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.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

New Mexico Coalition for Community rights Declaration

The New Mexico Coalition for Community rights Declaration
We, the undersigned residents of New Mexico, the people of sovereign and tribal Nations, and the communities in which we live, hereby declare the following:
Whereas, our communities are under siege from oil and gas, agribusiness, energy, and other corporations;
Whereas, our communities are under siege from a structure of law that has bestowed greater rights on those corporations than on the communities in which they operate, and it is that system of law that enables the corporations to do what they do;
Whereas, we recognize that such a system— which grants a corporate few the legal authority to override our community majorities— constitutes tyranny and usurpation, we are therefore duty bound to oppose such tyranny and usurpation;
Whereas, we recognize that economic and environmental sustainability have been rendered illegal under this system of law, that nature is treated as property and as having no rights, and that this system is not democratic;
Whereas, given the control by those corporations over our elected representatives, we have given up hope that either our state government or the federal government will help protect us from these corporations;
Whereas, we declare that if democracy means “majority rule” and “consent of the governed,” that a democracy does not exist in our communities or in the State of New Mexico, and that we must now create democracy in our municipalities and within the State; and
Whereas, we now call on communities across the State of New Mexico to do the following:
·      Adopt local laws that recognize community rights for New Mexico residents and municipalities, including legal rights for the natural environment;
·      Include in those local laws direct challenges to the legal doctrines that currently mandate that corporations have greater rights than residents of our communities;
·      Join together with other communities across the State to create a statewide movement focused on rewriting the State Constitution to recognize a right to local self-government which eliminates these legal doctrines at the State level, to protect the local laws adopted within our municipalities; and
·      Join together with other statewide movements to rewrite the federal Constitution to elevate the rights of people and communities above the claimed rights of corporations.
Andrew Feldman, Las Vegas (6/2/2012)
Kathleen Dudley, Ocate (6/2/2012)
Don Hamilton, Ocate (6/2/2012)
Miguel Pacheco, Las Vegas (6/2/2012)
Lee Einer, Las Vegas (6/2/2012)
Natalie Thomas, Laguna Pueblo (6/2/2012)
Judith Lawson, Santa Fe (6/2/2012)

New Mexico Communities Launch Statewide Coalition to Advocate for Community Rights

New Mexico Coalition for Community Rights
PO Box 67, Ocate, New Mexico

 “I will be working with the New Mexico Coalition for Community Rights to inform other municipal and county governments about how we can make changes in our own communities and then take this further to the state and, eventually the federal levels. The important point here is we the people have a right to determine what happens in our communities and no one else. However, we have to work around and eventually change the current legal framework that is set up to benefit the corporations. This will be a long and hard road, but we have to start now."                    Andrew Feldman, sponsor of the new Las Vegas Community Rights Ordinance and former Las Vegas, NM City Councilman.
June 18, 2012
CONTACT: Kathleen Dudley
 575 666 2529

(Monday, June 18th, 2012- New Mexico) This month, citizens from several New Mexico communities formally launched the New Mexico Coalition for Community Rights (NMCCR)

The creation of the New Mexico Coalition follows on the heels of the adoption by the City Council of Las Vegas, New Mexico of the first Community Rights Ordinance in the State. That ordinance creates a Community Bill of Rights and bans natural gas fracking within the municipality. The Coalition will work to support the residents of Las Vegas, New Mexico to enforce their ordinance, and will work to replicate the ordinances across the State of New Mexico. The Coalition will also host trainings across the State for those communities who want to follow the lead of Las Vegas, New Mexico.

Kathleen Dudley, one of the newly elected Directors of the Coalition, explained that “it has become clear that it is time for this Coalition to build a statewide organizing effort to link the many communities who are fighting for their right to local self-governance in the face of corporate projects ranging from large water withdrawals, hardrock mining, genetically modified crops, factory farms, low altitude military flyovers, water, air and soil pollution by nuclear waste, and oil and gas drilling.”

