Even as prices plummet, Rapid City-based Black Hills Corp. remains focused on its substantial oil and natural gas holdings in the Mancos Shale within the San Juan and Piceance basins. The firm is bankrolling water diversions, too.
Now, fracking is adding to the methane bubble over the Four Corners area from leaks and flaring escalating a serious threat to Chaco Culture National Historical Park.
In the first installment of KUNM’s new series Drilling Deep, we explore northwestern New Mexico – and the Chacoan landscape. “I get an overwhelming feeling of, I'm coming back to a wonderful ancient place," says Paul Reed, an archaeologist with the nonprofit Archaeology Southwest. “It might sound a little corny, but a lot of people have that quasi-religious experience driving into Chaco.” The U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s plan for the area is more than ten years old. Now, this federal agency, which is in charge of leases and regulations, is trying to catch up. A new plan would open more land to oil drilling. And that has people like archaeologist Paul Reed worried development will press further south. And even closer to Chaco. But just recently, oil prices started coming down. Way down. So, what does that mean for the Chaco and the San Juan Basin? Right now, nobody really knows for sure. [Laura Paskus, KUNM]The sign for Black Hills Exploration and Production in Bloomfield, New Mexico was head-snapping on the recent drive to Chaco Wash.
Susana Martinez may also be acting out to a national audience as she is always mentioned on the “short list” of Republican VP candidates for 2016, but behind the scenes she and NMED Secretary Ryan Flynn are quietly fighting New Mexico citizens by supporting polluting industries, going against EPA guidelines and passing their own version of “The Copper Rule,” which allows mining, oil, gas and dairy industries to continue to pollute groundwater on their property as long as it doesn’t leave the property. [Alex Jacobs, Indian Country Today]Note that the oil and gas industry creates mountains of radioactive waste like filter socks looking for disposal sites even as New Mexico's Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) recovers from breaches.
When Black Hills Corp. greases candidates like Heather Wilson while South Dakota's Board of Minerals and Environment makes conflicts of interest harder to find and the Public Utilities Commission is stacked with Republicans, the blur of the revolving door is vertiginous .
Alaska Natives are applauding President Obama for stopping new leases for drilling in Bristol Bay: he can stop it at Chaco, too.