by Marita Noon
In a little “frontier” community in northern New Mexico, a national property rights battle is playing out with huge national implications and almost no one knows it is taking place. The outcome of two lawsuits that are pending against Mora County and its Community Water Rights and Local Self-Government Ordinance have the potential to impact an individual’s ability to use and profit from his or her own land—not just in New Mexico, but from coast-to-coast.
One year ago, on April 29, 2013, in a 2-1 vote, Mora County Commissioners made headlines by making the little county the first in the country to ban oil-and-gas exploration and production outright. Several communities have passed moratoriums or bans on hydraulic fracturing. Others, such as nearby Santa Fe County, have enacted rules and regulations that are so restrictive on drilling practices that they essentially do ban oil-and-gas drilling. But none have gone so far as to totally outlaw all development of hydrocarbons.
Mora County is proud to be taking a stand and believes that it has done an important thing. The commissioners think they have the rights locally. They don’t care what the federal or state constitutions say. They’ve passed this ordinance anyway. It’s one thing to say you can’t drill in this county. It’s something else again to say, “You know those constitutional rights you thought you had? Well, they don’t apply in this county.”
Marino Rivera’s family has been in Mora County for generations. He supports the drilling ban, but, according to the Santa Fe New Mexican (SFNM), he knew the county would get sued. “The ban is unconstitutional. I think we all knew that going in.” He felt that it was worth the fight just to “make a statement.” County Commissioner John Olivas, Chairman of the Board of Commissioners—who is on staff at the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance as a “traditional community organizer” and is also listed as the “northern director”, believes “the ordinance is defensible” and claims the little county is “ready for the fight.” He asks: “Why is it wrong for citizens of Mora Country to say no to corporations?”
In a recent statement about the lawsuits, Olivas said: “Rather than the end of the fight, however, we see these lawsuits as merely a beginning—of a waking up that must occur across our communities and the country to understand that we are caught within a system that virtually guarantees our destruction.” He sees the effort as part of a movement that is bigger than an oil-and-gas ban in an area that doesn’t have any current drilling activity. He wants to “not only call out corporate decision makers for what they do—but begin to dismantle what they’ve spent so many years building.”
Olivas concludes his statement with a call to join the resistance movement, citing 150 communities that “have now begun to walk the path the people of Mora are walking.” He told New Mexico Watchdog: “I think it can lead to a domino effect.”
The Community Water Rights and Local Self-Government Ordinance
Mora County’s ordinance was drafted with the assistance of the Pennsylvania-based Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF)—which calls itself a “public-interest law firm.” About its work, the website states: “CELDF has assisted more than 150 communities across the country to establish Community Rights ordinances that today are protecting communities from a range of harmful practices, from shale gas drilling and fracking to the land application of sewage sludge.”
In a press release about Mora County’s vote, CELDF Executive Director Thomas Linzey, Esq., claims: “Mora is joining a growing people’s movement for community and nature’s rights.”
The ordinance states: “It shall be unlawful for any corporation to engage in the extraction of oil, natural gas, or other hydrocarbons within Mora County.” In June 2013, the commission voted to expand the ban to individuals as well. Additionally, under the ordinance, any permits or licenses issued by either the federal or state government that would allow activities that would compromise the county’s rights would be considered invalid.
Commissioner Paula Garcia, was the one “no” vote a year ago. Like her two colleagues, she opposes oil-and-gas drilling in Mora County, but she voted against the ordinance because, as she told the E&E (Environment and Energy) reporter: “the ordinance is so ambitious and experimental that it leaves the county vulnerable to a legal challenge by industry and then the county will have to go back to square one if it loses in court.” Garcia told the Albuquerque Journal: “It’s very experimental in that it has a lot of provisions in there that haven’t been tested. Most of the attorneys I’ve talked to said this is not likely to hold up in court.”
Karin Foster, executive director for the Independent Petroleum Association of New Mexico (IPANM), who was working with the group to file the first of the two lawsuits, doesn’t see how the ordinance could stand up to legal challenges. “I don’t know if attorneys actually wrote it; it’s extremely unconstitutional,” she said. “The person who wrote it doesn’t understand constitutional law, doesn’t understand New Mexico law and doesn’t understand the importance of state trust land to New Mexico and education.”
The ordinance tests U.S. Supreme Court decisions dating back to the 1800s that recognize corporations as having many of the same rights as citizens and challenges state and federal powers. IPANM President Richard Gilliland, in a press release, said: “What the Mora County Commission has done with the ordinance is an insult to the U.S. Constitution and every free citizen.”