The Community Rights Ordinances make it unlawful  “for any corporation, or any director, officer, owner, or manager of a corporation, to harm citizens’ inalienable rights to clean water, air, health and safety of the residents.

The New Mexico Coalition for Community Rights is located in New Mexico and works in conjunction with the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund to help communities assert their fundamental rights to democratic local self-governance in order to develop and protect our sustainable future.

The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, located in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, has been working with people in Pennsylvania and throughout the United States and the world since 1995 to assert our fundamental rights to democratic local self-governance, and to enact laws which end destructive and rights-denying corporate action aided and abetted by state and federal governments.

Deadly chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing revealed
Jerry Nelson
May 31, 2012

As hundreds of natural gas deposits have been found in Idaho a drilling boom has started which is starting to spread over 32 states.

The main method for extracting the natural gas is known as hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking".  Fracking has been called safe since a 2004 study by EPA said it posed to risk to drinking water.

The George W. Bush administration -- with the collusion of congress -- used the 2004 EPA study to push through and justify legislation of what is called the "Halliburton loophole".  This loophole EXEMPTS fracking from the Safe Drinking Water Act.  Legislation also exempted fracking from the Clean Water and Clean Air Acts....continued.....

Friday, May 25, 2012

Company hopes to move forward with gas drilling; Shell plans to come north with testing in northeast N.M.--Raton Range

For the 2nd time in a month and a half, the Raton Range has advertised for Royal Dutch Shell with an article about their hopes to drill in North Eastern New Mexico.  Asking for one size fits all from county to county, industry is doing their best to convince local county governments with fancy dinners and stories of untold riches.  Here is industry's 2nd advertisment by Todd Wildermuth, Editor of the Raton Range.  Raton boasts the Raton Basin, already becoming dewatered according to OGAP director in a statement in 2009.  Google earth this area to see the industrialization of this area and compare to San Juan County near Farmington.  Both areas have fallen victim to the oil industry as the land has become riddled with roads, well pads and the air and water stink with fumes from drilling and hyrdaulic fracturing.  Today they want the Las Vegas Basin.  

May 22, 2012
Shell Oil Company hopes to move ahead soon with one or more new test wells in northeast New Mexico that could eventually lead the company to establish natural gas drilling operations throughout this part of the state, including Colfax County.

A Shell official this month told the Colfax County commission that the company wants to be ready with an adequate supply of natural gas when demand — and prices — for the natural resource rise. Although prices are at a 10-year low, the markets for natural gas are “always evolving,” according to Mike Smith, an enterprise service management adviser for Shell.

Eight counties in northeast New Mexico are referred to by industry officials as the Penn Play, an area that has gained attention to a degree that prompted a few industry representatives to make a presentation at January’s New Mexico Association of Counties Conference. One of the key points made during the presentation was that the companies would want a “uniform regulatory climate” across the multiple counties where they believe a large pool of natural gas may sit among the rock layers some 7,000 to 13,000 feet below the surface.....continued.....

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Mora County's 1st Oil and Gas Meeting, 2008

Diane Rehm Show--Fracking

The State of Vermont Bans Fracking

Governor Shumlin said the increased amounts of natural gas obtainable through hydraulic fracturing were not worth the risk to drinking water supplies.

    In the coming generation or two, “drinking water will be more valuable than oil or natural gas,” Shumlin said.

    “Human beings survived for thousands and thousands of years without oil and without natural gas,” he said. “We have never known humanity or life on this plant to survive without clean water.”

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Vermont Passes First Statewide Fracking Ban

 The State of Vermont's elected officials expressed their courage, moral compass, and leadership on behalf of the citizen's of Vermont through their vote to ban fracking!

 They upheld citizen's rights to clean water, air, land, health, safety, and the right to flourish within their own communities.  These birth rights are held sacred by these impressive lawmakers.

