Thursday, October 30, 2008


Fort Worth Weekly :

Ashford: “I just hurt in general, and I find myself getting angry.” Photo by Naomi Vaughan.

"Concerns are mounting over health effects of gas drilling.


Charles Morgan can’t sleep at night. The low-frequency noise from the 11 gas compressors at an Anadarko facility about a mile from his home in the little Freestone County community of Lanely gives him such bad headaches that he frequently has to take a motel room to get away from it. Sometimes he just gets into his pickup or Volkswagen and drives to a country lane elsewhere in the county to get free of it. On other occasions he’s found himself in the hospital emergency room.

“The noise has ruptured one of my eardrums,” said the 65-year-old former Air Force major, who recently retired from his engineer’s job with the Texas prison system. “The pain in my head gets so bad I think I’ll die. My legs start jumping. My blood pressure goes sky high.”

What Morgan suffers from is vibroacoustic disease (VAD), described in Noise and Health, a respected international journal, as a “whole-body, systemic pathology,” marked by “[d]epressions, increased irritability and aggressiveness, a tendency for isolation, and decreased cognitive skills,” among other symptoms.

It’s brought on by excessive exposure to low-frequency noise, the kind you hear in airplanes, near wind turbines, and from natural gas compressor stations. It’s not well known in this country, and the leading researchers on it work in Europe. But it’s real.

Jim Ashford, who lives in the upscale gated community of Riverbend Estates in East Fort Worth, suffers from it as well. “I can’t sleep. I just lie in bed awake listening to that noise,” he said. The noise comes from three Chesapeake compressors about 2,700 feet from his house. “And because I can’t sleep, I’m irritable. I just hurt in general, and I find myself getting angry and snapping over things that I shouldn’t.”

Gwen Lachelt, director of the Oil and Gas Accountability Project, which works with urban and rural communities and tribal groups “to protect their homes and the environment from the devastating impacts of oil and gas development,” says noise abatement is a very important issue and is getting more important “as drilling gets closer to — and in Fort Worth’s case, comes into — urban areas.” The group has already convinced regulators in Colorado to take the noise issue seriously.

But VAD isn’t the only health problem that those in the vicinity of oil and gas operations need to watch out for. Two recent studies by the University of Colorado School of Public Health suggest that gas drilling and its accompanying activities, including compressor stations, may cause serious health problems for those nearby — that is, pretty much everyone in Fort Worth.

The researchers found that “neighborhoods, schools, and workers in close proximity to oil and gas activities may be at increased risk for cancer, cardiovascular disease, asthma, and other disorders,” due to industry pollutants. It’s critical, they said, for more study to be done on those dangers.

“There are so many areas of gas drilling that have long-term potential to affect the public health,” Lachelt said. “What chemicals are actually being used in the drilling and fraccing of wells? What emissions are coming off compressors and being released into the air? What is being evaporated from drill site pits, and how much harm will it do to people and animals in the long run? How much contaminated waste-pit water will wind up in our surface water and earth? There are just a host of issues that are not being studied and need to be studied if we’re going to get our arms around the danger these wells and everything connected with them might pose to people.”

Fears in North Texas seem to be increasing as more and more people report health problems that seem to be related to drilling — and find little in the way of regulation or real answers as to what the dangers are. At Fort Worth Weekly, the questions and worries arrive by e-mail and letter frequently. Some report noise-related health problems and worry about compressor-station emissions. Many have found their well water ruined and wonder what toxins they ingested before the levels got so high as to make the problem noticeable by sight and smell." More>>>>

"New Mexico Turn Around" and Oil & Gas/Mining Industry Contributions

Interesting. There have been 15 contributions totally $215,500.32 to New Mexico Turn Around. The contributions were mostly given by the extractive (oil & gas and mining) industry. From the New Mexico Turn Around website:

"Why would citizens who love the State of New Mexico, nonetheless, demand that it be turned around?

It is one thing to enjoy the topography, the vegetation, the climate, the cultural diversity and the green chili stew, and quite another to be content with low per capita income, a marginal public education system, perennial blossoming public corruption, and the overreaching and inept state and local governments. What’s wrong with New Mexico? Muchas cosas, and we need to change them. We need to turn New Mexico around. Consider the following, and join the effort."

Mining ordinance urged

"Oct 29, 2008 (Ruidoso News - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- To protect Lincoln County's natural resources and the health and safety of its residents, an ordinance regulating mining exploration and excavation should be approved, proponents argued last week.