Two lawsuits have been filed against Mora County’s Community Water Rights and Local Self-Government Ordinance.
The first lawsuit, filed on November 15, 2013, asserts that the county lacks authority over oil-and gas-activities, and that the state, under the 1978 New Mexico Oil and Gas Act, has the sole authority to regulate drilling.
Specifically, the plaintiffs, led by IPANM, argue that the ban violates their rights under the First, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments. The claim under the Fourteenth Amendment says that the ordinance violates the plaintiffs’ fundamental property rights. The landowner plaintiffs all own mineral rights that are believed to contain fossil fuels. If it were not for the ordinance, the plaintiffs would seek to lease their hydrocarbon for extraction. The Fifth Amendment claim says it is an abuse of government authority to infringe on people’s interest in real property. Mora’s ordinance violates the portion of the First Amendment called the overbreadth doctrine, which allows plaintiffs to challenge laws that they believe deter constitutionally protected expression.
One of the landowners in the suit is Mary Vermillion. As an attorney herself, she says: “My feeling is regardless of where you stand on the oil-and-gas issue, the idea that a County Commission has the right to nullify constitutional rights is insane. And that’s what this ordinance proposes to do.”
The plaintiffs are being represented by the Mountain States Legal Foundation—which, on March 10, won a landslide (8-1), property rights case before the Supreme Court: Marvin M. Brandt Revocable Trust v. United States.
William Perry Pendley, President and Chief Operating officer at the Mountain States Legal Foundation, believes this is an important fight. He says:
The lawlessness we have seen emanating from Washington, DC, has spread like a wildfire across the country. When elected politicians, senior administration officials, and career bureaucrats proudly proclaim that the Constitution is irrelevant and the law is whatever they say it is, it is little wonder that officials across the country follow their bad example. From coast-to-coast, isolated units of local government have declared that, regardless of what the federal and state constitutions or federal and state laws provide, they will bar their residents from using their property, creating jobs, and generating revenue and if the locals do not like it, then they can sue. I am proud that landowners in Mora County and the Independent Petroleum Association of New Mexico have the courage to demand adherence to constitutional liberties and the rule of law and have asked Mountain States Legal Foundation to represent them in that important battle.
The second lawsuit was filed on January 10, 2014 by Shell Western E&P Inc. (SWEPI), a subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell PLC. In 2010, SWEPI leased 144,000 acres with the intention of exploring for oil and natural gas—there has been no recorded oil-and-gas production in Mora County during the past 20 years but geologists believe there is natural gas potential. The Shell lawsuit says Mora County’s ordinance violates the Constitution’s equal protection and commerce clauses, and conflicts with U.S. Supreme Court rulings that gave legal rights to corporations, and violates other state and federal laws.
Because the ordinance divests the company of its property interests by preventing it from pursuing oil-and-gas drilling on private and state trust lands it leased in the county, the suit claims the ordinance amounts to the “taking of property without compensation.” SWEPI is asking the court to not only overturn the ordinance, but to award the company damages.
Shell’s leases are mostly in the grassy plains of eastern Mora County rather than in the mountain valleys or tree-lined hills.
Claiming the ordinance robs them of their planned retirement funds and their children’s inheritance, private property owners from whom Shell leased the mineral rights, are pleased that Shell decided to file a lawsuit in addition the one filed by IPANM.
Under the leadership of former State Land Commissioner Pat Lyons, the New Mexico State Land Office leased many tracts for potential drilling in Mora County. He called Mora’s drilling ban a “private property takings.” Lyons believes New Mexico’s Land Commissioner, Ray Powell, “should be taking a strong stand for New Mexico’s children. He should be one of the lead participants in the fight for New Mexico.”
Originally emboldened by talk that little Mora County was going to lead the nation in a “community rights” movement, in the face of lawsuits, many locals feel that they’ve been used. Meetings that used to attract more than 100, now have the same 30 people over and over.
One resident said: “People want to support a cause until they realize it is expensive.” Another: “Outsiders are trying to bring California to Mora.” Still another: “The county is out of control. It is broke.”
The SFNM reports: Many Mora County residents “believe the ban was an ill-advised move that will have high costs for an already cash-strapped county government and it will gain it nothing except attention. Others say the ordinance is an example of an outside Anglo group using a poor, minority county for its own ends.”
