The oil and gas industry in New Mexico is a big deal. It supports the state budget with hundreds of millions of dollars each year. But there are impacts, too – on air quality, water, public health and even cultural sites. In the first installment of KUNM’s new series Drilling Deep, we explore northwestern New Mexico – and the Chacoan landscape.
To reach Chaco Culture National Historical Park, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, you hang a left off highway 550 near Nageezi, New Mexico and head south.
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.
The morning I flew out of the Farmington airport with Bruce Gordon, from ecoFlight, I had to leave Albuquerque long before the light of dawn. And while I didn't have much time for sight-seeing, I did take a few minutes to stop along the road in Lybrook, New Mexico, where drillers were flaring off excess gases from the oil wells.
Even in the daylight, the scene along Highway 550 is pretty dramatic these days.
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management is considering a proposal to build a pipeline that would move oil to markets from northwestern New Mexico. The agency hosted a public meeting on the plan Thursday night in the town of Lybrook, south of Farmington.
As the natural gas boom has spread to the eastern United States, the term “fracking” has become common in news reports coming out of Pennsylvania and New York. But fracking has been a part of New Mexico’s history for decades.
After all, fracking is not a new technology. Halliburton pioneered hydraulic fracturing, as it’s officially known, in the 1940s. And it has been used around New Mexico for decades.