Topic: New Mexico

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Another local fracking ban invalidated

Throughout the country, supporters and opponents of local fracking bans have engaged in a fierce debate over the legality of such legislation. Indeed, suits have been filed in California, Colorado, New York, Texas, and West Virginia to challenge anti-fracking measures enacted by localities. The majority of courts to consider the legality of these local ordinances have held that the anti-fracking measures are invalid. Yet another court has reached the same conclusion. In this latest case, the United States District Court for the District of New Mexico invalidated a fracking ban enacted by Mora County.

In 2013, Mora County adopted an … Continue Reading

Fracking dominates the November ballot

One of the most highly debated issues during the November election was the question of whether localities have the authority to enact fracking bans. Several cities throughout the country have attempted to enact prohibitions against hydraulic fracturing with varying degrees of success. Denton, Texas has become one of the latest cities to consider such a ban.

On November 4th, Denton residents voted on whether the city should enact a ban against hydraulic fracturing within the city limits. The measure passed with 59 percent of Denton residents voting in favor of the measure and 41 percent voting against it. The Denton … Continue Reading

US geological survey researchers release findings on reports of induced seismicity in Colorado and New Mexico

Researchers with the US Geological Survey recently released a study claiming a link between wastewater injection and reported seismicity in the Raton Basin of Northern New Mexico and Southern Colorado. The researchers sought to explain a series of August-September 2011 earthquakes in the region and claimed that there was “strong evidence that [the] earthquake sequence [was] induced by fluid injection in the area.” They came to this conclusion in part because “earthquake rate change” over time appeared “to be solely coming from the area of the wells.”

This is the latest in a series of studies seeking to explain reported … Continue Reading

EPA reviews states’ solid waste management regulations for oil and gas operations

In an April 1, 2014 memorandum, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) summarized state regulatory programs concerning the management of solid waste from oil and natural gas exploration, development and production (E&P) operations.

In reviewing each state’s regulations, the EPA focused on surface storage and disposal facilities managing produced waters, drilling muds, drilling cuttings, hydraulic fracturing return fluids, and various other waste liquids and materials intrinsically related to oil and gas E&P.

The EPA found that the state regulations were primarily concerned with the “technical requirements associated with the design, construction, operation, maintenance, closure, and reclamation of surface pits, … Continue Reading

Lesser prairie-chicken added to US Fish and Wildlife Service’s list of threatened species

After more than 15 years of review, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced on March 27, 2014 that the lesser prairie-chicken, a species of prairie grouse, is a “threatened” species, a step below “endangered” under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

The lesser prairie-chicken’s population is in rapid decline, due largely to habitat loss and fragmentation and the on-going drought in the southern Great Plains.

Once abundant across much of the five range states of Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas and Colorado, the lesser prairie-chicken’s habitat of native grasslands and prairies has been reduced by an estimated 84%. The … Continue Reading

House Democrats request hearing on induced seismicity

Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), ranking member of the House Committee on Natural Resources, issued a letter to their Republican counterparts requesting a joint hearing on the issue of seismic activity induced by the underground injection of wastewater from hydraulic fracturing activities. In the letter dated December 18, 2013, the members cite the increased seismic activity in previously seismically inactive locations, the critical need for additional data, and the potential regulatory gaps in current law that put people and property at risk from man-made earthquakes.

According to the … Continue Reading

USFWS Withdraws Proposed Endangered Status for Dunes Sagebrush Lizard


Today, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (“FWS”) withdrew its proposed rule to list the dunes sagebrush lizard as endangered under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (“ESA”), finding that the best scientific and commercial data available indicate that the threats to the species and its habitat have been reduced to the point that the dunes sagebrush lizard does not meet the statutory definition of an endangered or threatened species.

According to FWS, the withdrawal is based on its conclusion that the threats to the species as identified in the proposed rule no longer are as significant as believed … Continue Reading

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