- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 7, 2017

CARLSBAD, N.M. (AP) - Eddy County officials say they were “blackmailed” by the state of New Mexico into approving a $125,000 study of a brine well to prevent it from collapsing.

County commissioners said Tuesday that they had no other choice but to contribute the funds to get the Carlsbad Brine Well problem solved, despite their insistence that the state is to blame for the danger posed by the brine well, The Current-Argus reported (http://bit.ly/2r2DbSF ). Experts say if the well collapses, it could destroy infrastructure and kill residents.

The state collected profits from the well, which it licensed and ultimately decided to close in 2008 when the ground was found unstable.

“Call it blackmail, call it coercion,” County Manager Rick Rudometkin said. “Bottom line is they wanted some skin in the game. We’re going to get sued regardless if that thing falls.”

The county and City of Carlsbad both initially approved $50,000 each earlier this year under the assumption the state would contribute $400,000.

In April, House Bill 2 was passed by the Legislature requiring Eddy County and the City of Carlsbad together to come up with half of $500,000.

Carlsbad city councilors approved a $125,000 line item in the city’s budget and are planning to vote for final approval at a June meeting.

Vice Chair Susan Crockett moved to add language to the resolution absolving the county of liability.

“Eddy County is accepting no ownership of the Carlsbad Brine Well,” Crockett said. “We’re only approving the money of the appropriation to go to the state.”

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Information from: Carlsbad Current-Argus, http://www.currentargus.com/

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