Steve Sugarman with the law firm of Belin & Sugarman, which specializes in public lands and water issues, said the U.S. Supreme Court already established the right of counties to impose conditions and regulations on mining operations on federal land, as long as they are not prohibitive.

Speaking to county commissioners last week on behalf of Friends of the Capitans, he cited a New Mexico Appeals Court decision that specifically called on counties to regulate development issues tied to mining and not covered by federal or state law, such as traffic, noise, dust, compatibility to adjacent land use and the effect on surrounding property values.

He presented ordinances less voluminous than Santa Fe's approach that were passed in Washoe County, Nev., and Mono County, Calif., for use as possible models on which to base an ordinance for Lincoln County." More>>>>

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

New energy development in NM could boost revenues

Santa Fe New Mexican/Associated Press:

"SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — State Land Commissioner Patrick Lyons says New Mexico should pursue new energy exploration and development as a way to combat the state's financial woes."...

..."Lyons says new oil and gas production as well as coal and uranium mining on state trust land would generate royalties that would help public schools and universities." More>>>>

Meanwhile, the stock market has plunged and people are fearful about the economy. However, in New Mexico, there are so many clean, distributed and renewable energy opportunities that could give people jobs locally and help boost governmental revenues. That would be the better path. Yet, Pat Lyons gives the same old knee jerk call to "drill, baby, drill" and "mine, baby, mine."

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Inside an explosive situation

A concerned citizen, Linda, sent this disturbing article along with highlights, which are posted at Common Ground United as "Inside an explosive situation." The article begins,

"For Christine Mortensen, it's the headaches. Ms. Mortensen and her husband run a cattle operation near Tomslake in northeastern B.C. and live across a gravel road from an EnCana compressor site that, on occasion, flares gas 24 hours a day.

At those times, Ms. Mortensen is plagued by headaches that sap her energy and that she's convinced are related to emissions from the EnCana stack.

So she can imagine how someone might be frustrated enough by a gas operation to want to blow it into smithereens. Imagine – but not understand." More>>>>

Cattle rancher Christine Mortensen stands near a flare from an EnCana compressor site next to her property that she says is giving her headaches.

Cattle rancher Christine Mortensen stands near a flare from an EnCana compressor site next to her property that she says is giving her headaches. (John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail)

Santa Fe County Commissioners Become Bloggers

The Santa Fe County commissioners have begun blogging at

Friday, October 24, 2008

Secretary Prukop Asks BLM for New Environmental Impact Statement on Otero Mesa

This is good news, especially in the era of "drill, baby, drill." Yates Petroleum is the biggest lease-holder in the Otero Mesa.

New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department News Release:

Contact: Jodi McGinnis Porter, Public Information Officer 505.476.3226

Secretary Prukop Asks BLM for New Environmental Impact Statement on

Otero Mesa

Asking BLM to Withdraw Its “Environmental Assessment/Decision Record and Finding of No Significant Impact”

SANTA FE, NM –State Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department Secretary Joanna Prukop, officially protested the federal Bureau of Land Management’s environmental impact statement that would allow for oil and gas exploration at Otero Mesa.

Otero Mesa encompasses approximately 1.2 million acres of Chihuahuan Desert; it is a unique and special place with an ecosystem that is home to rare desert grasslands, herds of pronghorn, prairie dog villages, mule deer, aplomado falcons and more than 345 of the world’s 1,500 cacti species. The rains that occurred this summer have carpeted the landscape with abundant diverse native plant species that characterize this important desert type. Native wildlife species respond in kind. This is the last remnant of the Chihuahuan Desert ecosystem in our country.

Prukop said the Bureau of Land Management is using old data, and should prepare a new Environmental Impact Statement to address changed circumstances in the region, such as groundwater contamination.

“We’d like the Bureau of Land Management to withdraw its decision” said Secretary Prukop. “We’re asking the BLM to prepare a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, since some of the data used is as old as 1997. They need to take a hard look and address new information and changed circumstances, as required by federal regulation and by their own BLM Policy.”

Federal regulations, as well as the BLM’s own policies, require that the BLM revisit significant environmental issues involved with the proposed exploration of the Otero Mesa region in light of new information and circumstances of which it is now aware and that did not exist when the original Environmental Impact Statement was prepared.

