After hundreds of Sandoval County residents turned out to the two hearings on the permit application, and more than 2,000 signed a petition opposing the special-use permit to drill in an area zoned residential, the Sandoval County Planning and Zoning Commission recommended denial of an application by nearly bankrupt Oklahoma corporation SandRidge Energy Inc. to frack.
New Energy Economy and a coalition of groups urged the county to impose a moratorium on all oil and gas extraction and exploration until ordinances can be developed to protect community health, air, water and other resources from such operations.
On November 12, 2015, SandRidge Exploration and Production, LLC, an Oklahoma-based oil and gas company, applied to Sandoval County for a zoning change to allow for an exploratory well to be drilled just outside the City of Rio Rancho. While SandRidge tried to avoid any public hearing on the proposal, saying there were no surrounding communities, residents of Rio Rancho and the surrounding area have been expressing their concern over allowing this company to drill an exploratory well which will involve fracking. Fracking is a threat to the environment, especially nearby drinking water. Fracking leads to the release of chemicals and gases that exist underground which can cause severe adverse health effects.
"Sandoval County Planning & Zoning acted responsibly in voting to reject SandRidge's re-zoning request," said Mariel Nanasi, Executive Director, New Energy Economy. "Our best bet for economic development is investment in renewables rather than fracking from companies on the cusp of defaults and bankruptcy. Why would New Mexicans want to bank on companies that are over-leveraged and have a track record of poisoning our air and water? We wouldn’t," stated Nanasi.