Early Friday morning at 12:45 a.m., the Sandoval County Commission voted 4-1 to approve an updated proposed oil and gas ordinance that includes some new, additional amendments that were added during the 5-plus hour hearing.

The added amendments changed the original published ordinance, an ordinance that would have created a simple administrative process to approve “permissive use” permits for oil and gas companies to operate in all unincorporated land in Sandoval County.

However, with the amendments, oil and gas companies may be required to go through a more detailed public notice and/or hearing process in certain “densely-populated” zones in Sandoval County. IPANM has yet to review the exact locations of these zones. More specific information will be forthcoming when the new amended ordinance is finalized and published in December. A final vote for the amended ordinance will not occur until January 2018.

The contentious hearing included public comments from industry advocates who supported the original ordinance before the new amendments were added. Most industry advocates, including NMOGA, argued the original published ordinance represented the least burdensome option compared to more restrictive proposals that the county commission had considered previously. Of course, there were dozens of activists who made public comments for even more restrictive provisions in the ordinance on drilling in Sandoval County.

IPANM continues to take “no position” on the ordinance. IPANM strongly feels that any additional sort of county ordinance is not necessary due to the existing regulations in place that adequately protect safe water, human health and the environment.