RIO RANCHO, NM (KRQE) – An Oklahoma oil company, now the center of national controversy, still plans to drill for oil in New Mexico. Residents are fighting back, saying they don’t want the company here.
“I feel no good can come from this,” said Rio Rancho resident, Laura Emans. Emans is strongly against SandRidge Energy drilling for oil in Sandoval county.
“They’re not obeying state officials from Oklahoma, so what are they gonna do when they come here?” Emans told KRQE News 13.
The Oklahoma-based oil and gas company made national news this week for defying state regulators’ requests to shut down its wastewater disposal wells in earthquake-prone areas. The Wall Street Journal cites growing research linking disposal wells to the spike in earthquakes.
SandRidge was granted a permit by the state of New Mexico last year to drill an exploratory well near Rio Rancho.
“It’s gonna take away from the community, people are gonna move away, property values are gonna depreciate, nobody is gonna wanna live here,” said Emans.
The proposed drill site sits northwest of Northern and Encino, on a property currently permitted for residential and agricultural use. SandRidge is asking Sandoval County for an exemption on the property for commercial use.
SandRidge still needs Sandoval County’s seal of approval before drilling. KRQE News 13 reached out to county officials for comment, but a spokesperson denied the request, citing a pending decision by Planning and Zoning.
“It seems like there’s a lot of smoke and mirrors going on, it sounds as though they don’t want to be in the public eye,” said Emans.
Some speculate the push to keep their operations going, is because SandRidge isn’t doing so well financially. Their stock was delisted from the New York Stock Exchange, when it dropped to 15 cents a share.
“The stock exchange has a deep impact on who’s valuable and who’s not valuable,” Emans told News 13. “If the stock exchange is dropping SandRidge Energy, that speaks volumes.”
No one from SandRidge Energy responded to KRQE News 13’s request for comment.
Emans said she’s not the only one who’d like to see SandRidge’s permit to drill in Sandoval County revoked. She spearheads the website, SaveRioRancho.com to raise awareness about the issue.
“We could do great things, we could create jobs with green energy here in Rio Rancho, we can be the leader in that, it’s up to our state officials to make that choice,” Emans added.
Sandoval County’s Planning and Zoning commission were supposed to make a decision on this back in December. There was so much public comment, the meeting will now continue on January 28.
If Planning and Zoning approves the drilling site, Sandoval County commissioners will have the final say.