Thursday, February 24, 2011

Protesters file motion to dismiss Augustin Plains Ranch LLC's applicatio to drill dozens of wells

El Defensor Chieftain
Written by T.S. Last
Wednesday, 23 February 2011 06:00

"Opponents of Augustin Plains Ranch LLC's proposal to drill dozens of wells near Datil and pump massive amounts of groundwater from the San Agustin Basin have filed motions with the Office of the State Engineer to have the application thrown out.

Though hundreds have protested the application, just two motions to dismiss were filed before the Feb. 11 deadline.

"We try to consolidate them in an attempt to somewhat streamline the positions or motions," said Jess Ward, District 1 supervisor for the Water Rights Division of the Office of the State Engineer.

The motions to dismiss came from attorneys Steven Hernandez and Samantha Barncastle, on behalf of the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District, and Bruce Frederick and Douglas Meiklejohn of the New Mexico Environmental Law Center, which is representing approximately 80 of the protesters.

In addition to the motions to dismiss, the OSE reported that a supplemental pleading titled "Claimants' Brief in Opposition to the Validity/Specificity of Application Specifications" from attorney Ron Shortes of Pie Town was received Feb. 15.

Shortes filed the pleading on behalf of the Board of Catron County Commissioners, himself, Shortes XX Ranch, Walkabout Creek Ranch and Sandra Carol Coker and Ronald Goecks.

Shortes said in a phone interview on Tuesday that his filing simply reinforced what the other attorneys had written in their motions to dismiss.

"Quite frankly, all I'm doing is affirming that they did a good job and that I agree with what they're saying," he said. "They are obviously very good water lawyers, and what they did was very good."

Frederick, a staff attorney for the Environmental Law Center, summed up the argument against the application in a press release last week.

"The application has to be thrown out, because it is so vague and speculative that the State Engineer can't evaluate or approve it," he said." More>>>>

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