Defending the ordinance, Olivas told the Los Angeles Times (LAT) that the “remarkably untouched” environment “provides a sustainable living for most people.” He wants the oil-and-gas folks to “leave us alone. Let us enjoy what we have.”
Just what does Mora County have?
Olivas told the LAT: “We are one of the poorest counties in the nation, yes, we are money-poor, we are not asset-poor. We’ve got land, we’ve got agriculture, we’ve got our heritage and we’ve got our culture.” In the same LAT piece, 63-year-old Roger Alcon said: “We’ve lived off the land for five generations. …We have what we need. We’ve been very happy, living in peace.” Alcon’s comments close out the article: “We have what we need. To me, the fresh air and the land, and water. It’s better than money.”
Not everyone agrees.
The New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions reported that Mora County had the second-highest unemployment rate in the state in March, at 14.4%; only Luna County was higher at 20.5%. None of the rest of the state’s 33 counties had unemployment rates in double digits. The SFNM adds: “Jobs are hard to come by. The primary employment is local government, the schools, the Mora Valley Health Services and the rural electric cooperative. The county budget is under $1 million.”
Mora County resident Audrey Keller hoped oil-and-gas development could provide jobs—including one for her husband, a construction worker who has had to rely on work in other parts of the state. She is a certified nurse’s aide who currently works as a waitress because of the lack of local jobs in her field. She said: “I kind of feel like a few people took the power out of our hands. It just doesn’t seem like a democracy here at all. I think we should have had a discussion of what the good things could be.”
Frank Trambley—whose family has lived in Mora County for six generations—believes the ordinance puts the county at a “sincere disadvantage compared to other parts of the state.” He says: “This decision appears to have been made with a total lack of knowledge in the process of oil-and-gas extraction. When looking at the facts, we must ask if these commissioners have ever been to the areas where the oil-and-gas industry flourishes. Those in oil producing areas, no doubt, can speak to the benefits of the industry; however, extreme progressives apparently believe that there is no clean air or clean water in these areas. It is truly maddening to see such sweeping bans being made without accurate knowledge.”
Trambley adds: “When the ordinance supporters claim oil-and-gas development will take away our culture, I think it’s crazy! Nothing can destroy the rich culture and history that we are all proud of and that we hold in our hearts. The fact is this is about our constitutionally protected rights.”
Addressing the water issues, Trambley says: “I am also involved in many local water boards and acequias so I am also concerned about the water. But people must look at the facts, not just scare tactics and emotion, to make their decision. Nearby, at Vermejo Park, there are more than 500 natural gas wells and not one record of contamination. The elk and other wildlife happily coexist with the wells.”
Sofia Martinez is the president of the 13-year-old Concerned Citizens of Wagon Mound and Mora County. She told the SFNM: “I personally attend most of the Mora County Commission meetings, and many of us are appalled at the non-transparency, unethical practices that have become common practice since January.” She added: “Our communities are tired of being used.” Martinez believes her group is now being used by CELDF—to Mora County’s detriment. She says: “CELDF is clear they want this to be challenged all the way to the high court. That’s fine. Just don’t use us to do it.”
Samuel Valdez was born and raised in Mora County. He is a veteran who fought to defend the constitution and came home to Mora County. He is concerned for the younger generation, as the county needs economic development. He views the ordinance as a takings of property rights. He says: “they are taking corporations’ rights now, next they’ll come and take mine.”
Valdez believes: “Mora County could best spend its energy in ensuring that current New Mexico state oil-and-gas development regulations are strengthened and adhered to. Baseline testing needs to be required, and sufficient escrow/bond accounts should be mandatory so that corporations are held accountable should the environment or water quality be compromised.”
Joseph Hempfling, who helped write the Santa Fe Oil-and-Gas Ordinance, says: “Mora County has allowed itself to be used by anti-private property advocates and may pay a dear price.”
Even Garcia, who didn’t vote for the ban, but supports the premise, says she is not comfortable with CELDF using the county as its “soapbox.” She told the SFNM: “The reason I didn’t support the ordinance in April is that I wasn’t sure the majority of people knew the county was going to be used as a test case—not on an oil and gas fracking ban, but on the question of corporate personhood. I’m not in favor of fracking, but the language of the ordinance gave me pause.”
CELDF’s Linzey calls the situation: “The fight that people have been too chicken to fight over the past 10 years, which is essentially deciding who makes the decisions about the future of the places where people live.” An E&E report on Mora County declares: “Ultimately CELDF is hoping that Mora’s ordinance, one of 34 other local oil and gas ordinances it helped put on the books, will be challenged in court. It wants to test its legal argument that community rights should trump corporate rights.”
