It’s Giving Tuesday Folks!

We’ve all heard of ‘Black Friday”, right? Well, today is the day where you declare your support for the local non-profits that you have determined are doing “good work” in your community. You send a little money every year to your local Volunteer Fire Department, right? It’s just something you know you should do. They are local, they are indispensable, and they are your neighbors volunteering their time to protect your home.

RACC is a “small but mighty”, local watershed protection non-profit and we could really use your help. Our all-volunteer 7 board members are from Cebolla, Abiquiu and El Rito and we are dedicated to the protection of the Rio Chama Watershed. We can stretch a buck mighty far but in order to effectively communicate with you about oil and gas issues in our newsletters and on our newly revamped website, and continue our mission to promote sustainable development in this watershed, we simply need your help.

You can donate to RACC via our website. Any amount is truly appreciated.

If you would like to sport one of our new bumper stickers that says, “No Fracking in the Rio Chama Watershed!” after you make a donation, simply contact us with your address through our website and we will mail you one.

Thank you for all you do to protect the Rio Chama Watershed!

10,000 protest letters filed with BLM

The BLM Farmington Field office is looking to be very busy for awhile as they are required to respond individually to the approximately 10,000 protest letters they received regarding the December 2018 Oil and Gas Lease Sale. One of the parcels in the lease sale borders our western watershed.

The previous lease sale generated over 400 protest letters, which at the time was deemed “unprecedented”, so it looks as if resistance to fracking in the Greater Chaco is approaching critical mass territory. The western boundary area of the Rio Chama Watershed is considered part of “Greater Chaco”. Many of these letters were hand delivered to the Santa Fe BLM office.

RACC facilitated your protests by holding two letter writing events in October and updating our new website (many thanks to Rebekah) to offer talking points and guidelines for writing an effective letter for this specific sale. We also generated letters from our excellently commandeered Facebook page (thank you Carolyn) and Peggy Baker, RACC board member and BLM liaison, drove to Santa Fe with your protest letters and hand delivered them to the BLM, standing in line with many tribal, community, and environmental organizations like the Sierra Club and Wild Earth Guardians.

All told, our watershed was represented, via RACC, by 60 of your letters, many of them containing important technical comments regarding the Environmental Analysis on the parcels in this oil and gas lease sale.

If there’s anyone out there who sent a protest letter but did not have the chance to let us know or send us a copy, please do. We are tracking protest letters to make sure BLM registers your concerns. You can send a copy to us via our website.

Thank you to all who took the time to speak up for our watershed and neighboring Greater Chaco. It is small, individual acts like these letters that add to the critical mass wave of objection to the misuse of our lands for oil and gas profiteering at the expense of clean water and our basic health. Keep standing up! With a newly elected Democratic governor and a new State Land Commissioner, we now have allies in high places and we’ll need to register our concerns with them and keep pushing for a green energy future for our watershed.

Here is a link to Sierra Club’s report about how the Greater Chaco community is rising up in a very impressive way to the onslaught of oil and gas leasing on our lands. Simply click the screen behind the donation box and you will arrive at the article.

What can you do next? Attend a protest against the December 2018 Lease Sale at the BLM State Headquarters (301 Dinosaur Trail, Santa Fe) on December 5th, 2018 from 12-2 PM.

Double-drilling approved for San Juan Basin

Speaking of an onslaught of oil and gas leasing….a proposal from an oil and gas company named Hilcorp to double the number of oil and gas wells in Rio Arriba and San Juan County was just approved by the New Mexico Oil Conservation Commission. Hilcorp, one of the country’s largest, privately held exploration and production companies in the U.S., requested approval to double the density of allowable wells. Approximately 8000 new wells and “recompletions” were approved in an area that is already home to more than 40,000 oil and gas wells.

You can read an article about Hilcorp’s business practices entitled, As Hilcorp Plans to Drill in Arctic Waters, a Troubling Trail of Violations Surfaces, here.

No analysis has been done on the environmental impacts of increasing well density to this degree. This would include impacts to Rio Arriba and San Juan county public heath as well as impacts regarding Climate Change. An approval of the request by Hilcorp circumvents the current public process required when an exemption to well density is requested.

The incoming State Land Commissioner, Stephanie Garcia Richard and Governor-elect Grisham, among others, requested a delay of this hearing but were denied and the San Juan Citizens Alliance, represented by The Western Environmental Law Center, filed motions to delay the case.

The public hearing on this issue was held in Santa Fe on November 19th and many of you who could not make it to this hearing filed public comments voicing your concerns. RACC’s Facebook page and our website, which always streams our Facebook posts, are good places to find current information about hearings like these. Any opportunity to speak up should be grabbed! It often only takes minutes and you can walk away knowing that in some small way you are contributing to the “critical mass” required to turn New Mexico from an out- of -control oil and gas play to a state that knows how to balance energy production and human health.

You can read Elizabeth Miller’s Santa Fe Reporter article about the hearing entitled, Power to the Private Companies, here.

Frack-water can be “renewed”? Really?

At a “produced water” conference in Santa Fe earlier this month, the oil and gas industry, along with water treatment advocates and economic development professionals, conferred on the idea of “opportunities to enhance fresh water conservation, produced water resource recovery, and produced water beneficial use” in New Mexico.

“Produced water” is industry-speak for the water accessed from New Mexico’s hydrologic cycle that is then injected into a fracking well and returned to the surface, post-fracking, full of the toxic chemicals that fracking requires. Our own US House of representatives reported that at least 650 of these chemicals contain known carcinogens. The industry refers to produced water as an “incidental byproduct” from drilling.

Water conservation seems to be the inspiration here. And no wonder, as every barrel of oil produced by the oil and gas industry makes five barrels of frack-contaminated, “produced” water. Down the line the interested parties envision potentially using this treated, frack -contaminated, “renewed” water for agriculture (but only if it proves to be “cost effective”). Commercial, residential and municipal use applications are also on the table.

Protesters gathered outside the conference. Many thanks to the folks who showed up and represented all of us who find this idea very disturbing.

The Draft White Paper from the State of New Mexico and the EPA was released November 9th, 2018 (you can read it here). This white paper is a product of the cooperative process outlined in a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that the State of New Mexico and the EPA entered into on July 16th, 2018. This is a state and federal effort “to clarify the existing regulatory and permitting frameworks related to the way produced water can be re-used, recycled and renewed” in New Mexico.

Theoretically, once draft permits are developed for agricultural and other use of produced water, the EPA will be required to hold public comment periods and hearings. Stay tuned! As Our Revolution New Mexico put it, “The Fracking Industry Wants to Use New Mexico As A Sacrifice Zone For Their Waste Water and They Want Us To Be Their Lab Rats.”

What can you do right now? You can send your comments on the Fracking Wastewater Proposal to the Energy, Mineral, and Nature Resource Dept. via email, to Take a minute and contribute to the “critical mass” wave of objections to this very bad idea.

Thank you for all you do to protect the Rio Chama Watershed!