Monday, December 31, 2007

Public hearing about the revised oil & gas ordinance 1st revised draft and letters to the editor

Revised Draft 1 of the Santa Fe County Oil & Gas Ordinance released January 4, 2008 (click here).

County sponsored public hearing about the revised draft of the oil & gas ordinance to be held Monday, Jan. 7th, 3:00pm at Santa Fe Community College, the William C. Witter Fitness Education Center gymnasium at Santa Fe Community College, 6401 Richards Ave. (click here for map)(click here for campus map)

A New Mexican letter to the editor:
"Citizens must act
The will of the people is loud and clear: Santa Fe County must be protected from the devastation gas and oil activities would bring. If corporations are allowed to ruin our lives and environment, against the will of the people, then democracy is dead. If our elected officials trounce the democratic process with secret meetings and a weakened ordinance, against the will of the people, then Santa Fe County is dead.

According to Noam Chomsky, "the political system is carefully managed to prevent the threat of democracy." That's only true if we don't take action.

Bob Gallagher of New Mexico Oil and Gas Association has stated: "We will not sit back and allow our industry to be vilified and subject to unlawful actions of any individual, private or public body." To that, I respond: We the people will not sit back and allow our democracy to be undermined and subject to the unlawful actions of politicians and corporations.

Ellen Cavalli
Dixon "
Letters to the editor (click here to read this and other letters)

Friday, December 21, 2007

Letters to Santa Fe County regarding 1st draft of the Oil & Gas Ordinance and a letter to Tecton Energy, LLC regarding OCD applications to drill

This post will likely grow.

December 21, 2007:
Joint letter to Santa Fe County from Santa Fe Conservation Trust and Earthworks Institute (click here for the letter, large file).

Letter from the Forest Guardians to Tecton Energy, LLC regarding the Oil Conservation Division applications to drill and the County-sponsored work group (click here for the letter).

Some great oil & gas articles in the Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter Rio Grande Sierran (direct link: Rio Grande Sierran) .

December 22, 2007:
Santa Fe Basin Water Association (click here for position paper).

Fred & JJ Milder (click here for letter).

The Cerrillos Hills Parks Coaltion (click here for position paper).

The Acoustic Ecology Institute (click here for position paper).

Santa Fe Councilor Patti Bushee (A Resolution Opposing Oil & Gas Exploitation Within Santa Fe County)

December 24, 2007:
Press Release: Forest Guardians: (Click here to read the press release, "Tecton says 'Frack You' in Denying Request from Groups and Residents to Withdraw Drilling Applications.)

December 27, 2007:
Letter to Commissioner Campos from Forest Guardians, Drilling Santa Fe, Sierra Club and individuals of the Oil & Gas Advisory Committee regarding the meeting scheduled for December 28th (click here to read the letter).

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Governor Richardson Issues Statement on Proposed Plans for Oil and Gas Drilling in Galisteo Basin

(Santa Fe, NM) Today Governor Richardson issued the following statement on the proposed oil and gas drilling in the Galisteo Basin:
“I’m skeptical that oil and gas drilling can be conducted in the Galisteo basin without placing our environment and water quality at risk,” said Governor Richardson.
Last month, I asked Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department Secretary Joanna Prukop to ensure that the permit process be open and transparent with full opportunity for public input, and guarantee that any possible drilling have the maximum protections for health and environment and minimum ecological footprint on our community.
She has already negotiated an agreement by Tecton to honor the Santa Fe County moratorium, to use closed loop systems in their drilling like we require on Otero Mesa, and not to dispose of their waste on site.
I’m confident Secretary Prukop and her department will assure our state’s obligations under the law and to our citizens are met.” (click here for the original press release.)

This statement is very disappointing. There is no mention of County authority to regulate and to protect our resources from the adverse impacts of oil & gas activity. There is no mention of the comprehensive survey of the Galisteo Basin's environment, natural resources, hydrology, geology, archaeology, and ground and surface water quality that must be completed prior to authorizing any oil & gas exploration or development. The Galisteo Basin must be protected.