Linzey and his on-the-ground operative Kathleen Dudley (who is working to get a similar ordinance passed in other New Mexico towns and communities), have convinced the commissioners and some of the people of Mora County that that they are taking the moral high ground. When, in fact, they are the only community foolish enough to make themselves susceptible to being the guinea pigs for Linzey’s radical ideas.
Jacobo Pacheco, a ban supporter, set up a petition on Change.org—which the New York Times called: “the go-to site for Web uprisings”—that by signing, sends a note to the commissioners asking them to “defend the anti fracking ordinance which is presently the subject of litigation in federal court in N M.” The site’s alarming verbiage includes:
We are in dire need of help in combatting the forces of huge multinational corporations bent on ruining our air, water, and pristine lands. … People please be aware that we are but a lowly amoeba struggling against the proverbial, behemoth Goliath. We, however, have righteousness, honesty, and truth as our allies, and we must for posterity’s sake persist in this effort to oppose the corporations and their insidious, machiavellian efforts to destroy our land and our way of life. PLEASE help us by signing this petition and by donating to the Mora County Defense Fund.
(Note: While Pacheco calls the ordnance “anti fracking,” that is inaccurate. The ordinance bans all drilling, which includes exploration.)
At the time of this writing, the “Web naming-and-shaming” petition has nearly 1600 signatures of the 250,000 “needed.” Virtually none of them are from New Mexico, let alone Mora County.
Originally, CELDF had agreed to provide pro bono legal counsel to Mora County in case there were legal challenges—though the county would have to pay for associated travel and court filing fees estimated to be at $100,000. A county fund has been set up to cover the additional costs and so far $1100+ has been raised.
When Shell filed its suit, CELDF originally agreed to defend Mora County in that suit as well. However, the minutes from the February 14 Commission meeting state: “The Commission chose to rescind the retention of Thomas Lindsey [sic], CELDF; Erick Jantz, NMELC; and Daniel Brannen from the SWEPI v. Mora County and retain Long, Komer & Associates, P.A., as new legal counsel in this case. . . .” While the minutes say the Commission made the choice, the word on the street is that CELDF backed out.
At a recent townhall meeting where Linzey was on speakerphone and citizens were invited to ask questions, local resident John Romero was present. He asked, “When there’s a judgment—which I understand will come from the Tenth Circuit Court where all the judges were appointed by an oil man—whether it is a penny or $20 million, are you prepared to pay that?” Romero reported that Linzey shouted: “No!” Romero turned to his neighbors and simply stated: “There you have it.”
Linzey’s refusal to pay any judgment—and his perceived backtracking on defending the little county in the lawsuit for which he set them up—is not surprising, though, considering CELDF’s deep pockets it is disappointing. According to its 2012 990, CELDF’s annual budget is nearly the size of all of Mora County’s. Its website says that CELDF was started in 1995 by Linzey, Executive Director, and Stacey Schmader, Administrative Director, and in 1998, “began to assist communities to draft legally binding laws in which they asserted their right to self-govern.” Then, “To accommodate the growing interest in our work, with calls coming in from across the country, we launched the Daniel Pennock Democracy Schools in 2003, which have become a critical tool in our grassroots organizing.”
CELDF’s funding is very difficult to track. Its eastern locale suggested several probable suspects. The 990s of the Heinz Endowments revealed that around the time CELDF got involved in drafting legally binding laws, $162,000 of funding came in from them (yes, the same Heinz as Secretary Kerry’s wife). In later years, the Park Foundation—which was also a major donor to the movie Gasland and Environment America’s “Fracking by the Numbers” report—contributed $135,000. As its website confirmed, the Norman Foundation had donated to the Oil and Gas Accountably Project and the Powder River Basin Resource Council. They, were, in fact also a CELDF contributor to the tune of $159,000.
A Community Divided
Mora Country represents the debate being played out across the country—though people there report that Kathleen Dudley has exacerbated the situation by bringing in CELDF and pushing the experimental ordinance.
Pacheco, as previously mentioned, supports the ban—although ironically, as the owner of Pacheco Oil & Gas Inc., he earns his living selling hydrocarbons. He is also, through the Mora Land Grant, moving to intervene the SWEPI lawsuit.
On March 14, he ran an ad in the local newspaper that contained much of the same language as the online petition he created on Change.org.