This new information is especially pertinent to the cumulative impact analysis as to habitat fragmentation and wildlife, and to the potential contamination of groundwater (the Salt Basin Aquifer). The New Mexico Energy Minerals and Natural Resources Department has placed the BLM on notice twice for the potential; if not likelihood, for groundwater contamination in the Otero Mesa area if appropriate, preventive measures are not implemented.

In the appeal, Secretary Prukop addresses the BLM’s failure to abide by federal regulations, enacted pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act, by not providing a 30-day public review period of the proposed “Finding of No Significant Impact” prior to making a final decision that no Environmental Impact Statement was necessary in this case. Secretary Prukop contends that this constitutes a procedural error.

The entire Request for Administrative Review with Oral Presentation by New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department Regarding Bennett Ranch Unit #6, EA #NM-030-2006-161, Environmental Assessment/Decision Record and Finding of No Significant Impact is attached below. The Exhibits can be found and downloaded at:

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Putting On the Green Suit

A wonderful article on natural gas speculation:

Fort Worth Weekly :

"Around the country, Chesapeake CEO Aubrey McClendon talks the environmental talk, but …"


October 22, 2008


"But in many ways, McClendon’s spending has brought him no joy — or at least not the love of the populace. In place after place, his projects have caused consternation and fierce local opposition, from big cities to the “gay dunes” on the shore of Lake Michigan. Despite his “green” initiatives, environmental groups have little good to say about him. And when things turn ugly, or the profit possibilities disappear, McClendon takes his bat and ball and goes home, turning out the lights on the party — or on the basketball arena, in Seattle’s case, or the Shale.TV studios here.

Now, as gas prices drop, the profit possibilities are starting to dim for Chesapeake in North Texas and in many ways for McClendon’s fortunes in the gas industry in general. Chesapeake’s stock price, which had reached about $74 per share in July, dropped steadily through the summer to about $16. McClendon had invested massively in Chesapeake stock, much of it bought on credit, and two weeks ago, his lenders rang the alarm bell. He was forced to sell virtually all of his shares at bargain prices — which may have cost him as much as $2 billion of that $3 billion net worth.

Publicly, McClendon blamed the forced sell-off on the worldwide economic meltdown, but oil and gas industry analysts saw it differently. “They didn’t learn from history,” said Fadel Gheit, managing director of oil and gas research for Oppenheimer & Co., in an interview with an Oklahoma City TV station. “It was a business model based on unrealistic price expectations. Parties don’t last forever.”' More>>>>

I want my vote to count, but will it?

The High Country News
Writers on the Range
Essay - October 22, 2008 by Laura Paskus

Please check out the latest article by Laura Paskus, "I want my vote to count, but will it?"

"Just the other morning, I mailed off my absentee ballot. I'd carefully colored in all the ovals, signed it, smacked on a stamp and tossed that baby into the mailbox. Civic duty done? Maybe not.

Last month, for example, New Mexico's secretary of State had to admit that incorrect information had been mailed to more than 11,000 voters in five counties. That might not be considered too much of a slipup, until you consider that in the year 2000, in New Mexico, Al Gore beat George Bush by a mere 366 votes. In 2004, Bush defeated John Kerry by some 6,000 votes.

Of course, we all remember Florida and its hanging chads and a 5-to-4 Supreme Court decision to stop the recount. (To those still bemoaning the consequences of Ralph Nader's presence on the Florida ballot: A Washington Post investigation found that Gore would have taken Florida had the recount proceeded.)" More>>>>

Also, Laura has an interesting post at Environmental News for New Mexicans...and other Southwesterners about a story in the San Antonio Current by Greg Harman, "Occult energy futures." She says "read it and weep. (Literally.)"

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Sunday, October 19, 2008

OPEC left to its own devices

Commentary: Hedge fund redemptions lay bare the role in oil speculation

The following First Take is real-time analysis and opinion by the MarketWatch commentary team.

SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) -- The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Nations has called an emergency meeting for Oct. 24 aimed at halting a precipitous drop in oil prices.


"As the industrial world withdraws into a recessionary shell, it takes oil demand with it. China and India's insatiable thirst for oil looks meager now as factory output slows to a trickle.

But there's also been a rush of roving capital out of the market. According to the latest data from Hedge Fund Research, third-quarter hedge fund redemptions hit a record-high $210 billion, spearheading an exodus wealth that burst one of the biggest commodities bubbles of all time. See full story.

