Judge overturns Mora County’s anti-fracking ordinance

A federal judge has overturned a New Mexico county’s ban on oil and natural gas drilling that was the first of its kind when it was enacted nearly two years ago.

In a sprawling, nearly 200-page decision that touched on several constitutional elements, U.S. District Judge James O. Browning ruled that the ordinance clashes with federal law.

“Historically, a county cannot enact or supersede federal law,” Browning wrote. “The ordinance thus goes beyond Mora County’s historical lawmaking just to deprive a corporation of their rights.”

The ordinance, enacted in April 2013, cited environmental concerns and put the county’s decision-making rights ahead of business interests, and federal and state permits. It was believed at the time to have been the first time a county had banned hydraulic fracturing amid debates over the practice nationwide in communities that have experienced oil and gas booms.

….Mora County is far from the energy hotspots in southeastern and northwestern New Mexico, and there are no active oil or gas wells within the county. But county officials took the step out of fear that their scarce water supply could become further threatened by pollution from hydraulic fracturing, which extracts oil and gas from rock by injecting high-pressure mixtures of water, sand or gravel, and chemicals.

By Associated Press – Albuquerque Journal –

Fracking Banned in New York State citing Health Risks

The Cuomo administration announced Wednesday that it would ban hydraulic fracturing in New York State, ending years of uncertainty by concluding that the controversial method of extracting oil from deep underground could contaminate the state’s air and water and pose inestimable public-health risks.
“I cannot support high volume hydraulic fracturing in the great state of New York,” said Howard Zucker, the acting commissioner of health.
That conclusion was delivered publicly during a year-end cabinet meeting called by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in Albany. It came amid increased calls by environmentalists to ban fracking, which uses water and chemicals to release natural gas trapped in deeply buried shale deposits.
The state has had a de facto ban on the procedure for more than five years, predating Mr. Cuomo’s first term. The decision also came as oil and gas prices continued to fall in many places around the country, in part because of surging American oil production, as fracking boosted output.

By JESSE McKinley – New York Times –