In the ad, Pacheco added:
People please don’t be deceived into believing the tall tales of the corporations. They allege that their fracking activities will bring an economic boom to our area. However, even the nomenclature “fracking” is a lie. What “fracking” entails is the FRACTURING and SHATTERING of the earth in order to extract hydrocarbons and perhaps minerals as well, from within the earth. “Fracking” indeed is a Freudian slip on their part in an effort to minimize, soften, and down play the destructive and irreparable harm-inducing but not limited to earthquakes—which the process causes. Assuming that the fracturing would bring some economic stimulus, what the corporations deliberately fail to discuss are the ramifications attendant with an influx of activity brought about by their presence. They conveniently do not mention the damage that will be done to our roads, bridges, and lands—to say nothing about the increase in traffic, and crime such as drugs, prostitution, and the systematic decline in the moral fiber of a community, which is a contaminant and integral part of such activities. … Of course, they will also assert that it will not cause damage to the water, air, or environment, But if you’ll buy that, I’ve got some oceanfront…
Pacheco closes with:
People of the planet, the time is NOW to stand up for what you believe in and what you know is right!
A few days later the paper published a letter from Vermillion—who is a plaintiff in the first lawsuit:
The ad run in the March 14 Optic, written by Jacobo and Valerie Pacheco, sets a tone that is very appealing but which at root is really sort of a fairy tale—the kind that ends with “and they lived happily ever after.”
Setting aside the fact that the Pachecos make their living by the selling and transporting of hydrocarbons (propane), the appeal for protection of “our magnificent and pristine lands” and “our very way of life” disregards a number of inconvenient facts.
It’s indisputable that Mora County contains some of New Mexico’s most beautiful geography. It’s also indisputable that use of the word “pristine” to describe the county is inaccurate. My dictionary defines “pristine” as “having its original purity; uncorrupted or unsullied,” which is generally not a definition that is accurately applied to any place where people reside.
The traditional way of life in Mora County included the residents’ use of arroyos as dumps. You don’t have to look very far to find arroyos choked with old and not-so-old refuse. Litter along the roads is common. Derelict buildings and vehicles are common. Within living memory, people who had ready access to creeks ran sewage lines from their houses to the creeks. Those without access to creeks used the earth as their sewage treatment plant and many still do, either with pit toilets or some kind of septic system, potentially leaching into the ground water. “Defiled” is a more accurate term than is “pristine.”
Traditionally, county residents were not very mobile. Today, almost everyone has vehicles, powered by hydrocarbons. Indeed, it would be difficult to live in this rural area without that means of transportation. Shouldn’t our county government be banning the use of hydrocarbons in the county if we are serious about the dangers posed by the drilling for and use of such products and the trampling of our rights by “giant multinational corporations bent on contaminating our water and air . . .?”
All of this is not to say that there are no concerns involved in the issue of oil and gas development, but to suggest, as the Pachecos do, that the way to confront this issue is by the nullification of constitutional rights is misguided. The connection between people and their land in this county is very strong. The protection of our property ownership rights is established and maintained by the constitutions of the United States and the State of New Mexico. When two members of our Board of County Commissioners decided they had the power to decide whose rights have such protection, they put everyone’s rights in jeopardy. To pretend otherwise is to indulge in fairy tale thinking.
Sadly, the approach adopted by Mora County, through the efforts of two of its county commissioners, seems to have as its basis the doctrine of NIMBY—not in my backyard. We want to continue to have the use of our vehicles and the gasoline or diesel to power them; to have access to the propane we use to heat our homes and power our kitchen ranges; to have access to the electricity that gives us light and heat and access to the outside world. To insist that these conveniences come to us by the defilement of areas other than our own is a fine hypocrisy. And if you really want to hear screams, have someone propose to install a major wind turbine farm in the Mora Valley. Renewable energy? NIMBY!
Please, can’t we approach the oil/gas development issue from a rational standpoint? Check out Vermejo Park to see what’s possible in the way of energy production that co-exists with a “pristine” environment.
Vermillion’s letter echoes some of the themes that have been discussed in the state legislature. Bills have been introduced that would cut the capital allocations that come from oil-and-gas development to counties that ban extraction. In the case of Mora County, it receives approximately $4.5 million annually for its schools, $1.4 of that comes directly from the oil-and-gas industry. In 2013, Mora Country received $2,145,310 for capital outlay projects. $2,038,000 of that was contributed by the oil-and-gas industry.
