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SWEPI, LP v. Mora County, New Mexico

ELR Citation: 45 ELR 20013
Nos. CIV 14-0035 JB/SCY, (D.N.M., 01/19/2015) (Browning, J.)

A district court, in a 199-page opinion, struck down a local county ordinance banning oil-and-gas drilling, including hydraulic fracturing, within Mora County, New Mexico. Portions of the ordinance essentially provide that corporations have no federal constitutional rights. For example, the ordinance states that corporations that violate, or that seek to violate, the ordinance have no First or Fifth Amendment rights. A county, however, may not nullify constitutional rights. As such, the ordinance blatantly contradicts the U.S. Constitution and Supreme Court precedent in violation of the Supremacy Clause. In addition, the New Mexico Oil and Gas Act impliedly preempts the county from completely banning oil-and-gas production. Therefore, portions of the ordinance also violate state law. Because the invalid provisions are not severable from the remaining valid provisions, the court vacated the ordinance in its entirety.