Source: The Santa Fe New Mexican, November 24, 2013
Posted on: http://envfpn.advisen.com
It is a script destined for a Hollywood movie: A rural, low-income, mostly Hispanic New Mexico county passes a community rights ordinance, bans oil and gas drilling, and is sued by rich, greedy oil and gas barons.
“We’re protecting our water,” say two Mora County commissioners who support the ordinance.
“It’s unconstitutional,” cry the Independent Petroleum Producers of New Mexico and a couple of private property owners who are suing over the ordinance. Their lawsuit was filed Nov. 15 in federal District Court.
People around the U.S. and the world who are deeply concerned about the influence of big corporations and the potential environmental damage from hydraulic fracturing methods — used to tap oil and gas supplies — cheer on Mora County.
But there’s more to this story — nuances and tensions that are hard to uncover unless you were born and raised in this hard-scrabble, beautiful and resilient Northern New Mexico county.
Most Mora County residents oppose oil and gas drilling. But some of them say there were better ways to prevent drilling, strategies that had a better chance of standing up in court. They believe the ban was an ill-advised move that will have high costs for an already cash-strapped county government and will gain it nothing except attention.
Others say the ordinance is an example of an outside Anglo group using a poor, minority county for its own ends.