RIO RANCHO–The Sandoval County Board of Commissioners on Thursday evening postponed a request for a motion to adopt the ordinance and consequently angered about 100 citizens who arrived to protest future oil drilling in Sandoval County.
District 3 Commissioner Don G. Chapman, a supporter of the ordinance, appeared frustrated as citizens voiced their concerns during the “Comments from the Public” portion of the meeting. Though he suggested those who wanted to speak about the ordinance to leave, many stayed and used their time to comment on gas and oil drilling.
Interrupting one demonstration of loud fracking volumes, Chapman said, “I find this demonstration to be totally unscientific, but I’m going to allow it.”
Citizens were allowed only 60 seconds to make a comment to the Board of Commissioners. Several people complained that the time was not enough, calling the short time “undemocratic” and “unconstitutional.”
Elaine Cimino of Common Ground Community Trust said of Chapman, “He was paid a lot by the oil and gas industry, and this is part of the path that (Governor) Susanna Martinez took. All of that now is coming to fruition…this is Governor Martinez’s agenda.”
Ward McCartney, an attendee at the meeting, also believes that big oil companies are the reason why Sandoval County wants to approve the ordinance. “We’re one of only three states in the nation that doesn’t have a wind turbine factory. Doesn’t that (wind turbine factory) create jobs? There’s more jobs today in wind and solar than there are gas, coal, and oil combined.”
Cimino, the organizer of the protest, expected more protestors, but the pueblo residents were told that the ordinance proposal was tabled until November 16. Karilyn Haozous of Albuquerque American Indian Movement (AIM) said that tribes were not directly consulted about the gas and oil ordinance. Further, their concerns were not addressed by county officials either.
“The tribe never got answers to the questions that they asked. It stands to reason that you should talk with the pueblo tribes. Our individual tribal members contacted their tribal leaders, but there’s been no direct or formal tribal consultation…They need to meet directly with the tribes,” Haozous said.
Twelve Native American reservations are within Sandoval County boundaries, making it the county with the second-highest number of reservations in the United States. Albuquerque AIM members want to be more involved in order to prevent fracking from damaging quality of life on these reservations.
Haozous said, “I see this relating the Dakota Access Pipeline. The tribes weren’t involved in the beginning. Now, we’re trying to come here at the beginning to work with them. But after each meeting, people are getting more and more frustrated because they’re not listened to.”Like this story? Sign up for our daily newsletter to get more of our best original news.