New Mexico official discourages drilling at Otero Mesa

December 20, 2018

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico’s departing state land commissioner is warning against oil and natural gas drilling activities in a desert grasslands area where environmentalists have sought protections for decades.

State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn on Thursday urged the state to ensure that fresh water supplies and wildlife in the Otero Mesa area are safeguarded from contamination by the oil and natural gas industries.

In a stark warning, Dunn invoked difficulties in monitoring booming oilfield activities in southeastern New Mexico. He says any drilling activity at Otero Mesa should be discouraged until better infrastructure and more regulators are in place to prevent environmental damage.

Dunn will be succeeded as land commissioner on Jan. 1 by Democratic state Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard of Los Alamos. Garcia Richard could not immediately be reached for comment.

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