Mark Van Dyke, Chief of Staff, for Lieutenant Governor John Sanchez, reports that there is not much chance such a bill will ever pass, but was more optimistic about a different bill that would give the communities that are producing 31 percent of the state’s budget more funding to cover, for example, the additional wear and tear on their roads—after all, as Pacheco references, they are helping the state, while incurring damage done to roads, bridges, and lands.
Mora County doesn’t have any drilling activity and many question whether—even without the ban—it ever will. There are more than 120 leases on state lands that will all expire in months, if no drilling occurs. Wells must be commercially productive to maintain the lease. If any proposed drilling were not successful, the problem in Mora County would just go away. But, since not even one exploration well is allowed, no one knows for sure.
There are not currently any leases on federal land—though the Bureau of Land Management says they are not bound by local ordinances and would consider leasing federal land for development if there were an interest.
The leases in Mora County are in what is called “frontier areas”—meaning no proven resource has been developed but that it is believed to be there. The risk of drilling in these areas is much higher and the potential reward lower. With natural gas prices as low as they’ve been, some question how imminent any activity would be, but believe there is a good possibility that there could be development and the economic boost it could provide if the regulations are rational.
When there is no current drilling in Mora County, why all the fuss? Because, it is part of a national plan. La Jicarita—which calls itself “an online magazine of environmental politics in New Mexico”—states: “CELDF works in a national arena and sees itself as taking the high road, a radical approach to social change that asserts the ‘rights’ of communities and ecosystems and works towards ‘federal constitutional change.’”
In November seven fracking bans were on ballots—three in Ohio and four in Colorado. Several were in locales with no oil-and-gas potential development. As Pendley indicated, all of these fracking and drilling bans and/or moratoriums are part of an attempted national movement. The “symbolic” votes in communities with no oil-and-gas development are part of a strategy to target left-leaning constituencies where ordinances can be passed and momentum can be built.
On February 28, 2014, the Los Angeles City Council passed (10-0) a largely symbolic ban on hydraulic fracturing within city limits. Officials from the South Coast Air Quality Management District, the agency that oversees oil drilling in Southern California, said there have been no recent reports of fracking within Los Angeles’ city limits. There are 1800 oil and gas wells in the city of Los Angeles, only about 10 percent are active. The Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce is concerned about the possibility of people losing their jobs in the oil industry due to the decision.
Citizen groups, like those in Mora County, have popped up in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara, CA. They are preparing their own community rights ballot measures aimed at outlawing hydraulic fracturing. The CELDF website brags of involvement in these efforts. The Global Exchange—which calls itself “an international human rights organization dedicated to promoting social, economic and environmental justice around the world”—has the following on its website: “in Santa Barbara, following a Democracy School and a crowded public event, residents have decided to work with Global Exchange to explore what a rights-based ordinance could mean for their community.” The CELDF Democracy School is what launched the battle in Mora County.
Sandra Postel, director of the Global Water Policy Project and Freshwater Fellow of the National Geographic Society, posted the following: “But Mora County’s decision—to keep more climate change-altering fossil fuels in the ground so as to preserve and safeguard local water supplies for its people—draws a more precautionary line in the sand. It’s a line other counties may want to draw, too—because without adequate supplies of safe drinking water, no region’s future is bright.”
The left, understanding the potential national implications, is paying attention to what happens in Mora County. A piece posted on ThinkProgress.com’s ClimateProgress site, states: “the amount of resources now unavailable to the oil and gas industry does not matter as much as the precedent the ordinance sets for other counties, cities, and even states that want to put an end to fossil fuel extraction. … If the IPA’s lawsuit against Mora succeeds, there will be a strong basis for future challenges to any other similar law or ordinance. However, if Mora’s ordinance holds up in court, it will become that much harder for the oil and gas industry to challenge future bans on fossil fuel extraction that may crop up in other places.”
The Mora County story, isn’t just about Mora County and it isn’t just about oil-and-gas drilling—or even about fracking. It reflects a battle being played out across America.
Foster says: “It is about business and our American way of life. It is time for industry, business and the general public to fight back to expose the hypocrisy of the people who drive their cars, turn on their lights, take hot showers, wear their Patagonia jackets, and drink their Starbucks coffee at town hall meetings in Mora County.”
Author’s note: Text is adapted from a full report published in the May 2014 edition of Green Watch.
The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). Together they work to educate the public and influence policy makers regarding energy, its role in freedom, and the American way of life. Combining energy, news, politics, and, the environment through public events, speaking engagements, and media, the organizations’ combined efforts serve as America’s voice for energy.