  08 May 2012
Washington, DC--(ENEWSPF)--May 8, 2012.  On May 4, the Vermont House of Representatives voted 103-36 to give final passage to legislation that will make Vermont the first state in the nation to ban the practice of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas. Fracking is a method of extracting natural gas from deep in the ground by injecting a mixture of water, sand and toxic chemicals —including biocides— under high pressure into dense rock formations such as shale, in order to crack the rock and release the gas.

“The Vermont Legislature deserves tremendous praise for having the courage to stand up to all of the lobbying, the full page ads, and the legal threats of the oil and gas industry,” said Paul Burns, executive director of the Vermont Public Interest Research Group. “This is a shot that will be heard, if not around the world then at least around the country.”

According to a minority staff report released last year by the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce, more than 650 commonly used fracking products contain chemicals that are “known or possible human carcinogens, regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act, or listed as hazardous air pollutants.” In its report, The Case for a Ban on Gas Fracking, Food and Water Watch summarizes data by The Endocrine Disruption Exchange showing that 25 percent of fracking chemicals could cause cancer, 37 percent could disrupt the endocrine system, 40 to 50 percent could affect the nervous, immune and cardiovascular systems, and more than 75 percent could affect the sensory organs and respiratory system, likely causing problems such as skin and eye irritation and flu-like symptoms. . . continued . . .

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Four Dollars for a Gallon of Water? The Dream of Monsanto and Other Corporations Wanting to Privatize Water

The minera leases  filed at the Mora County Clerk's office show that not only the oil and gas was leased.  They show with but one or two exceptions, the landowners unknowingly or knowingly leased their water resources to SWEPI (Shell Western Exploratory Production Inc).  This means they have leased their water without restriction.

When the water is either depleted or contaminated or both, and bottled water costs $4 per gallon, will the $1 per acre or $25 per acre lease be the "wealth" the landowners counted upon?

Some people have been seeing this leasing as a "water grab" in the Las Vegas basin....and they could be correct in their speculation.  Pickens, Monsanto, Royal Dutch Shell and Nestle seem to think clean drinking water is a good investment.

Four dollars for a gallon of gas is ridiculous enough, but $4 for a gallon of water could someday became a reality, that is if oil tycoons like T. Boone Pickens and water bottling companies have their way. Privatization of water in which companies control the public's water sources and free water is a thing of the past appears to be what Pickens and corporations such as Monsanto, Royal Dutch Shell, and Nestle are banking on to increase their vast fortunes.

Companies, brokers and billionaires are buying up groundwater rights and aquifers. Groundwater is necessary for agriculture and more water is needed to meet a growing demand for food. Many countries have already over-pumped their groundwater to feed increasing local populations. Combine this with climate changes and an ever-increasing strain on water resources due to a rapidly growing world population and you have got a future where water is called "blue gold" because of its scarcity and high cost.

Vermont-- Fracking Ban Passes Senate 27-1
April 18, 2012
Statement of Paul Burns, Executive Director of VPIRG on Passage of H.464, the Ban on Hydraulic Fracturing in Vermont
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
The 27-1 vote of the Vermont Senate in favor of a ban on fracking for natural gas in the state is an important statement about the legislature’s commitment to clean energy, and its intention to protect public health and natural resources from the dangers of this practice.
This vote brings Vermont one step closer to becoming the first state in the nation to ban the dirty and dangerous practice of fracking. This is exactly the kind of leadership that is needed on this issue.
Fracking is wreaking havoc in nearby states. This bill sends a clear message to the oil and gas industry that we value clean water too much to allow fracking in Vermont....continued.....

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Fracking Frenzy's Impact on Women

Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” has generated widespread media attention this year. The process, which injects water and chemicals into the ground to release "natural" gas and oil from shale bedrock, has been shown to contribute signficantly to air and water pollution and has even been linked to earthquakes. But little has been reported on the ways in which fracking may have unique impacts on women. Chemicals used in fracking have been linked to breast cancer and reproductive health problems and there have been reports of rises in crimes against women in some fracking "boom" towns, which have attracted itinerant workers with few ties to the community....continued....