Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Texas Oil Firm on Verge of Drilling OK: Rio Arriba County To Vote on Permits

While I found this article quite one-sided, I figured that I would post it anyways because it gives me another opportunity to ask why the New York City Watershed is more important than our watersheds.

ALBUQUERQUE JOURNAL, N.M. | JESSICA DYER | 1 hour, 31 minutes ago


Dec. 29--Texas-based oil company Approach Operating, which began its controversial bid to drill in the Rio Chama watershed area of northern New Mexico more than two years ago, may soon get the final goahead it needs to start.

The Rio Arriba County Commission is expected to vote on three Approach applications to drill five exploratory wells near Tierra Amarilla after a public hearing this week in Tierra Amarilla.

These are the first proposed wells in the newly created "frontier" district to go before the commission since the board adopted an oil and gas ordinance in May, Rio Arriba Planning and Zoning Director Gabriel Boyle said.

It's also the latest development in a saga that dates back years.

The state's Oil Conservation Division approved four of Approach's drilling permits back in 2007.

Critics of the wells feared that drilling in the scenic and water-rich eastern areas of Rio Arriba County would put the Rio Chama and area streams at risk. Those concerns led to a county moratorium on new drilling, intended to give Rio Arriba officials time to draft the new ordinance. Approach challenged the moratorium with a lawsuit but then dropped it.

Though the issue has been controversial, neither Boyle nor one critic of drilling in the watershed anticipate a public outcry because the proposed wells are in far better locations than some of the others initially planned [they are still in the watershed mind you, and the people I have spoken to about it are not exactly thrilled] by Approach and are in compliance with the county's ordinance that has specific guidelines for drilling in the "frontier" area. More>>>