Mora County commissioners to consider oil drilling ban

According to Staci Matlock of The Santa Fe New Mexican (Mora residents split over drilling, Feb. 26, 2008) Mora County commissioners will be holding a meeting on March 7th to discuss taking the radical step of banning all drilling for oil and gas throughout the county. Some residents are concerned about potential harm to endangered species in the area, water contamination, and destruction of the county’s natural beauty. Other residents feel that they have the right to decide what is done on their privately owned land.
Local ranchman Tony Duran has already signed a lease facilitated by KHL Inc. of Albuquerque, and is convinced that drilling would not pose a danger to the water resources in the area. I discussed the mineral leases with Journalist Staci Matlock and she told me that the mineral leases that have been signed in Mora thus far indeed do “include requirements for protecting water,” and in a previous article (Mora County residents torn over mineral leases, Feb. 16, 2008) she noted that, “Mora County… [has] protections for wells and water supplies written into the county’s development code. The code prohibits mining and other activities within a 1,000-foot radius of a well and prohibits activities that would contaminate water supplies.”
In the same article, Knute H. Lee, Jr., proprietor of KHL Inc., says, “New technology and know-how allows companies to drill for hydrocarbons while protecting both the environment and communities.” The company has clearly evaluated the critical issues involved and has worked out a plan to protect the interests of all the inhabitants of Mora County. A few citizens of the county have already signed leases with KHL and it would seem readily apparent that a ban on drilling would be detrimental to this business activity. The county commissioners should pay special attention to property owners who have the most to lose in this process. They should retain their legal authority to lease the minerals on their lands and collect royalties from any gas or oil collected.