ABQ Journal Opinion/Editorials – Finding Gas on Mesa Would Benefit Us All

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ABQ Journal Opinon/Editorials

ABQJOURNAL OPINION/EDITORIALS: Finding Gas on Mesa Would Benefit Us All
Printed from ABQjournal.com, a service of the Albuquerque Journal
Friday, June 13, 2008

Finding Gas on Mesa Would Benefit Us All

With regular gas hovering near $4 a gallon and natural gas expected to go up 40 percent by next winter’s heating season, New Mexicans have serious energy issues to worry about. What they don’t need is a fear-monger raising false issues as well.

Unfortunately, that’s exactly what an environmental group called 1Sky New Mexico appears to be doing.

In mailers sent to West Side residents, the group recently raised an alarm about “oil” drilling on the West Mesa. The executive director of 1Sky, John Fogarty, warned of possible water contamination and adverse health effects from drilling.

Let’s get real. Tecton Energy has drilled one test well — for natural gas, not oil — north of Interstate 40 at the top of Nine Mile Hill. The 8,000-foot well came up dry.

By late summer Tecton hopes to begin another test well farther north. West Mesa residents, and all of New Mexico, should be wishing the company well rather than forming protest groups. Tecton is working under contract with the heirs of the old Atrisco Land Grant, who formed an energy company when they sold the 57,000-acre grant to SunCal Companies in 2006. By retaining their mineral rights, the heirs hope to capitalize a second time on their legacy from the king of Spain.

Discovering a rich gas field west of Albuquerque would be good news for everyone in the Duke City, not just those with family ties to the duke.

If Tecton strikes natural gas, the drilling needs to be done in compliance with strict standards on air quality, noise and visual pollution. There’s a long way to go before alternative energy sources free us from reliance on fossil fuel. In the meantime, we simply don’t have the luxury of arbitrarily blocking oil and gas.

Fear-mongering about water contamination and undefined health risks will only worry residents who may, at last, get something to celebrate in the long battle to increase our supply of energy.

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