Conservation Committee Votes Against Protecting New Mexico From Fracking
Albuquerque, NM—This week, in an eight to two vote, the Senate Conservation Committee voted to table SB 547, a bill presented by Senator William Soules that would ban hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in New Mexico. Despite expert testimony from Engineer Mark Sardella who presented documented spills, water and ground contamination from fracking fluid and pollution into freshwater streams over a one-year time period, the majority of the committee voted to ignore their mandate to protect the public by tabling the bill.
“We will continue to work for a ban on all levels with thousands of New Mexicans who realize that without the precious commodity of fresh water, the desert Southwest is doomed both environmentally and economically,” said Eleanor Bravo, Organizer for Food & Water Watch New Mexico, the organization that put forth the legislation.
Fracking carries the risk of water contamination, spills and casing failures in primarily agricultural areas of New Mexico. Fracking not only puts the food produced in New Mexico in danger of contamination, but also cause farmers to compete for scarce water resources with the oil and gas industry. Plus, fracking encourages dependence on a finite, unsustainable resource and delays the creation of a renewable energy infrastructure.
Although hundreds of supporters for SB 547 attended the hearing, many were denied entry into the small hearing room and only five were allowed to testify. Many of the concerned citizens who attended the hearing reside in New Mexican counties most threatened by increased fracking activities. These residents are also fighting at the local level to ban fracking from their communities.
In his closing statement, Sardella outlined a history of regulatory neglect and inaction that has significantly impacted the health of Americans to highlight the need for legislative action on fracking:
“In 1923, an engineer from Standard Oil convinced the U.S. Surgeon General that it was safe to blend a known neurotoxin with gasoline. Subsequent studies showed that 68 million American children were exposed to toxic lead levels and 325,000 American died from exposure to leaded gasoline.”
In 1970, electric utilities convinced the US Environmental Protection Agency that coal-fired power plants posed no threat to public health. Subsequent studies showed that particulate pollution from coal-fired power plants had been killing 30,000 Americans annually.
In 2005, the oil and gas industry convinced Congress that slickwater, multi-stage hydraulic fracturing in horizontal wells is so safe that the process should be exempt from enforcement under the Safe Drinking Water Act. What is unfolding in the wake of that is the most serious public threat ever perpetrated by the industry.”
The spill data presented by Engineer Mark Sardella was compiled from New Mexico Oil Conservation Division public information found here: https://wwwapps.emnrd.state.nm.us/ocd/ocdpermitting/Data/Incidents/Spills.aspx.
Contact: Eleanor Bravo, Food & Water Watch, [email protected], 505-730-8474