KUNM

Drilling Deep Into Northwestern New Mexico's Oil And Gas Industry

Dec 16, 2014

Oil well flare near Counselor, New Mexico
Credit Laura Paskus

Over the next few months, I’m going to be exploring natural gas drilling and the burgeoning oil industry in northwestern New Mexico for KUNM. It’s an ambitious series, but I’m looking forward to learning how drilling affects the local economy, as well as the state of New Mexico’s coffers.

What’s happening in the region right now is new and different from the natural gas drilling that’s occurred in the San Juan Basin for more than half a century. (And even though “fracking” has become a national phenomenon, it’s been happening here in the Land of Enchantment for decades.) The industry brings hundreds of millions of dollars into the state, but it also comes with impacts to public health, the environment, communities, and water resources. Throughout the course of this series, I’ll also be exploring how decisions are made, what the planning process is like, and how things like spills, blowouts, or accidents are handled.

Credit Laura Paskus

It’s a journey I hope listeners and readers will come along on – in large part because while the revenues from oil and gas development benefit everyone in the state, many of its impacts are confined to smaller communities many KUNM listeners may consider distant. I’ve already heard from people who have wondered about the new wells being drilled alongside Highway 550 near Lybrook and Counselor, New Mexico. Many people have passed them while driving from Albuquerque to Farmington or Durango, Colorado. Throughout the course of this series, I’ll be bringing you up close and personal to those wells, along back roads, into the skies, and face-to-face with the people who live and work nearby.

Throughout this project, you’ll be hearing many different voices from a diversity of backgrounds and opinions. Those people will include federal, state, and tribal officials; economists; activists and citizens; scientists and archaeologists; and representatives and workers from the industry itself. Some of the pieces will be broadcast on air at KUNM 89.9 – Albuquerque and some will only appear online. I hope that you’ll share the stories, discuss them on social media and share your comments and experiences with KUNM online.

Funding for KUNM’s new series Drilling Deep - exploring the impacts of the oil and gas industry in northwestern New Mexico – comes from the New Venture Fund.