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City Of Flagstaff Files Restraining Order To Halt Oil, Gas, Helium Drilling

City of Flagstaff

The City of Flagstaff has filed a temporary restraining order against a Canadian energy company to block oil, gas and helium drilling east of the city. Officials say the project could threaten a future water source. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports.

Flagstaff officials say Desert Mountain Energy’s drilling project on leased state land is within a mile-and-a-half of the city-owned Red Gap Ranch. The C Aquifer below the property will serve as a future underground municipal water supply. City officials worry the project could contaminate or disrupt the water source, especially if the company uses hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, to access oil, gas and helium.

"The city feels this is a critical public health and welfare matter … Our water experts are concerned about the safety of the water supply and the damage that could be done to that C Aquifer that is of such importance to the City of Flagstaff," says city spokesperson Jessica Drum.

A spokesperson for Desert Mountain Energy says the project won’t have any impact on the water supplies at Red Gap Ranch, and the company doesn’t plan to use fracking there. Desert Mountain Energy also says it’ll seek unspecified damages from the city.

A hearing is set for Wednesday.

Ryan Heinsius was named interim news director and managing editor in January 2024. He joined KNAU's newsroom as an executive producer in 2013. He covers a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Public Media Journalists Association Award winner, and a frequent contributor to NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered and national newscast.
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