"HOBBS, N.M.—Hearings on Gov. Bill Richardson's proposed changes to regulations adopted in 2008 for oil and gas pits have been delayed after starting earlier this month.

Richardson proposed six changes to the pit rule after oil industry representatives complained it was too punitive and discouraged business in New Mexico.

The modifications were prepared by the state Oil Conservation Division.

A hearing on the proposed changes began April 2 in Santa Fe and continued through the next day before further discussion was postponed.

OCD representatives could not be reached for comment, but attendees at the hearing said the OCD was expected to announce at an Oil Conservation Committee meeting Wednesday when the hearings would resume. The participants said they thought the hearings would resume at the end of the month.

One dispute over the proposed changes concerns an increase in the amount of chloride that oil drillers could bury in lined pits at drilling operations.

The Pit Rule standards for chloride are currently below the state's safety standards for drinking water, according to industry representatives. The proposed change would increase by 12 times the concentration of chloride that can be buried." More>>>>