What’s at Stake


This is a drinking water issue!

~ Donald T. Phillips

The oil and gas industry is targeting the Rio Grande River Valley in north-central New Mexico for horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracking. In Summer 2017, they proposed an oil-and-gas-friendly ordinance to Sandoval County. With few restrictions, it would have encouraged and allowed horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracking in the unincorporated areas of the County.

Flawed Ordinance

Deeply flawed, that ordinance failed to address health, safety and environmental issues. Without any provisions for public input or public notification, a County resident could literally wake up one morning with a drilling crew in their backyard, totally unannounced!

Critical Issues

There are critical concerns about fracking in this area. Due to the unique, highly-faulted substructure of the Rio Grande Rift, fracking here would pose a direct threat to the sole drinking water aquifer that underlies the entire Albuquerque Basin. The reasons for this are:

  • An active rift valley is one of the most active geological formations on earth, with immense tectonic forces exerting pressure on the earth’s crust. This means that the Albuquerque Basin, centered in the Rio Grande Rift, is highly faulted.

    • There are only four active continental rift valleys on earth.

    • The Rio Grande Rift is one of them.

    • It's the only one in North America.

  • The Basin aquifer runs from Cochiti Lake in the north to Belen in the south. This one aquifer is shared by the highly-populated areas of Sandoval, Bernalillo and Valencia Counties, and accounts for over 800,000 residents.

  • Drilling anywhere in this highly-faulted Basin can readily transport contaminates through faults directly into the drinking water supply for the entire region.

The Renewed Threat in Summer 2018

Although Sandoval County rejected that highly-flawed oil and gas ordinance in December 2017, the oil and gas lobby remains intent on passing an industry-friendly ordinance. And, in Summer 2018, industry representatives placed a new, pro-drilling ordinance before Sandoval County officials, and are lobbying hard for its passage soon - sometime in Fall 2018.

As part of the industry's renewed efforts they:

  • initiated a public relations ad campaign across local television channels in an attempt to convince the public that fracking here is safe.

  • and consistently deny that fracking poses any risk to public health or to the environment.

Nothing could be further from the truth. This reckless ordinance poses an imminent threat to our drinking water.

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©️2018 Lewis Jacobs, Craig Barth, Donald T. Phillips. All rights reserved.