Lines are drawn in a classic northern New Mexico land-use battle as Rio Arriba County Commissioners move to impose a six-month moratorium on new oil and gas drilling. Meanwhile, the Texas company poised to drill in the Tierra Amarilla region of the county is pleading ignorance of the county's environmental concerns.
Rio Arriba County is rooted deeply in land-use issues. It was in Tierra Amarilla that a group of Spanish land grant protesters seized control of the county courthouse June 3, 1967, to focus attention on land-use matters.
If county commissioners follow through with plans to slap a six-month countywide moratorium on oil and gas drilling later this month, oil and natural gas workers in San Juan County stand to take a significant hit, local industry officials claim.
That's because although both counties produce natural gas in the northwest part of New Mexico, only San Juan County is home to the workers whose jobs are in the San Juan Basin's oil and gas patch.