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re: Why quality oil & gas ordinances?

Let’s start with just one portion of the answer, maybe the most important answer, water usage. According to industry expert Kelly Tooker of NM Junior College who gave a presentation to a Sandoval County Commission Work Session on May 12, horizontal fracturing processes use on average 4.2 million gallons of water per fracking well. One fracking well is water for approximately forty households for an entire year. But there will not be just one fracking well, and they could be scattered among our houses. We have no protective regulations in place.

The water that is used in the fracking process is eventually changed into a toxic waste and dumped two miles deep into disposal wells, permanently removing it from the natural water cycle. There is no Return Flow Credit for that water. Whereas forty households would actually return much of the water they use to the natural water cycle. The Oil Conservation Division (OCD) is the State agency that oversees oil and gas operations in New Mexico. The OCD website says that nearly two billion gallons of water are used in the fracking processes each year in New Mexico alone. They also say this is only one percent of the total annual water usage for the state. The problem is that our water is turned into toxic waste and dumped somewhere (another important issue). Add that water loss up year after year. At what point should we be alarmed?

As a New Mexico building contractor, I am familiar with the federal and state regulations that guide my industry. In addition to those regulations there are over one hundred pages of Sandoval County regulations that we in the construction industry must abide by. Anyone subdividing a tract of land in certain areas of Sandoval County that would support forty households would need to prove a fifty-year supply of water. Shouldn’t the same be true for the oil and gas industry, which competes with all other users for the same water? New Mexicans depend on access to clean water. Our county depends on water. Our water must come first.

The Albuquerque Basin is water to over 800,000 users, forty percent of all New Mexicans. There is oil and gas beneath it. The Albuquerque Basin spans several Counties, including Sandoval and Bernalillo Counties. In order to protect the water for their 600,000 water users The Water Protection Advisory Board of the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority has issued a Letter of Recommendation to the City of Albuquerque and Bernalillo County for oil and gas ordinances. Understanding the significant threats to the basin, officials in Albuquerque and Bernalillo County are also working in that direction.

We cannot take chances with our most precious resource, WATER. Oil and Gas Ordinances put in place rules to help ensure the industry operates ethically.  It’s time to go to Planning and Zoning meetings, County Commission meetings and to call your County Commissioners. Your presence, your voice, speaks volumes.                                            

—Mike Neas, Placitas

Eastern   Sandoval Citizens Association report (ES-CA)

~Chris Daul, ES-CA

At the May 18 Sandoval County Commission meeting, the scheduled vote on a settlement agreement between Sandoval County and Vulcan was removed from the agenda because of communication between ES-CA and the Commission. Subsequently, Commission Chair, Don Chapman, and Vice Chair, Dave Heil contacted ES-CA and asked to meet with a small group of Placitas residents to further discuss the issue. A meeting was held on May 19. We now believe that the County Commission will reject the settlement agreement. ES-CA did not believe that the proposed settlement was in the best interests of Placitas residents.

We anticipate moving forward to the trial, which is scheduled for October. ES-CA, and its Land Protection Trust (LPT), who have taken the lead in this matter, want to thank the community for their outpouring of support. This is evidence that our voices are important, especially when we stand together. And we want to congratulate the Commission for not only listening, but actually hearing what Placitas has to say.

This battle will continue to be expensive and we will be reaching out for your continued funding support. Go to the LPT contributions page at on the ES-CA website for more information on how you can participate.

In addition to sand and gravel mining, we are also facing the prospect of oil and gas drilling in Sandoval County. A draft ordinance, which provides very little oversight, has been prepared by the County Planning and Zoning staff. ES-CA has been monitoring this issue and attending P&Z meetings, as well as other County meetings. Some Commissioners have questioned why the County even needs an ordinance. Without protections, oil and gas drilling could occur almost anywhere in the County, without regard for water resources, other environmental concerns, or the wellbeing of residents.

Please let both the P&Z Commission members and the County Commissioners know that we need a strong ordinance to regulate oil and gas drilling in our County. And visit our website,, and come to our next meeting on June 5, at 6:30 p.m., at the Placitas Fire Station on Route 165 to find out how you can get involved.

Jim Fish, proprietor of Anasazi Fields Winery, reads his poem “The Trump Card: A Reality Show” during an Earth Day celebration at the winery in Placitas


As a young man
Before the birth of his son
The father had strategically planted trees
Around the mansion

Red Bud
And a pecan tree
The seedling gifted to him
By a friend
Who had a pecan orchard
Along the Rio Grande
On the Mexican side of the border

Growing up
The son never liked the trees
He crashed his bike into their trunks
They routinely ate his kites
They cast shadows
They blocked his view
In the fall
They dropped piles of leaves
That he had to rake and bag

He despised
In particular
The immigrant pecan tree

It served as a perch
For a great horned owl
Who ate his kitten one night
After his mother had warned him
To bring it in before dark

The pecan tree also attracted squirrels
They constantly scolded him
And raided the stupid bird feeders
That his mother made him fill each day

As the son grew
And aged
So did the trees

So did the levels of CO2
In the atmosphere

So did the amount of energy
Trapped in the system

So did the intensity
Of the extremes of the weather

Years on
The son
Now an isolated old man
Wrapped tightly
In his own delusional cloak
Sat on the porch of his mansion
Glaring at the trees

Early one morning
He tweeted:

I have been watching
I know
That it is the swaying
Of my father’s overgrown trees
That is causing
These fierce
Howling winds

Early the next morning
He tweeted:

I have taken care of the wind
I hired a crew yesterday
To cut down the trees

I had them save the immigrant
For last
With great delight
I watched it crash to the ground

Two nights later
The wind played its own trump card
Ripping the roof off the mansion

The old son
Awakened to the sickening sound
Of a two-foot diameter viga
From the ceiling of the garage
Flattening his golden Fiat

                        —Jim Fish, 2017

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