MISSION: Southwest Research and Information Center is a multi-cultural organization working to promote the health of people and communities, protect natural resources, ensure citizen participation, and secure environmental and social justice now and for future generations

The Oil and Gas Accountability Project Opens Its Doors in New Mexico for New Mexicans!

Earlier this month, the Oil & Gas Accountability Project officially opened its doors in New Mexico for New Mexicans! The Oil & Gas Accountability Project, or OGAP, originated in 1999 in Durango, Colorado, and is dedicated to reducing and preventing the environmental, social and economic impacts caused by oil and gas development. OGAP is the only national organization that organizes networks of grassroots groups on these issues on the local, state, federal and tribal levels. OGAP's ultimate goals include lifting the exemptions that currently apply to oil and gas wastes and developing a surface owners bill of rights. As of this month, OGAP is now working directly with New Mexicans from its first field office in Taos, New Mexico.

After conducting an assessment of oil and gas issues in the state this fall, OGAP convened its first statewide network meeting on January 11th in Albuquerque. More than 25 citizens participated and agreed to work together through a New Mexico Oil & Gas Network to address public health, private land and public land issues associated with irresponsible oil and gas practices. These issues include:

  • Cleaning up non-compliant and dirty compressor stations and gas processing plants in New Mexico that emit dangerous pollutants and are out of compliance with our state air quality standards,
  • Ensuring that exploration and production pits associated with oil and gas development are properly lined to prevent surface and ground water pollution,
  • Assisting oil and gas-field communities in addressing the increasing problem of noise pollution from compressor stations located next to homes, schools, businesses and recreation areas,
  • Assisting surface owners to defend their property from irresponsible and negligent oil and gas development practices,
  • Ensuring that our public agencies manage our public land for multiple uses.

Representatives from the Southwest Research and Information Center, the New Mexico Cattlegrowers Association, the New Mexico Environmental Law Center, the Four Corner's Ozone Task Force, NM Citizens for Clean Air & Water, the San Juan Citizen's Alliance, Sierra Club and the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance were present. In addition, citizens and ranchers from the Tatum, Carlsbad, Raton, Aztec and Farmington areas who are engaged in disputes with oil and gas companies over surface access and surface damages joined the group to make this a truly diverse network with far-reaching representation from the corners of New Mexico.

In addition to working on state and local issues in New Mexico, OGAP is also working with groups in Washington, D.C. and across the country to affect national energy policy and create a national network of citizens committed to oil and gas policy reform. This year, New Mexico's U.S. Senators Pete Domenici and Jeff Bingaman play crucial roles in developing energy policy. Senator Domenici is the chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, with Senator Bingaman the ranking minority member. With both our Senators holding such powerful positions in Congress, OGAP is working with its allies to advocate for energy legislation that ends environmentally harmful energy subsidies, holds the industry accountable for clean-up costs and damages, protects our clean water, protects private property rights and prohibits oil and gas leasing on unique public lands.

If you'd like to learn more about the Oil & Gas Accountability Project or how to get involved with oil and gas issues, contact Jennifer Goldman in OGAP's New Mexico office at (505) 776-3276 or Gwen Lachelt in OGAP's Colorado office at (970) 259-3353. You may also visit OGAP's website at www.OGAP.org or send an email to dawn@ogap.org to receive OGAP's monthly electronic newsletter and regular action alerts!

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"The term "equity" was a government creation pushed onto the EJ movement by the Environmental Protection Agency. SWOP doesn't want "equal opportunity pollution." We want to reshape the whole table. We want a fundamental reordering of our priorities and commitments, and that starts with corporate and government accountability to the community. We want justice."
--ColorLines, Vol. 3, No. 2
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