Coalition formed due to the possibility of oil & gas drilling in Santa Fe County

A coalition has formed in regards to the possibility of oil & gas drilling in Santa Fe County. The purpose of the coalition to protect the resources of Santa Fe County from the possibility of oil & gas extraction and will offer positive alternative solutions. In alphabetical order (click on the name below to go to the respective websites):

Commonweal Conservancy
Drilling Santa Fe
Earthworks Institute
IATSE Local 480
New Mexico Environmental Law Center
Oil & Gas Accountability Project (OGAP)
Santa Fe Conservation Trust
Wildlife Federation

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Santa Fe County Adds 2nd Written Comment Period for Second Oil & Gas Ordinance

December 18, 2007

County Adds 2nd Written Comment Period for Oil & Gas Ordinance

The Santa Fe County Board of County Commissioners, responding to resident requests for an extension of time for public comment, will be adding more time for written public input on the new oil and gas drilling ordinance. The written comment period on the revised draft of the oil and gas drilling ordinance being presented at a January 7th public hearing will be from January 8th through January 23rd. The deadline for written comment for the first draft is December 21st. The purpose of the December 21st deadline is to ensure County staff will have time to adequately process and include as much public contribution as possible before presenting the revised version on January 7th. Receiving 500 letters with technical comments two days before the public hearing does not allow enough time for staff to give them the consideration they deserve. The December 21st deadline also provides a holiday break for residents analyzing the ordinance and writing comments.

“Inviting written comment on the revised draft creates another opportunity for public input” said Roman Abeyta, Santa Fe County Manager. “Every call, letter and email is significant to us and it’s our job to create opportunities for productive public engagement.”


Contact: Stephen Ulibarri, Public Information Officer (505) 986-6353/795-0828

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Santa Fe Reporters David Alire Garcia and Dave Maass

Journalists David Alire Garcia and Dave Maass of the Santa Fe Reporter spent many laborious hours researching and interviewing about the proposed oil & gas drilling in Santa Fe County for the article "Mother Frackers." (click here to link to the article "Mother Frackers").

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Oil Conservation Division receives 3 applications from Tecton Energy, LLC to drill in Santa Fe County

"The New Mexico Oil Conservation Division received three applications for permits to drill in Santa Fe County (County) today from Tecton Energy, LLC (Tecton). Before accepting these applications to drill, the Oil Conservation Division negotiated a strict agreement with Tecton on how and when it would proceed in the County if any application to drill was approved." (click here for full press release)

The three wells are: Tecton Ortiz 26-1; Tecton State 16-1; & Tecton Bruce Black 1-2.
For a link to the application with survey maps and aerial views, click here. Warning, it is a large file and will take a long time to open.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Rocky Mountain News, "Beyond the Boom," four days of special reports

"In 'Beyond the Boom,' four days of special reports beginning Dec. 10, the Rocky Mountain News will examine whether Colorado is ready to deal with the phenomenon that could shape its future for decades to come."

Click here for "Beyond the Boom."

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Online Petition ( Oil and gas exploration and development permitting moratorium ( has a donation button and is only an option and those donations do not go to Drilling Santa Fe).
For printing hard copies (pdf).

The County Attorney unveiled the draft oil and gas ordinance (click here). For some of the petition demands it falls short, such as the absolute protection of the aquifer. The draft proposes to weaken, not strengthen some the protections provided by the existing mining ordinance. Updated (Click here) for key protections lost under the draft oil & gas ordinance.

The Santa Fe Board of County Commissioners unanimously passed a three month drilling permit moratorium. Let us use the next three months to strengthen the draft oil & gas ordinance and to continue the petition drive. Also, demand an extension be granted for written comments beyond the December 21st deadline.

Click here for Santa Fe County Mining Ordinance overview flyer and click here for the Santa Fe County Land Development Code, which contains the mining ordinance (Article 3, Section 5, pages 64 - 102: Note that the page numbers given in the Table of Contents are off by several pages).

For an excellent educational website, go to the Oil & Gas Accountability Project (OGAP).

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Peaceful March

Tony Bonanno Photography (Tony has given permission for free downloading and use of the pictures): photographs of the December 8th march.

On January 11th, a twilight march to begin at 5:30pm from the park by the U.S. Courthouse at Washington & Federal Place, then proceed to the plaza. Dr. Held has obtained a permit and suggested bringing torches, flashlights and candles.

