New Mexico Rep. Antoinette Sedillo Lopez, D-Albuquerque, has certainly stirred the pot with her proposal to ban fracking for the next four years in New Mexico. She apparently feels we need to further study the effects of fracking on groundwater. I would have thought that as a well-educated attorney, she would understand the facts about fracking and the many studies that have already been performed.
In particular, in 2015, President Barack Obama’s EPA concluded that while oil and gas activity did occasionally affect groundwater, it is not because of the fracking process itself but from surface spills or other mechanisms. (www.epa.gov/hfstudy/executive-summary-hydraulic-fracturing-study-draft-assessment-2015).
Further, it concluded that the number of those incidents was very low compared to the number of wells being fracked. In short, groundwater is not inherently in danger from the fracking process. Just ask Obama.
In terms of water use, a single frack stage can use 250,000 gallons of water. However, the San Juan Country Club uses 800,000 gallons of water a day in the summer months. So, a two-mile lateral that will recover 1 million barrels of oil uses about 20 days’ worth of golf course use. That million barrels provides the energy equivalent of powering 8,000 homes for 20 years, compared to a hundred golfers a day enjoying a round of golf. The amount of water used sounds like a lot, but in perspective, it is more than a worthy trade-off.
Finally, I’m surprised that someone who just got elected to the House of Representatives doesn’t have a better understanding of state finances and economic development. The $1.2 billion surplus the state is enjoying, along with all the new jobs that go with it, are all there on the back of the oil and gas industry and the fracking that is an absolutely necessary part of our business.
All the obstructionists, including our new freshman representative, want to ban the development and production of oil and gas. The ironic reality is that won’t have any effect at all on improving the environment. As long as she continues to drive her car and heat her home, oil and gas wells will have to be drilled somewhere to provide her that energy. Banning oil and gas in New Mexico or, God forbid, in the entire United States, will mean that the wells will just be drilled elsewhere, probably some place with less stringent environmental regulations. So ironically, all the environmental impact will still occur. What will be gone are the associated jobs, taxes and royalties that will no longer be there to support hardworking New Mexicans. That is just fracking ridiculous!