In the midst of the hydraulic fracturing revolution, elected officials in Mora County, New Mexico recently banned all oil and gas production within the county. But the officials went even further, stripping corporations of constitutional rights and declaring the constitutions of the United States and the state of New Mexico illegal if interpreted as inconsistent with the ordinance. Why would a small rural county like Mora with no oil and gas operations to speak of adopt such an extreme ordinance? This article applies economics, political choice, and localism theories to argue that Mora County’s decision may be at least partly explained by special interest group influence. The severance of land into separate surface and mineral estates exacerbates the influence disparity by concentrating votes in residents with little to no participation in the proceeds of production. Reasonable, traditional land use restrictions certainly have a place to protect truly local interests. This article maintains, however, that outright bans and extreme restrictions improperly infringe upon state interests.



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