SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A st[auth] ate district judge has stalled administrative efforts by New Mexico regulators to revamp rules that govern how oil and gas developers handle drilling waste.
Judge Raymond Ortiz has granted a request by the New Mexico Environmental Law Center that the state Oil Conservation Commission be prohibited from reconsidering the pit rule until legal appeals have been resolved.
Ortiz issued his order Tuesday.
The pit rule was designed to prevent ground and surface water contamination. It governs how oil and gas producers handle wastes from drilling operations in buried tanks, sumps, pits and closed-loop systems.
While environmentalists argue the rule is needed to protect the state’s water supplies, the industry contends it needs to be amended to ensure New Mexico producers remain competitive with energy developers in neighboring states.