You’ve seen the New Mexico Oil & Gas Association ads: “We’ve been fracking for oil and natural gas for more than 50 years without one case of ground-water contamination.”
The oil and gas industry has targeted the central Rio Grande Valley for horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracking. In 2017 it proposed an oil and gas ordinance to Sandoval County that would, with few restrictions, have allowed unconventional drilling – a combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracking – in unincorporated areas of the county. Although it was rejected in December, another industry-friendly extraction ordinance was placed before Sandoval County this summer where it is currently pending.
Are industry claims of fracking’s safety true? Can horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracking be done anywhere in the Albuquerque Basin without endangering our drinking water aquifer?
In fact, horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracking – quite different from conventional fracking associated with vertical drilling – have only been going on nationwide for about 15 years. In New Mexico, it has been done predominantly in the San Juan and Permian basins in the northwest and southeast regions of the state. It has never been tried in the Albuquerque Basin.