Oil & Gas Contamination in New Mexico

Oil and Gas Industrial Contamination

New Mexico ranks second in natural gas production and fifth in oil production within the U.S. During 2001, 69.9 million barrels of oil and 1.6 trillion cubic feet of natural gas were produced. There are 57 different oil and gas companies drilling in New Mexico. The major oil and gas corporations drilling in just San Juan County alone are:

Oil and Gas WellsConocoPhilips
XTO (now owned by ExxonMobil)
Navajo Nation Oil and Gas
Aztec Drilling

Safeguards such as the 2008 Pit Rule theoretically reduce contamination of shallow groundwater aquifers. In 2008, the New Mexico Oil Conservation Commission approved a rule to reduce contamination of shallow groundwater aquifers from unlined pits. Before 2008, the oil industry self-reported more than 700 cases of groundwater contamination due to oil and gas development.

Hydrofracking is a method of injecting millions of gallons of clean water mixed with toxic chemincals and radioactive sand into a well. The pressure fractures the shale and props open fissures that enable natural gas to flow more freely out of the well. The safety of the water is a growing concern.

In New Mexico similar processes have leached toxic chemicals into the watertable at 800 sites.


Coal, Oil & Natural Gas

Source: New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources

Hydrofracking is exempt from the Safe Drinking Water Act. In 2005, at the urging of Vice President Dick Cheney, Congress created the so-called “Halliburton Loophole” to prevent regulation of hydrofracking, despite serious concerns that were raised about the chemicals used in the process and its demonstrated contamination of drinking water.

Tom Bearden reports from Colorado on June 15, 2011 that “A natural gas extraction method known as fracking is under sharp scrutiny in several states.”

“Back to Frack: What’s Old is New In New Mexico Drilling Regulations,” by Laura Paskus, December 21, 2011, Santa Fe Reporter First Person.

Each coal bed methane well uses between 50,000 and 350,000 gallons of water. Deeper horizontal shale wells can use 2,000,000 to 10,000,000 (2 to 10 million) gallons of water per well.

NGOs Working to Prevent Oil & Gas Industrial Contamination
Amigos Bravos – www.amigosbravos.org/
Drilling Santa Fe County – http://drillingsantafe.blogspot.com/
Partnership for Earth Spirituality – www.earthspirituality.org/
Sierra Club – http://nmsierraclub.org
The Endocrine Disruption Exchange – Dr. Theo Colborn
Western Mining Action Network – http://wman-info.org/


Oil & Gas Contamination in New Mexico — 2 Comments

  1. Hi!

    I’m researching water contamination in New Mexico. Can you tell me the source of the statement above that “Before 2008, the oil industry self-reported more than 700 cases of groundwater contamination due to oil and gas development”?


    • Hi Chelsea,

      I’m sorry not to answer you sooner. I’m sending your question to the original writer of that information for an answer.

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