Published: 2:15 pm, Thu. Nov. 17th, 2016Updated: 2:11 pm
New Mexico State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn announced today that his office will not grant access to Siana Operating, LLC, a company that trespassed on State Trust Land and caused significant spills of oil and produced water on an expired business lease near Eunice earlier this year, until they agree to the Land Office’s terms for proper site delineation.
The Land Office issued a cease and desist order against Siana in March of this year in response to the discovery of trespass and damage on Siana’s expired business lease in Lea County. Since that time, Land Office staff developed a comprehensive site delineation plan in order to determine the extent of the environmental damage and possible groundwater contamination resulting from the company’s operations.
The Land Office has not received a response from Siana regarding the agency’s delineation plan, but has become aware of the fact that Siana has negotiated a significantly less extensive delineation plan with the New Mexico Oil Conservation Division (OCD), which is the agency that regulates oil and gas activity in New Mexico.
“One of my top priorities as Land Commissioner is to preserve and protect our State Trust Lands for the benefit of future generations. Siana has caused significant damage to trust land and my office will continue to do everything in its power to hold Siana accountable for its actions,” said Dunn. “I am disappointed that the OCD did not take the Land Office’s delineation requirements into account prior to reaching a settlement agreement with Siana. Their agreement will not properly address some of the most critical areas of concern, especially as it relates to the possibility of groundwater contamination.”
Siana received a site delineation plan that outlined the requirements of the Land Office in early October. Regardless of the fact that Siana reached a settlement agreement with the OCD, Land Office permission is required for Siana to access State Trust Land.
“Siana thought they could avoid performing the Land Office’s necessary site delineation requirements by reaching an agreement with the OCD without our concurrence and that is not acceptable. We will do whatever is legally possible to ensure that the proper site delineation and remediation is completed by Siana in order to properly remediate these State Trust Lands. The beneficiaries of the trust – the public schoolchildren of New Mexico – deserve that,” said Dunn.