Moratorium critical for Otero Mesa

The Ruidoso News

Time needed to research aquifer in the Salt Basin


Bipartisanship, lacking as it is in today’s divisive political arena, can be a wonderful thing.

It is especially welcomed with the meeting of the minds of New Mexico’s two U.S. senators, one a Democrat, the other a Republican, in calling for a groundwater resources study that will shed light on the nature and extent of water resources in New Mexico.

Senators Pete Domenici (R-NM) and Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) have co-sponsored the New Mexico Aquifer Assessment Act, which instructs the U.S. Geological Survey, in collaboration with the State of New Mexico, to study water in the Estancia Basin, Tularosa Basin, Hueco Basin, Middle Rio Grande Basin – and the Salt Basin aquifer in a southern New Mexico area that includes the ecologically sensitive and unique Otero Mesa.

The bill won approval in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in late May and is ready for full Senate consideration.

In conjunction, Bingaman and Domenici have asked the Bureau of Land Management to delay federal oil and gas activities on Otero Mesa until a water assessment in the region is completed.

The Ruidoso News supports a moratorium as a critical step in determining the quality and quantity of water in the Salt Basin – water that might support the kind of regional growth that is already impinging on El Paso and southern New Mexico.

We daresay water, not oil, is our most precious commodity, for we can never drill our way to “energy independence,” nor can we fully restore an environmentally degraded area to its pristine state.

A coalition of ranchers, conservationists, hunters, recreationists, scientists, outfitters and others – spanning the spectrum of left to right – are opposed to oil and gas development on Otero Mesa, period. Arrayed against them are some well-financed, lobbyist-influenced members of Congress, such as New Mexico Representative Steve Pearce, and, of course, the top echelons of Big Oil.

The Ruidoso News hopes that it is not too late to stop the BLM’s seemingly headstrong march to allow oil and gas development on Otero Mesa. We hope that the people’s voices, and not those of self-serving corporate interests, will rule the day.

We hope that a potential water oasis will be rescued for future generations and for our thirsty, growing communities, and that Otero Mesa will remain, as former Lincoln County Chairman Rick Simpson has said, “real close to the way God made it.”



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Coalition for Otero Mesa
Phone: (505) 843-8696 | Fax: (505) 843-8697
Contact us for more information about the Coalition for Otero Mesa, oil & gas development, or the ongoing effort to protect the last wild lands and open spaces in New Mexico.