Jerry Held, MD, who is concerned about the long term health effects upon our Santa Fe County citizens from the possibility of oil & gas activity in the County, is organizing a peaceful march on December 8th, to begin at 10:00 am from the park by U.S. Courthouse at Washington & Federal Place, then proceed to the plaza. Dr. Held has obtained a permit.
Related sites: Our Stolen Future & NRDC Endocrine Disruptors

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Oil Drilling in Santa Fe County?

Oil and gas explorers have leased hundreds of square miles of minerals from south of Galisteo through the Ortiz Mountains to the outskirts of Santa Fe. They have repaired corroded, leaking casings in an old well off HWY 14 near the Galisteo Creek. They have fractured the formation with a new round of chemicals and thousands of barrels of water to release the high-quality "sweet" crude oil trapped by the chemical reactions left from the 1980s. Yes, they did find oil and gas back in the early 1980s. But the boom turned to bust and prices plummeted (The Heritage Foundation). There was no pipeline for the natural gas. This time they have big plans, including pipelines to carry the natural gas. Santa Fe County is bracing for the real possibility of an unprecedented round of oil and gas drilling exploration. However, some are skeptical about the viability of such a project.

Disclaimer: The views expressed are those of Drilling Santa Fe.

Upcoming Events

Major upcoming event: Public Meeting, December 6th, 6:30pm to 8:30pm: Santa Fe County Public Oil & Gas Meeting at the Santa Fe High Gym. Officials attending: All five of the Santa Fe County Commissioners; Representatives King & Wirth; Senator Geigo; from the State Land Office, John Bemis; and from the Oil Conservation Division, Mark Fesmire. Click here for meeting flyer.

KUNM (Jim Williams) podcast: (click here)
November 26: OCC Pit Hearings Continue: 10:00 am to 6:00 pm (public comment is taken before the OCC breaks for lunch and before the OCC adjourns for the day). Where: Porter Hall, 1220 S. St. Francis Drive, Wendell Chinco Building, Santa Fe, New Mexico. (Heading North on St. Francis, turn left on Alta Vista. Go past the Lujan Building. It is the last building; southwest corner of the complex.) Please note that there are no hearings planned for Wednesday and Thursday. Friday may be a good day for public comments. Then, the hearings will resume Monday, December 3rd. (Link to the Oil Conservation Division) .

In a related recent article regarding the Oil Conservation Commission (OCC), Oil and gas industry fights state environmental regulations, 'New Mexico Oil and Gas Association President Bob Gallagher expects the pit rules to wind up in litigation, the same as the new surface waste and enforcement regulations, which industry leaders already appealed in district court in Santa Fe.

‘Industry is spending hundreds of millions of dollars in legal fees to fight these regulations,’ Gallagher said. "We have no choice. These are burdensome and costly regulations that are very detrimental to industry.’…

…’But even with the court challenges, the state's new environmental rules are likely to take effect, Fesmire said (see above).

‘We've bent over backwards to address their issues in the stakeholder process, but ever since we started updating the rules, industry has, without exception, appealed everything,’ Fesmire said. ‘They're within their legal rights, but they're just drawing it out as long as they can."

Recent Gallagher Opinon, "Tecton part of new generation of oil business."

With permission, here are links provided by Tony Bonanno Photography (click here) of the Tecton public presentation (click here) and of the Santa Fe County public forum (click here). Tony says that anyone is welcome to download anything at no charge.

Recent related articles:
451 Press
Are Regulations to Blame?

Mineral Leases, Split Estate, Oil Revenue, and Updates

Several newspaper articles have confused the complicated issues of split estate and mineral leases, so it should be pointed out that to lease mineral rights, may not prevent oil & gas drilling and development due to "forced pooling." Such as, "a company may pool two or more leases to create a tract that is sufficient in size to form a drilling unit for a single well" (Oil & Gas Accountability Project [OGAP]). And the State expects the entity leasing State minerals to make every effort to extract minerals. Otherwise, the lease is taken back by the State. Even if individuals could purchase private mineral rights and were to refuse to lease them to Oil & Gas drillers, forced pooling could pool those minerals for extraction.

