Tuesday, December 8, 2009

NM oil and gas agency warns of fewer inspections

"ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) -- The New Mexico Oil Conservation Division says it will have to reduce its routine field inspections by 66 percent this year as the state grapples with a budget shortfall.

Division officials have told legislators that fewer inspections could place the environment and groundwater resources at risk and that processing new drilling applications could be delayed.

The Oil Conservation Division regulates the oil, natural gas and geothermal industries in New Mexico. It's also responsible for preventing contamination from oil and gas operations and reclaiming past environmental damage.

Division director Mark Fesmire says he's down seven inspectors and looming budget cuts will make it impossible to fill those positions.

Fesmire says the priority will be to process new drilling applications while making sure environmental regulations are followed."

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