Pit Rule Re-Write Hearing Starts Up… Again

The final round of the Pit Rule re-write hearing begins on August 28th in Santa Fe. The NMELC will be presenting evidence to the Oil Conservation Commission showing the obvious need for regulations on oil and gas drilling waste pits, and the exaggerated cost of compliance.

The hearing began in May of this year, brought before the Commission by industry groups who call the Pit Rule overly burdensome to oil and gas drilling companies. There was not sufficient time to hear all testimony from all parties, so the hearing was resumed on June 19th and is scheduled to wrap up beginning on August 28th. Learn more about the Pit Rule Re-Write case.

A Message from Gwen Lachelt, Founder & Director of Earthworks’ Oil & Gas Accountability Project

Support the Pit Rule!

Don’t let Governor Martinez and the oil and gas industry gut New Mexico’s common sense Pit Rule! Call the Governor and urge her to keep the Pit Rule: 505-426-2200. Visit Earthworks Pit Rule Page.

New Mexico Pit Rule Hearing resumes next week:

Tuesday, August 28, 2012
9:00 am
1220 South Saint Francis Drive – Wendell Chino Building in Porter Hall
Santa Fe, New Mexico

OGAP’s expert witness, Kathy Martin, Professional Engineer, will provide rebuttal testimony challenging industry’s assertion that repealing critical protections in the Pit Rule won’t harm New Mexico’s water and public health. Ms. Martin is a qualified expert in environmental engineering with specific expertise in surface impoundments, waste storage facilities, groundwater pollution control and contaminant transport and fate.

If you are able, please attend the hearing. This may be the final hearing before the Oil Conservation Commission meets September 24 to make its final decision on whether to keep the Pit Rule.


New Mexico’s Pit Rule is considered the nation’s strongest standard protecting water, soil and public health from drilling and fracking wastes.

The Rule was developed with extensive input from oil and gas industry representatives, ranchers and conservation organizations in 2007 to protect New Mexico’s water, soil and public health from toxic drilling and fracking wastes.

Governor Martinez vowed to repeal the Pit Rule during her campaign and now the New Mexico Oil & Gas Association thinks it has the votes on the Oil Conservation Commission to do the deal.


Today the Pit Rule requires that companies use pit-less (closed-loop) drilling systems where groundwater is at 50 feet and to locate pits 1,000 feet from schools and homes, etc. Companies can get permission to bury their wastes on site if the chloride content is 3,000 milligrams per liter. But industry wants to be able to leave wastes that have a chloride content of 15,000 mg/l. The chloride content of seawater is around 19,000 mg/l. Wastes with such high salt levels have left untold number of pit sites across New Mexico barren. Chlorides are commonly measured because they are an indication of the presence of other pollutants found in drilling and fracking wastes.

Closed-loop drilling systems are saving companies money. Many companies are saving money by using closed-loop drilling rather than using a pit to dispose of drill cuttings and fracking wastes. And when pits fail, they cost companies a lot of money to try to clean up contaminated soil and groundwater.


The shale oil and gas drilling boom is marching to New Mexico. These are deep wells utilizing horizontal hydraulic fracturing and enormous amounts of water and chemicals. To service these wells, companies want a free ticket to develop enormous pits – lakes really. And the industry does not want to have to build these lakes to any standards or specifications. The pits might hold 10-acre feet of water or 20-acre feet or more. And they may be around for years. The odors from these gigantic pits have driven many people from their homes in other states. And there’s nothing to prevent livestock and wildlife from drinking from these pits and birds from landing on them because they can be too large to cover with protective netting.

With the shale boom coming to the Land of Enchantment, now is not the time to allow the oil and gas industry to cut corners.

Call Governor Martinez and urge her to keep the Pit Rule. Her number is 505-426-2200.

Or write to the Governor:

Attend the Pit Rule hearing August 28 and testify.
You’ll have 5 minutes to talk but you can submit more extensive written comments (if you wish) in person. The hearing location is at 1220 South Saint Francis Drive in Porter Hall of the Wendell Chino Building. Public testimony is typically taken just before the lunch break and before the hearing adjourns for the day.

Posted on 08/27/2012 • PermalinkBack to top

Return to Previous Page