For more information about mineral rights, split estate, forced pooling and so forth, please go to the OGAP site or to order or download, "Oil and Gas at Your Door?" Given that most surface property owners in New Mexico do not own the minerals beneath, the more important question may be not who owns your minerals but, if leased, who has the minerals leased. (Also, see Action Alert: On-site Burial of Oil & GAs Pit Waste.)

Oil revenue Op Ed, "County, don't bite oil-revenue carrot." Also, a letter to the editor.

On October 30th, please tune in to "The Journey Home" at 4:00pm and listen to an interview between Diego Mulligan and Drilling Santa Fe on KSFR, 101.1 FM.

Recent KSFR oil & gas stories, click on Public NewsRoom and listen to the Oct. 22nd and 25th Podcasts.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Black-Ferrill #1 OCD Report

For OCD - Well Reports:

Click here for EMNRD public access. Then click "Well Files." Then go to "County" and select from the drop down menu "Santa Fe," then click "Continue." Click on the circle next to "Well Name & Number: Ferrill No. 001, Operator: Tecton Energy, LLC." At the bottom of the page, click on "Continue." The dispay screen will have the most recent report at the bottom of the page and to the right. Click on image to open. Or, go to direct link to Black-Ferrill #1 reports.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

What are the consequences of oil & gas drilling in Santa Fe County - intended & unintended?

What are the consequences of oil & gas drilling exploration to Santa Fe County -- intended and unintended? To begin to answer that question, there must be independent hydrogeological, environmental, cultural, and adverse economic impact studies conducted.

Santa Fe County is in a unique position. The citizenry of Santa Fe County has the fortitude to support County officials, who will stand up to the oil & gas industry.

There are some people who have expressed uncertainty about the County’s authority to protect our precious water resources from oil and gas activities. We believe that this uncertainty is misplaced and that the County has full authority to protect its water resources – both surface water and groundwater – from the certain damage that would be caused by oil and gas activities. We further believe that it would be disastrous for the County to "throw in the towel" on the basis of a perceived preemption issue, instead of exercising its full authority under the New Mexico Constitution and New Mexico statutes.

Likewise, we believe that it is unlikely that a court would find that the County does not have authority to protect the County's water resources from the adverse effects of oil and gas activities. We have looked carefully at the State's Water Quality Act and the State's Oil and Gas Act. Looked at together, it seems clear that the New Mexico legislature has intended to preserve the authority of local governments to protect water resources more stringently than those resources are protected by the State.

To write to your elected officials: Santa Fe County ; New Mexico Legislature ; U.S. Congressmembers ; Sample Letter .

Disclaimer: The views expressed are those of Drilling Santa Fe.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

How many barrels?

"This world uses a thousand barrels of oil a second-- that's 86 million barrels a day. With China, India and other emerging nations continuing to grow, that number's not going anywhere but up."

"According to Dirks, the portion of the rift between Santa Fe and Socorro may contain one of the largest hydrocarbon resources in New Mexico, containing 50 to 100 million barrels of light sweet crude oil and 5 to 10 trillion cubic feet of natural gas." -- Tecton Energy, LLC Press Release, September 19,2007.

Enough oil for just about a day of current world consumption; but, what about the adverse economic, cultural, water source, and environmental impacts to Santa Fe and Santa Fe County?

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Produced Water

Produced Water: "Any water that is produced to the surface along with oil or gas." "It is the largest waste stream generated by the oil and gas industry." Oil and Gas Accountability Project

"For every barrel of oil produced, approximately 10 barrels of brackish or saline water is generated." Sandia National Laboratories

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Upcoming Events & Information

There are some important upcoming oil & gas meetings. For information, go to High Desert Reports and to a Flyer received.

At these meetings, "closed-loop drilling systems" will be discussed. To learn more about true closed-loop drilling systems, go to . Also, an OCD Press Release about an award for the pitless drilling system.

From the The New York Times an article regarding, "Minerals Management Service, the agency within the Interior Department responsible for collecting about $10 billion a year in royalties on oil and gas."

Monday, September 17, 2007

Future Water - 3 Part Series & Report: Drilling surge projected across West, The Santa Fe New Mexican

Click here for the third in a three part series. Under "related stories"of this story at the, there are links to the previous two stories of the series.

