NMELC, Current Cases.


New Mexico Oil and Gas Pit Rule Roll Back


Location: Statewide

Opposing Parties: New Mexico Oil Conservation Commission

Initiation Date: February 2009

Status: On-going

Clients/Partners: Oil and Gas Accountability Project (OGAP)

Attorneys: Eric Jantz, Bruce Frederick



Issues:

In June 2008, the Law Center successfully advocated for New Mexico to adopt the most stringent Oil Pit Rule in the U.S. (the Rule governs the storage and disposal of toxic oil and gas drilling by-products. See case details: See case details: New Mexico Oil and Gas Pit Regulation Change)  On February 18, 2009, Governor Richardson announced he was directing the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department to work with industry to develop amendments that would allegedly save companies the cost of compliance to the recently adopted Pit Rule. These proposed changes, if adopted, would substantially increase the risk of groundwater pollution.

The Law Center represents its client, the Oil and Gas Accountability Project, in an effort to defend the current Pit Rule.  We are particularly concerned about the State’s proposed rollback of the chloride standard from 3,000 micrograms/liter (mg/l) to 250 mg/l.  This proposal, which was made with industry input without participation from other stakeholders, would endanger groundwater quality by encouraging disposal of toxic oil field wastes in numerous uncontrolled locations.

At Stake:

The ability of the state executive branch to disregard public rule-making processes and cut backroom deals. The outcome of this case will also impact the purity of New Mexico’s groundwater resources in oil and gas producing regions.

Latest News:

03/23/2012 - NMELC files OGAP’s Response to NMOGA’s Petition for Superintending Control in NM Supreme Court.

02/14/2012 - The Writ of Prohibition was issued.

01/25/2012 - Judge Ortiz ordered a Writ of Prohibition granting the NMELC’s request that the Oil Conservation Commission be prohibited from reconsidering the Pit Rule until all the court appeals of the rule have been resolved.

01/10/2012 - Judge Vigil postponed appeals so that the OCC can ‘revisit’ the Pit Rule and consider the changes proposed by industry.

02/23/2011 - Because she had questions on two specific legal issues in the chlorides standard rollback appeal,District Court Judge Barbara J. Vigil ordered additional briefings on these issues from the parties.  Briefs are due April 30th.

12/10/2010 - Oral arguments were to be heard by District Court Judge Barbara J. Vigil, but she decided to postpone hearing arguments on the rollback of the chloride standard until February after she decides on the pit rule appeal from industry.

11/16/2009 - Law Center files OGAP’s Reply to OCC Response

10/30/2009 - Law Center files OGAP’s Motion for Stay.

10/01/2009 - Law Center files OGAP’s Statement of Appellate Issues.

07/30/2009 - Law Center files OGAP’s Notice of Appeal to the First Judicial District Court.

06/19/2009 - State commission approves pit rule change, Drilling Santa Fe Blog.

04/28/2009 - Law Center files OGAP’s Proposed Conclusions of Law and Findings of Fact to the Oil Conservation Commission

03/31/2009 - Press Release: New Mexico’s Land and Water Face Challenge from the Oil and Gas Industry

02/18/2009 - Press Release: Governor Bill Richardson Proposes Modifications to New Mexico’s Oil Field Pit Rule

Case Files:

03/23/2012 - OGAP’s Response to NMOGA’s Petition for Superintending Control and Appendix

02/14/2012 - Issued Writ of Prohibition.

01/25/2012 - Judge Ortiz ordered a Writ of Prohibition.

11/16/2009 - OGAP’s Reply to OCC Response

10/30/2009 - OGAP’s Motion for Stay.

10/01/2009 - OGAP’s Statement of Appellate Issues.

07/30/2009 - OGAPs Notice of Appeal

04/28/2009 - OGAPs Proposed Conclusions of Law and Findings of Fact