NM County Ordinance Bans Oil, Gas Development

May 1, 2013

Communities across the nation have imposed moratoriums on oil and natural gas drilling and some have banned the practice of hydraulic fracturing, but one northern New Mexico county has gone a step further.

The Mora County Commission has voted 2-1 in favor of an ordinance that makes it unlawful for any corporation to extract oil and natural gas within the sparsely populated county.

Commission Chairman John Olivas said Tuesday he believes Mora County is the first in the nation to impose an outright ban on oil and gas development. He says the ordinance is designed to protect the county's groundwater sources.

The ordinance also establishes a local bill of rights, which is aimed at affirming the county's right to local autonomy and self-governance.

Olivas says the county is bracing for legal challenges.