Click here for the article about the Wilderness Society oil and gas drilling report.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Texas Firm Cancels Drilling Plans

From the Albuqerque Journal:
"A Texas engineering firm has reportedly dropped plans to drill for coal-bed methane in the pristine wildlife area that supplies the city of Raton's drinking water....
The city last month filed suit to bar the drilling. Raton officials feared that the huge volumes of groundwater pumped to the surface as part of the drilling process could pollute and diminish water supplies....
'The city will continue to be proactive in opposing any future drilling activities which do not accommodate and protect its water rights from depletion and contamination,' the city said."

Letter to the Editor: "Drilling for Oil and Gas in Santa Fe County"

From the Sun Monthly:

"Meanwhile, the National Energy Bill, currently before Congress, includes an exemption from the Clean Water Act for the effects of fraccing (thanks to Dick Cheney's secret energy task force). This means that municipalities and individual property owners have to bear the burden of health risks, cleanup and property damage from groundwater contamination caused by hydraulic fracturing. Call senator Bingaman (988-6647) and Representative Udall (984-8950) to ask that this exemption be taken out of the energy bill." See "Fracing and Water" on this site.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Tweeti Blancett - She's Back!

Galisteo Community Association is bringing Tweeti Blancett back to Santa Fe County for an important public meeting. Tweeti Blancett, a New Mexico rancher from Aztec, will present her graphic tale of how the ravages of oil and gas exploration and production have impacted her ranch and the San Juan Basin.

When: Sunday, October 7, 2007
7:00pm to 9:00pm

Where: The Galisteo Community Center

Directions: Across from County Road 42 (as well as, across from the church) is Via La Puente. Go east on Via La Puente and cross the wooden bridge over the Galisteo Creek. Stay to your right and pass the Fire Station. The Community Center is on the left (east) side of the road.
Mapquest map

Contact: Muriel Fariello: 466-4763

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Public Health and Toxics

From Earthworks: "There are a variety of chemicals used during the drilling and production phases of oil and gas; and different types of wastes are produced throughout the development process.

The purpose of the Oil & Gas Accountability Project's Public Health and Toxics Program is to help communities and citizens better understand and protect themselves from the health and environmental impacts associated with toxic oil and gas chemicals and wastes."

Link to Earthworks

Earthworks O&G Factsheet

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Atrisco Oil & Gas, LLC agreement with Tecton Energy, LLC

The deal to sell Westland Development Co. last year may become more lucrative for former shareholders.
Atrisco Oil & Gas LLC announced Monday it has made an agreement with Tecton Energy of Houston to search for natural gas on 50,000 acres that once were part of the Atrisco Land Grant.

Albuquerque Journal article -- subscription required

Atrisco Oi & Gas, LLC article

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Fracing and Water

Originally, Drilling Santa Fe began, "Drilling in Santa Fe County?" with a picture of a fracing crew along the Galisteo Creek. About fracing, from a editorial in the, "Depletion: Barnett Shale wells require fracturing of the limestone formation to release the oil and gas trapped within. Water, sand, and hazardous chemicals are injected under high pressure down the drilling hole to fracture the limestone. Each fracing uses between 1.5 and 6 million gallons of fresh water. According to Halliburton at the Petroleum Technology Transfer Council, each well is fraced an average of 17 times." (see related article, "How Halliburton Technology is Wrecking the Rockies" & "EPA to citizens: Frack you" & "The Costs of Fracking")

Consequently, Texas legislation, "Written by Sen. Troy Fraser, R-Arlington, SB 714 would require drillers to report groundwater use for drilling and fracing. This process of forcing sand and water into wells in order to release the gas can use up to 5 million gallons per frac, and as many as 17 fracs for certain kinds of wells. SB 715, also written by Fraser, would require better public notification of proposed injection wells so that the public can participate in the permitting process."

Other concerns from the Telluride Daily Planet, "Amos said that in 2001 EnCana had a fracking accident less than 100 yards from her home, which blew up her water well 'like a geyser at Yellowstone.' For a time, the company paid for drinking water for her family, then assured her that the well water was fine. Later she became ill and was diagnosed with a rare adrenal gland tumor, which is linked to 2BE, a benzene derivative, and a chemical used by EnCana for fracking."

