Thursday, December 31, 2009

County Delays Decision on Tierra Amarilla Drilling

Article from the Rio Grande Sun regarding permits to drill in Rio Arriba County:

By Joe Crawford
SUN Staff Writer
Thursday, December 31, 2009 10:51 AM MST
A Texas-based oil company was told Tuesday to do some homework before it asks Rio Arriba County again for permission to drill in an ecologically sensitive area south of Tierra Amarilla.

The Rio Arriba County Commission voted unanimously to postpone a decision on whether to allow Approach Resources to start drilling five wells on land just west of Highway 84 about eight miles south of Tierra Amarilla. The Commissioners cited the company’s failure to specify a source of water for the project, saying more information was needed to make a decision.

“Unless we know where the water source is coming from, I find it very difficult to proceed with processing an application,” Commissioner Alfredo Montoya said.

Approach is the first company to try to drill in the Rio Chama basin in eastern Rio Arriba. Their announcement last year of a 90,000-acre mineral rights lease in the area triggered a 15-month County moratorium on drilling and a new County oil and gas ordinance, passed in May. Two months after the moratorium began, in June 2008, Approach filed a lawsuit against the County, which it later dropped.

Prior to that ordinance, the County Commission had not regulated oil and gas drilling, which is its main source of tax revenue. Tuesday’s meeting was the first time the Commission heard an application to drill.

The Commission discussed several concerns with the applications during the two-hour hearing, including potentials for water pollution and damage to wildlife. But the first major issue was brought up by Commissioner Felipe Martinez. More>>>