The Sandoval County commissioners are currently tasked with establishing the ordinance to regulate both ongoing and future gas and oil fracking in Sandoval County. Fracking is a complicated process, not without significant long- and short-term risks to our health, safety and environment. It is imperative, therefore, that beyond any short-term financial returns, it must provide strict and enforceable regulations and protections that protect our health and safety, our environment, property values and our quality of life. Such regulations do not currently exist. The ordinance must also reflect a comprehensive understanding of its long-term consequences and awareness that it will still conceal unintended consequences. The following questions must be honestly answered:
- Will potential short-term gains be more than offset by future health and environmental costs to individual residents and to Sandoval County and New Mexico government entities?
- What effects will negative environmental impacts – ground water contamination, dangerous methane and carbon dioxide emissions, pump jack noise – have on our health and safety?
- Do New Mexico and Sandoval County have the financial and personnel resources to resolutely monitor and supervise the construction and ongoing management of these wells and associated health, water, air and noise standards and regulations?
- Fracking can require millions of gallons of water per well. How many wells will be permitted? Is this the most responsible use of our limited life-giving resource?
- How will the ordinance hold the drilling companies accountable for damages and expensive cleanups resulting from inevitable accidents and spills? What is Sandoval County’s emergency response plan?
- What is the plan to restore the drilling sites when the wells are exhausted?
- Given we are in the Rio Grande rift, what are the seismic consequences?
- For Sandoval County to continue permitting minimally regulated fracking is totally unacceptable and fails to protect our rights to health, safety and a clean environment. What other entities are being consulted to address the many environmental, public health, legal and tax issues associated with fracking?
- Are we and our families willing to live next door to fracking operations?