From a subscriber, "According to the article, a frac can use 5,000,000 gallons of water -- that is more than 15.3 acre feet. Also according to the article, some wells are fraced as many as 17 times, for a total of 260 acre feet of water. Using the County's figure of 0.25 acre feet of use for a normal household/year, fracing one well could use as much water as 1,040 households would use in an entire year!"

*Click on the bold, underlined above to link to articles.

Friday, August 10, 2007

KSFR "Journey Home" with Diego Mulligan Interview

Please tune in to “The Journey Home” with Diego Mulligan for an interview with Drilling Santa Fe at 4:00pm, Tuesday, August 21, 2007.
Also, to get some background of oil & gas exploration in Santa Fe County, please listen to "Living on the Edge" with David Bacon and Zubi Wilson forty minute interview with Drilling Santa Fe originally aired on July 22, 2007. For the direct link to the interview, go to R3 Productions.

Link list:

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Have the Drillers Leased the Minerals Under Your Land?

Most land in Santa Fe county is split-estate. Most residents only own the surface of their land. The sub-surface rights belong to previous owners or the State or Federal government, and legally, the mineral rights take precedent over your surface rights. Oil & gas interests can lease those mineral rights without your knowledge. As of August 1st, Drilling Santa Fe has documented more than 80,000 acres of mineral rights in the Galisteo Basin and the Ortiz Mountains leased to oil and gas drillers.

Mineral owners should require stringent environmental restrictions in their leases. However, enforcement is difficult and seldom occurs with absentee mineral owners. The surface owners and neighbors are left with the damages.

The new Surface Owners Protection Act became law on July 1st, but it offers little protection for the environment, the water, or the neighbors.
Disclaimer: The views expressed are those of Drilling Santa Fe.

Article about the Colfax County experience and why Santa Fe County needs strong regulations, monitoring and enforcement: "The Real New West: Colfax County, New Mexico Successfully Beaten Into Place."

"Essentially, the people of Colfax County are throwing away their land, water, air, health and economic future for....well, nada mucho."

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Statistics for Thought

Who Owns The West?
"Oil produced in New Mexico from 1989-2003 totals 329.2 million barrels, an average of 1.2 day(s) of U.S. consumption per year."
The article has some statistics to ponder when considering the adverse impacts of oil and gas drilling to water, environmental, and cultural resources. There are also adverse economic impacts.
Disclaimer: The views expressed are those of Drilling Santa Fe.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Coal Bed Methane Drilling in Sugarite Canyon

"Sweet Sugarite: Time to speak up to protect treasured wild areas" - The Raton Range

"CBM (coal bed methane) drilling allegedly can pollute and deplete groundwater, trigger erosion, impact wildlife, and create noise and light pollution."

Save Our Sugarite (SOS)

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Gas Well Blowout

"Groups call for halt to drilling for remediation"- Billings Gazette
"That well suffered a blowout in August 2006. The incident released contaminants underground and into nearby springs and forced gas condensate and drilling fluid to the surface."

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Commentary: Fluid response to Otero Mesa

Nathan Newcomer - Albuquerque Tribune
"In 2002, a leak was discovered in a 6-inch crude oil gathering line near Monument, just south of Hobbs. Approximately 2,100 barrels of oil leaked from the pipeline, contaminating five acres of soil and polluting groundwater. This pipeline was only two years old.

In 2005, the New Mexico Oil Conservation Division compiled information regarding groundwater effects from leaks, spills and releases from oil and gas operations. There were close to 1,400 groundwater pollution instances that are attributed to oil and gas activities over the past decade.

Industry can wax poetic all it wants when it comes to "environmentally sound drilling," but the facts and data demonstrate their failure to protect our dwindling water resources."

Saturday, July 28, 2007

The New Mexican Articles

"County seeks to ease oil-drilling fears" -"Don’t panic. The public will have a chance to weigh in before new oil or gas drilling starts in Santa Fe County." (see previous article, "Oil drilling fears erupt in Galisteo, Cerrillos")

In response to the article in The New Mexican, July 24, 2007, “County Seeks to Ease Oil-Drilling Fears,” Drilling Santa Fe would like to make the following comments. First, it is good that the County will allow the public “a chance to weigh in.” Oil and gas exploration could adversely impact our health and our land. Water wells and aquifers could be damaged. Our limited supplies of water would be depleted, since oil and gas exploration and production require vast amounts of water.

