora County Commission has opened the door for the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, CELDF, to legally defend the Mora County Commission's new law that asserts people's rights that protects their health, welfare and safety against corporate privileged interests over those of the people living within Mora County.

New Mexico Coalition for Community Rights

Friday, September 27, 2013

Santa Fe, Taos and Las Vegas, New Mexico
Saturday, Monday, Tued

“In the Name of Sustainability: A New Community Rights Movement”
Speaker: Thomas Alan Linzey, Esq.

Thomas Linzey, an attorney and the Executive Director of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund – a nonprofit law firm which has assisted over three hundred community groups and municipal governments across the country – will speak about a new community rights movement which is emerging across the United States. 

That movement consists of local communities which are beginning to use municipal lawmaking power to transition towards economic and environmental sustainability. Linzey will talk about how those communities – in eight states across the country – are beginning to not only use the law to move towards sustainability, but are also working to elevate the rights of people, communities, and nature above powers claimed by corporations and other governments. 

To illustrate, Linzey will tell the stories of Mora County, New Mexico (the first county in the country to protect their land from oil and gas drilling); Barnstead, New Hampshire (the first municipality to protect their water supplies from corporate water bottling operations); and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (the first major municipality to adopt a local bill of rights protecting residents from fracking for natural gas).

 Linzey will also talk about the international work of the Legal Defense Fund – now occurring in Nepal, Australia, Italy, and India – to create legal structures which recognize the rights of ecosystems and nature; and his work to assist in the drafting and ratification of the Ecuadorian constitution, the first in the world to incorporate rights-based protections for nature. Linzey will finish his presentation with a summary of how people in New Mexico can begin this work by using local lawmaking and home rule charters to expand the authority of residents within communities to use their self-governing authority to determine the future of their own communities.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Ban Fracking Campaign, From Ireland to New Mexico
 By Kathleen Dudley

A number of  local grassroots groups fighting fracking in New Mexico are launching a billboard and yard sign campaign. Citizens from the New Mexico Coalition for Community Rights, Drilling Mora County, and Committee for Clean Water, Air and Earth completed the Water, Not Fracking, Community Rights for Mora and San Miguel Counties yard sign and billboard campaign this month. Today citizens are installing graphic Coca Cola red and white cows with strong pronouncements that industry is not welcome to frack their counties.

Joining in solidarity with the work of citizens in Ireland, people in New Mexico are getting the message out that they do indeed have the rights to protect their communities from industry’s assaults against their pristine rural agricultural towns. While the majority of citizens in both counties support “no drilling or fracking,” the billboards and yard signs create a powerful visual representation of the citizens’ voices. They pound the message out more loudly to  the State of New Mexico legislators, government agencies, and Royal Dutch Shell and their subsidiaries who, through Dillon’s Rule and pre-emption, can decided what is good for Mora and San Miguel County over the decision of the majority of citizens.

This campaign is an assertion of democratic voice and of the citizens’ rights to a renewable, sustainable future. Currently state law makes such pronouncements and actions on the local level, illegal. Local Community Rights Ordinances with a Bill of Rights protecting citizens and nature’s rights is an “out of the box” approach which is gaining momentum across the U.S. and specifically in Northeastern New Mexico where citizens are standing up to the powers of the status quo and their bullying efforts. More than 50 communities across the U.S. have passed such Community Rights Ordinances thanks to the help of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund.

The City of Las Vegas, New Mexico in San Miguel County, passed the first Community Rights Ordinance banning fracking last April. This city law has a Bill of Rights protecting the citizens rights to clean and ample water, air and land while writing out corporate personhood. The City of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania passed a similar Community Rights Ordinance banning fracking in December 2011, and is the largest city in the U. S. to take such protective actions.