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Ohio Utica Shale

New Mexico county bans natural gas-oil drilling

By Bob Downing Published: May 2, 2013

From the Associated Press:

A sparsely populated county in northern New Mexico has taken aim at the oil and natural gas industry.

The county has approved an ordinance that outlaws the extraction of the natural resources and puts the county's decision-making rights ahead of business interests and federal and state permits.

The Mora County Commission voted 2-1 on Monday in favor of the ordinance, which is aimed primarily at protecting groundwater sources across the county.

"Everyone understands the drought that New Mexico is currently in," Commission Chairman John Olivas said. "Our acequias and our irrigation canals are dry, so the whole idea is resource protection."

Olivas said he believes Mora County is the first in the nation to impose an outright ban on oil and gas development.

Some communities in New Mexico and elsewhere have passed moratoriums on oil and gas development, while others have tightened restrictions or banned the practice of hydraulic fracturing, in effect, severely limiting the amount of drilling that can be done.

In neighboring San Miguel County, a drilling moratorium has been in place for three years as county officials consider revamping regulations to address concerns about water use, road damage and drilling waste.

Since there are no active oil or gas wells within Mora County, experts say it's too soon to say what effect the ordinance will have, other than providing notice to the industry that it is not welcome.

Wally Drangmeister, a spokesman for the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association, said the potential of the natural gas deposits in the area may never be known if exploration isn't allowed and that could result in lost revenues for the county, as well as the rest of New Mexico.

In addition to putting the county off limits to oil and gas development, the ordinance establishes a bill of rights aimed at affirming the county's right to local autonomy and self-governance.

The ordinance states that any permits or licenses issued by either the federal or state government that would allow activities that would compromise the county's rights would be considered invalid.

"This is the fight that people have been too chicken to pick over the last 10 years, which is essentially deciding who makes decisions about the future of the places where we live," said Thomas Linzey, executive director of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund. "Either it's the people who live there or it's the corporations that have an interest in exploiting them. It's very basic."

The nonprofit law firm helped the county draft the ordinance and plans to defend it against any legal challenges. The Pennsylvania-based firm is also behind anti-fracking ordinances passed by the cities of Las Vegas, N.M., and Pittsburgh.



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Utica and Marcellus shale web sites

Ohio Department of Natural Resources' Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management State agency Web site.

ODNR Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management. State drilling permits. List is updated weekly.

ODNR Division of Geological Survey.

Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

Ohio State University Extension.

Ohio Farm Bureau.

Ohio Oil and Gas Association, a Granville-based group that represents 1,500 Ohio energy-related companies.

Ohio Oil & Gas Energy Education Program.

Energy In Depth, a trade group.

Marcellus and Utica Shale Resource Center by Ohio law firm Bricker & Eckler.

Utica Shale, a compilation of Utica shale activities.

Landman Report Card, a site that looks at companies involved in gas and oil leases.FracFocus, a compilation of chemicals used in fracking individual wells as reported voluntarily by some drillers.

Chesapeake Energy Corp,the Oklahoma-based firm is the No. 1 driller in Ohio.

Rig Count Interactive Map by Baker Hughes, an energy services company.

Shale Sheet Fracking, a Youngstown Vindicator blog.

National Geographic's The Great Shale Rush.

The Ohio Environmental Council, a statewide eco-group based in Columbus.

Buckeye Forest Council.

Earthjustice, a national eco-group.

Stop Fracking Ohio.

People's Oil and Gas Collaborative-Ohio, a grass-roots group in Northeast Ohio.

Concerned Citizens of Medina County, a grass-roots group.

No Frack Ohio, a Columbus-based grass-roots group.

Fracking: Gas Drilling's Environmental Threat by ProPublica, an online journalism site.

Penn State Marcellus Center.

Pipeline, blog from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Marcellus shale drilling.

Allegheny Front, environmental public radio for Western Pennsylvania.