ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A federal judge has overturned a northeastern New Mexico county’s effort to ban oil and natural gas drilling.
District Judge James O. Browning’s 199-page order released Tuesday declares Mora County’s ordinance invalid.
The ordinance was enacted in April 2013. It cited environmental concerns and put the county’s decision-making rights ahead of business interests and federal and state permits.
A Shell subsidiary challenged the ordinance in court, contending that the ordinance effectively destroyed the value of the company’s $1 million drilling leases.
Mora County is far from the oil and gas hotspots in southeastern and northwestern New Mexico, but the county’s ordinance sparked industry concern.
Browning had said previously that parts of the ordinance were unconstitutional, but his ruling Tuesday invalidated the entire ordinance.
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