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Rule change on drilling is a bad idea

(The Sept. 11) Albuquerque Journal article “Rule change sought in one of U.S.’ oldest producing basins” is an important call to action for New Mexicans – not just to Attorney General Hector Balderas and environmentalists, but for all of us who call New Mexico home.

I grew up in the Permian Basin in southeastern New Mexico, and for seven years was a resident of the San Juan Basin and understand the value and benefits of responsible drilling. In this case, Hilcorp (Energy Co.), the Oil Conservation Commission and the Gov. Susana Martinez administration are trying to pull a fast one, a move that disregards transparency and public input. The fact that Energy Secretary Ken McQueen and OCC Director Heather Riley both used to work for WPX Energy, which was active in the San Juan Basin for years, and other members of the commission are also right out of the oil and gas drilling sector raises eyebrows. The deck is clearly stacked against protecting the land, the air, the vistas, water and the multi-use nature of the San Juan Basin.

Hilcorp and the OCC know this is wrong. Why else would they have tried earlier in the year to allow OCC Division Staff to make decisions and bypass the public input process? Why else would they publish notice over a holiday weekend, allowing only minimal time for any intervention?

Like many other New Mexicans, I watch the New Mexico True commercials luring visitors. I take pride in the fact that we can enjoy beautiful terrain, clean air and blue skies and want to share it with others. This proposal, if passed, will continue to increase the high methane levels in the air of the basin, solidifying the designation as a methane hot spot; destroy some of the worlds’ best fly fishing and hunting; and take San Juan and Rio Arriba counties off the N.M. True list of best places to visit. As it continues the destruction of the environment and the air quality it will ultimately discourage tourism.

Don Schreiber and I share with others the pride of being born and raised in New Mexico. Our parents came here with their parents or on their own because this was the land of enchantment, opportunity, open spaces and blue skies. We are the parents of three children who have children of their own – all of whom live in other places. If ever they decide to return to New Mexico, we want to be able to say we did everything we could to protect the place they call home.

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