Dear County Commissioners, City Councilors, Our Public Servants,
This is the area is where we have made our home. We love the aspects of our existence, the air, the sky, the wildlife, the trees, the sounds of nature, the freedom and the people. We have chosen to spend a considerable amount of time in the Sangre De Christos. Anyone who has visited us is amazed at the unspoiled beauty of the area. National Geographic thought enough of the area to write an extensive article on it calling it an area untouched by time. This was one of the last great-unspoiled beauties in North America.
This is no longer the case. In the Northwest area of County, The land has been taken over by the quest for the wealth that lies beneath it. In some cases the land is being attacked for the potential of wealth that may never be realized due to the geography. We have learned that we surface owners have no rights as is demonstrated daily by the Gas Industries encroachment on to our surfaces. There has been a total disregard for our rights in this quest. My friends from areas not affected by drilling cannot believe the current state of our mineral friendly environment.
We can look to our neighbors in Colorado, places that once had Elk, Deer, Bear, Columbines, Blue Spruce and Lark Buntings now has noise, dust, carcinogenic chemicals, fouled water and carcinogenic gas seeps. You need only to take a ride with a local to witness this first hand in Northwest Sandoval County. It is easy to live Monday to Friday in an office and it is another thing to live 24/7 with what most would call a “Rape of the Land”. In travel to the Northwest area of the County we have even had discussion with oil and gas employees who are very sad on the current state of affairs. They tell me of their plight, they are torn between what is ethical, moral and right and the need to feed and cloth their families by following their employer’s mandates. The industry knows what it is doing is not right, it can be done better. They Tout Jobs but the reality is that after the initial hire these employees are replaced by a cheaper labor force usually from Mexico or elsewhere South of the border. Now the Sandoval County Commission wishes to further exacerbate the wages with supporting “Right to Work.”
If you will take the time to go to the recent watch the video of the May 12th meeting you will see what their intent and profit really is. They are touting a 30% Internal Rate of Return on the activity in the Mancos Basin. When the drilling stops these IRRs will likely triple. I believe with the amount of revenue they will produce from Sandoval County they can well afford to do what a good “Corporate Citizen” should. They can clean up their act on methane releases and the 4600 spills since Governor Martinez took office, and they can still make profit. They can be made to pay impact fees, perform baseline studies, and mitigate all nuisances and still make money.
The County Commissioners rolling over for industry at the citizens and taxpayer expense is uncalled for. Sandoval County is the one of the poorest county in the state with the poorest being our next-door neighbor, McKinley County. The standard of living for the residents of these counties has not improved measurably and can be argued to have degraded with the gas boom that is taking place. When the drilling ceases so will the underpaid jobs. The counties will return to their post coal mining lows. A low that will create an unemployment rate greater than it is today, which is greater than on the American Indian Reservations. There has been little if any benefit to the people who live here.
Currently 20% of Sandoval County residents are without health insurance. The current cuts being proposed coupled with the associated risks of fracking on communities, the County with the associated health impacts could see health clinics filled to capacity and turning away people. This fracking poisoning and health risks will quickly ruin the health of borderline patients especially those with heart and respiratory illnesses. The Albuquerque Metro, along with the San Juan and McKinley Counties have some of the highest levels of children and elders suffering from asthma. The medical and social services have not benefited in this state, in fact the Governor in 2013, drastically cut health care, which has exacerbated health and safety in one of the poorest states in America. The recreational benefits have been degraded and the strain on the infrastructure is clearly visible to the human eye let alone what it has done to the balance sheets of the counties and cities affected in NM.
We are asking you as a responsible entity to do the proper thing and stand firm and consider tightening the standard on allowable noise levels associated with the oil and gas industries activities. It can be lowered to almost nothing if they would electrify all the wells, a technology that is here today and affordable. This is one of many steps that must be taken to insure a way of life is not lost entirely. You know in your heart what the correct decision is so make it. One just needs to look at the balance sheet of the oil and gas companies to understand their ability to do the right thing. There are stakeholders; they can help bring a responsible approach to our environmental and energy needs.
Common Ground Rising