Hearings continue Wednesday in New Mexico on proposed changes to make the state's "pit rule" for oil/natural gas drilling more cost effective. Additional hearings are expected to last through Aug. 17 and the Oil Conservation Commission (OCC) has set closing arguments and final deliberation for September, according to staff in the New Mexico Environment Department. An eighth day of hearings was concluded last Thursday with direct testimony from two Oil Conservation Division supervisors who supported modifications in the rule for handling gas and oil drilling production waste (see Daily GPI, May 22) that will result in "clear and unambiguous" requirements. Industry representatives earlier in the hearings said drilling costs are rising to comply with the state rule, while local ranchers and environmental group representatives expressed their concerns about adverse impacts on the environment.

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