This article discusses the hidden consequences of New Mexico’s latest oil boom. Carlsbad residents are experiencing health impacts, but the science behind their woes lags behind the pace of drilling.
Oil and gas development has existed for years in the Permian Basin, which stretches from southeastern New Mexico into Texas. But about five years ago, the boom landed on the George family’s doorstep when Mack Energy started clearing a well pad in the field just across the road. In Carlsbad, wells can legally be drilled within 500 feet of homes. Outside city limits, where this family lives, the minimum is 300 feet. That well shook the family’s home like an earthquake — literally and figuratively. “I always thought, ‘This is a good thing,’” said Aucoin, noting the jobs and revenue drilling brought to the state’s southeastern corner. “Until they moved in next door to me.”