The article states, ‘“Think about the amount of tax revenue it could bring to the county,” Ulibarri said, citing the approximately $8.2 billion dollars in natural gas revenue generated annually in San Juan County, in northwestern New Mexico.” We would clarify that a small fraction of the tax revenue actually is returned to the County. Much of the gross revenue leaves New Mexico, since many of the producers there are out of state.

Although “county officials don’t think there are great untapped sources of oil in the county,” without strict regulation and enforcement, damages can and do occur. Exploration brings a strain on the infrastructure with the influx of temporary workers and the road building and maintenance required for every well.

For example, an extensive study conducted for Valle Vidal concluded, “Committing the spectacular natural landscapes of Valle Vidal to commercial mineral development will not bring real economic development to Colfax County.”

"Energy development has high opportunity costs" - Sonoran Institute

Chicago Tribune, "In Minority Neighborhood, Kid's Risk of Cancer Soars," printed in The New Mexican, 'Environmental Racism'

Farmington Urban Well Pad

(Click on picture for larger view)

About the picture from a Farmington resident: "Here is a picture I took in Farmington a couple of days ago... note that this is inside a city that has a lot of good regs....but look at how close this is to the house (most regs are written for the distance from the well head to a structure... not from the pad perimeter). This well pad fence comes up right to the edge of the house and garage. It has an opaque green slat fence but the pad still is huge (acres) and has those big buildings that house the noise and other things. Notice the area... really nice large expensive homes... other areas of Farmington do not have this quality of enclosures...this is the best I have seen. Enclosures, noise specs, and closed loop are some things that should be demanded from the county in their new code. Even in the best of circumstances, this example below may be the best that anyone can expect here in NM, short of directional drilling from a remote consolidated location."

Farmington Urban Well Pad Upclose

(Click on picture for larger view)

From a resident in the Farmington area about picture: "Here is a shot of tank and housing on the pad from a different angle with with house roof showing in back. Backing out of the garage goes right up against the fence. People in Eldorado and Santa Fe need to know this could happen to them with much less protection and mitigation unless they can get really good codes in place."

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Oil and Gas Exploration in Santa Fe County

(Click images for larger views.)
In April, residents along the Galisteo Creek were alarmed and puzzled by the clouds of dust rising from the long lines of Schlumberger trucks winding down their road. But most of the activity down at the old oil well was cloaked in vague euphemisms, and guards kept the curious neighbors far away from the activity of the crews fracturing the formation under the well. The large amounts of hydrochloric acid poured into that well in the ‘80’s probably corroded the casing and chemical reactions hampered the flow of oil. Now they have the old, leaky casing repaired, and after new rounds of chemicals and thousands of barrels of water pumped into the formation, they hope to have the high quality oil flowing again. The exploration company is eager to drill more wells. They have secured mineral leases stretching from southeast of Galisteo, through the entire Ortiz Mining Grant, and then to sections north of the San Marcos Pueblo Grant.

Yes, they did find oil and gas back in the ‘80s. Three large production units covering hundreds of square miles were proposed. These units stretched from ten miles north of Agua Fria, back down the Sandoval County line, and included most of the San Marcos and Galisteo communities. But the boom turned to bust when prices plummeted. They ran into problems perforating and acidizing the hard rock formations in the exploratory areas south and west of Santa Fe. There was no pipeline to transport the natural gas. Now there is a proposed gas pipeline that would follow the Lamy railroad tracks back to the main pipeline along I-25. They plan to transport the oil in caravans of tanker trucks to refineries west of Albuquerque.

In the ‘80s exploration companies drilled several wells along Galisteo Creek and one near Bonanza Creek. Another well was drilled northeast of the San Marcos Pueblo Grant. They also drilled northwest of the village of Agua Fria, and a well was drilled near Goldmine Road. A geologist has written about the cores of those wells and theorized that the Santa Fe Embayment, as it has been called, could be as lucrative as the San Juan Basin, which now provides billions of dollars in revenue for the oil companies from thousands of wells drilled in northwestern New Mexico and southern Colorado. However, some are skeptical. According to studies published (Albuquerque-Santa Fe Rift)( Bruce Black) over the last twenty five years, Santa Fe County contains at least three geological formations with millions of barrels of high grade oil. These experts also estimate that other formations could contain trillions of cubic feet of natural gas. Unfortunately, petroleum is found in the ancient basins that provide our limited water resources and hold the fragile habitat for wildlife and the remains of ancient civilizations.

