The fast and furious pace of regulation hearings, combined with a slew of legislative bills and amendments, appears to have blindsided New Mexico Oil and Gas Association (NMOGA) members and left them trying to figure out a way forward. NMOGA stated in an email, “The legislature has been fast-tracking bills that put oil and gas jobs and billions of dollars in state revenues in jeopardy, severely limiting funding for our schools, roads, first responders and healthcare.” With leases stockpiled, pre-Biden administration NMOGA members won’t run out of land to drill or frack for many years—even with the federal leasing moratorium. However, they are running out of water for fracking and are facing massive regulations on the toxic produced water that their industry creates.
The State Land Office halted commercial sale of fresh water for oil and gas in December 2020. Commissioner of Public Lands Stephanie Garcia Richard stated the policy change was needed “to help protect and preserve New Mexico’s scarce and sacred freshwater resources. Water is life, and wider intervention is needed from the State Legislature to address New Mexico’s water issues in critical areas. There is simply no reason for fresh water to be used for fracking.”