Wednesday, February 27, 2013
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"Residents in counties where drilling is less established — San Miguel, Taos, Mora and Rio Arriba, for example — have another point of view. So worried are county governments, in fact, that they are considering following Santa Fe County in writing more restrictive rules that companies must follow if they want to drill. Rio Arriba has an ordinance, and is considering amendments to tighten it.
To head off the renegade counties, the state and industry would like to clarify just who controls drilling regulations. Stepping up to help out is state Sen. Carlos Cisneros, D-Questa, who has introduced Senate Bill 463, which would cede power to the state — taking away a county government’s right to protect its water and land as it sees fit. This is an industry-backed bill, and somewhat surprising for Cisneros, who is calling it a way to start a conversation about state and local authority. Well, we agree that he has sparked a debate, perhaps a more fiery one than he wanted. It only makes sense to let the people closest to the land and water decide what happens in their backyards. Just as folks in Hobbs and Lovington don’t seem to mind drilling, farmers and small ranchers in Mora County or Rio Arriba County want more answers about whether drilling will damage their water — and that should be their prerogative. The backlash been so loud, that Cisneros is thinking of switching the bill’s status to a memorial that requests a study. He is right that the two viewpoints — locals’ desire to protect their land and water, and an industry’s need to develop resources and make money — are often “diametrically opposed.” We’d say the good senator should side with his constituents over the needs of industry."