Landowners south and southwest of Santa Fe are now learning that the mineral leases under their property take legal precedent over their surface rights. If the State or Federal governments own the minerals, some internet research (Go-Tech) will probably tell you what oil exploration company might be contacting you. However, if your minerals are privately owned and passed down through generations, it is a difficult project to discover who now controls those mineral rights. The exploration company that secures the mineral rights under your land still must negotiate and pay you some damages. But ultimately, the drillers can invade your property and bulldoze a large site, set up a waste pit (Waste Pit )( Oil & Gas Waste Disposal) , and begin to extract the minerals that they have leased.

New Mexico finally has a Surface Owners Protection Act that became law on July 1. But that act needs to be strengthened. It offers no protections for the neighbors and the community. This law still allows the rights of the mineral estate to take precedent over your rights as the owner of the surface. If you live within a few miles of oil and gas production as it is now carried out in New Mexico, the noise, the air pollution, and the potential water contamination will impact the value of your property and your way of life. Unfortunately, your neighbors may negotiate agreements to keep the noise and pollution away from their water wells and homes, but you might have the drilling rig and subsequent production facilities near your home and water well. Too many water wells in New Mexico have already been contaminated by oil and gas exploration and production. Landowners in Colorado have made some progress. On May 30, 2007, the Governor signed a new Surface Rights Act that brings surface rights in Colorado closer to equal status with mineral leases.

There is an opportunity now to urge Santa Fe County to strengthen their regulations to prevent some of the damage and health hazards that this level of oil and gas exploration and production has inflicted on our neighbors in northwestern and southeastern New Mexico. Ultimately, the state government must enact the environmental protections afforded residents of other states. Oil and gas resources can be exploited without the damage now allowed.

The Oil Conservation Division, our state agency charged with maximizing and regulating oil and gas production, has recently attempted to control the dumping of hazardous waste and is now attempting to write new regulations to minimize toxic pit pollution. Industry is pushing back. The New Mexico Oil and Gas Association sued the state over attempts to control the dumping of hazardous waste and is now fighting hard to weaken proposed regulations to control the pollution from toxic pits. New Mexico is at a crossroads. Santa Fe County officials need to hear from well-informed citizens, and we can be a part of that process that finally demands the strictest environmental protections.

* Where will the millions of gallons of water come from that are
turned to waste with every well drilled.
* Is Santa Fe County prepared for the constant fire danger from
flaring the toxic gases produced by oil wells and transporting flammable hydrocarbons?
*Will there be zoning to keep the constant noise and hazards of drilling
and production far away from water wells, homes, and aquifers?
*Will neighbors be notified of applications for drilling permits in their area?
*Will the many miles of roads that accompany this possible scale of drilling be
built correctly and maintained properly?
*Will drilling under or through our aquifers or near our water wells be absolutely prohibited?

There are several organizations working to educate the public and assist local governments grappling with the explosive growth in oil and gas exploration in New Mexico. Learn more about the threats to your air and water, your quiet nights, and peaceful country roads. Learn how to negotiate protections for the surface of your land. Here is a good place to start: (Oil and Gas Accountability Project).

Contact your county commissioner (Santa Fe County Commissioners). The link also has the district map. Ask your commissioner to regulate oil and gas to the fullest extent of the law and to demand that the county conduct a governmental hydrogeological study before considering issuing drilling permits.

Disclaimer: The views expressed are those of Drilling Santa Fe.

Want to know more about the history of oil and gas exploration in Santa Fe County?
Want to hear more about the exploration plans for Santa Fe County?
Want to learn about surface owner rights?
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Then, email:

For OCD - Well Reports:

Click here for EMNRD direct access. Then click "Well Files." Then go to "County" and select from the drop down menu "Santa Fe." Then click "Continue." Done.

Link to the OCD site is on the Drilling Santa Fe website under Educational Links.