What's Happening in Valencia County
Photo Credit: Anni Hanna from NM Climate Justice
As July comes to a close, we have some updates on what is happening in one of our neighboring counties to the southwest of us, Valencia County. Valencia County is home to a beautiful landscape, rich history, and an acequia community. Unfortunately, it is also being targeted for oil and gas development and continued heavy water users like Niagara Bottling Company and the current Facebook data center. On July 14 we joined ally organizations, like Valencia Water Watchers, and local residents to speak up against changes to the Natural Resources Overlay Zoning that oil overlord and member of the Republican National Committee Harvey Yates Jr requested. After hours and hours of public comment and discussion, the Valencia County Commission voted to approve the NROZ with some amendments to change zoning but with only a couple of protections. These are not enough to protect local residents or the environment not to mention the scarce water supplies in this area. NO to more fossil fuel development in New Mexico! While this is happening, Los Lunas Village Council is also set to hear request from Niagara Bottling Company to double the amount of water they are taking in the middle of our historic drought and while the state has told farmers to stop farming. Council hearing has been postponed from this week - in the meantime, please sign VWW's petition here: https://www.change.org/p/say-no-to-niagara-los-lunas-council-can-you-hear-us-now You can learn more about Valencia Water Watchers here.
Norm Gaume — former City of Albuquerque water resources manager and former director of the Interstate Stream Commission — called oil and gas a "dirty and contaminated" industry. Don Phillips, a former oil and gas exploration geologist, warned that drilling in the Rio Grande rift underneath Valencia and surrounding counties would be extremely dangerous, potentially damaging the freshwater aquifer that serves the entire mid-Rio Grande corridor. The Albuquerque Basin — an undeveloped zone potentially rich in hydrocarbons — is a highly fractured formation with numerous fault lines, Phillips said. Drilling there would likely disturb those fault lines, turning them into conduits for oil and gas to contaminate the basin's freshwater aquifer, while greatly heightening the risk of earthquakes. "You're just asking for trouble, in my view," Phillips said. "I just think if you start drilling water disposal wells in this basin, the probability of creating earthquakes is going to be 100%." READ ARTICLE HERE