New Mexicans don’t run away from challenges. We take responsibility and demand accountability.

But New Mexico’s Oil and Gas Act of 1935 is out-of-date and needs reforming.

Its penalties and enforcement are so weak it has become little more than a permit to pollute.


New Mexicans have a lot of pride. We work hard so our families will have the opportunity for a brighter future.

In an age of extreme weather and drought, we have a responsibility to protect New Mexico’s precious water—the vital blood stream upon which our communities, our agriculture and our whole economic future depend.

Contamination from increased gas and oil drilling operations are one of the biggest threats to our ground water. Responsible operators do just fine, but we need strong safeguards to deter polluters and hold them accountable.


Facing the Facts about the 1935 Oil and Gas Act: 


In 1935 the operator could be fined $1,000 a day for a violation or $1,000 a day for an ongoing violation or $1,000 for the violation itself. In 2013, if we have a violation, we can fine the operator $1,000 a day for an ongoing violation or $1,000 for the violation.‖In 1935, the $1,000 fine was equivalent to 2,500 barrels of oil. Today $1,000 is roughly equivalent to 10 – 20 barrels. And we’re talking about one of the most profitable industries on the planet.


The 1935 Oil and Gas Act is a self-monitoring, self-reporting program — covering 53,000 wells. Also surviving from 1935 is a provision stating that a company cannot be fined unless the state Oil Conservation Division proves a violation was committed ―knowingly and willingly. To require that polluters must be found to have ―knowingly and willingly committed a violation is akin to allowing the Department of Health to assess a penalty only after it proves a restaurant with rats in its kitchen knowingly and willingly allowed rats into the establishment.


 This message was brought to you jointly by the Campaign for a Better New Mexico of the SouthWest Organizing Project and the Center for Civic Policy.

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