First County in US Bans Oil and Gas Extraction
By Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund Published: Wednesday 1 May 2013
Monday the County Commission of Mora County, located in northeastern New Mexico, became the first county in the U.S. to pass an ordinance banning all oil and gas extraction.
Drafted with assistance from the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF), the Mora County Community Water Rights and Local Self-Government Ordinance establishes a local Bill of Rights—including a right to clean air and water, a right to a healthy environment and the rights of nature—while prohibiting activities which would interfere with those rights, including oil drilling and hydraulic fracturing for shale gas.
Communities across the country are facing drilling and fracking. Fracking brings significant environmental impacts including the production of millions of gallons of toxic wastewater, which can affect drinking water and waterways. Studies have found that fracking is a major global warming contributor, and have linked the underground disposal of frack wastewater to earthquakes.
“Existing state and federal oil and gas laws force fracking and other extraction activities into communities, overriding concerns of residents,” explained Thomas Linzey, Esq., CELDF executive director. “Today’s vote in Mora County is a clear rejection of this structure of law which elevates corporate rights over community rights, which protects industry over people and the natural environment.”
“This vote is a clear expression of the rights guaranteed in the New Mexico Constitution which declares that all governing authority is derived from the people. With this vote, Mora is joining a growing people’s movement for community and nature’s rights,” said Linzey.