It's no coincidence that oil prices plunged in tandem with these record withdrawals, exposing for all to see just how much of the summer's oil-price spike was driven by speculators.

While oil's deep "correction" alarms Big Oil, it's even more alarming to producing nations whose economies are entirely grounded in petro-dollars.

The extreme pain caused by this sudden revenue loss can be gauged by OPEC's decision to move up their next meeting from November to October, less than two weeks ahead of the U.S. presidential election. This raises the likelihood of another severe tongue-lashing by a politically supercharged Washington, but that's clearly better than enduring further losses.

This time, however, OPEC is on its own."

Where Does the US Import Oil and Other Petroleum Products From?

With all of the clamoring, "drill, baby, drill" to supposedly wean the United States off of foreign oil, what about the other side of the import/export equation?

The Oil Drum :

We all know that the United States is an importer of petroleum products. The United States is also an exporter of petroleum products, primarily to Mexico and Canada. Both of these countries send us crude oil, and we export refined products back to them. We often hear that Canada and Mexico are our largest sources of petroleum product imports, but is this really true if we net out exports? Canada remains number 1 on when we net out exports, but Mexico drops to fifth place in 2008. (Mexico drops to third place in 2008, without netting out exports, because of its declining volume.)

Figure 1: US Net Imports of crude oil and petroleum products, based on EIA data. 2008 is July 2008 YTD value....


...We have been exporting more refined products in recent years, with the big recipients being Mexico and Canada. For all countries combined, this is the EIA graph of US petroleum products exports.

Figure 4: EIA Graph showing US exports of petroleum products.

Our biggest exports to Canada in 2007 were residual fuel oil, 32,000 bpd; crude oil, 27,000 bpd; and coke, 23,000 bpd. To Mexico, our biggest exports in 2007 were gasoline, 101,000 bpd; coke, 47,000 bpd; and distillate, 34,000 bpd. Of these, residual fuel oil and coke are byproducts that we have an excess amount of. Coke is used as a substitute for coal.

Clearly, exports have been growing rapidly. A few years ago, one could make the argument that exports were immaterial, and could be ignored. It seems to me that one needs to consider the combination of imports and exports in analyses today.

Robert Rapier wrote related post in April 2008 called US Oil and Gasoline Import Statistics.


Given the other side of the import/export equation, not only does it not make sense to expand destructive hydrocarbon extraction campaigns, but we need to look at the adverse impacts of oil refining in the United States as a refiner nation.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Galisteo Proposal Panned

By Phil Parker
Journal Staff Writer


'"The county can be proud of this path-setting ordinance for counties throughout New Mexico and the country," said Steven Sugarman. "The commissioners spent untold hours meeting with us. That said, it's a great start, but imperfect."

Sugarman said there are resources in the basin — affecting water and wildlife — that should be considered so important they're out of bounds. Under the plan, the high-sensitivity areas are permitted 1.6 well sites; moderate- and low-sensitivity areas get 4.8 wells and 6.4, respectively.

Sugarman suggested zero would be better in some cases.

"I'm not seeing absolute protection of the most important zones in the county," he said. "Seven wells (on the maps) are proposed in high-sensitivity zones. Those are specifically where oil drillers want to be" because of the properties of the ground there.

Full article (subscription required)>>>>

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Drilling: Criticism wanes as proposal evolves

County Commission won't see draft until Nov. 18

Phaedra Haywood | The New Mexican

- 10/17/08
"The geyser of public concern that erupted when Tecton Energy announced plans to drill for oil in the Galisteo Basin last year seems to have slowed to a trickle of dogged stakeholders.

About 800 people packed the Santa Fe High School gymnasium last year to discuss Santa Fe County's early attempts at drafting regulations to govern the oil and gas industry. Only about 100 people attended Thursday's County Development Review Committee hearing on the latest version of those regulations.

The tone was decidedly different, too.

Last year's crowd booed, hissed and berated county officials. This time the audience repeatedly thanked officials and planners for their dedication to the task of protecting county residents and resources from the potential impacts of hydrocarbon production."

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Journal Poll: Most in N.M. Back Drilling

By John Fleck
Copyright © 2008 Albuquerque Journal
Journal Staff Writer

"New Mexicans want expanded energy production from more aggressive offshore drilling, allowing drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and building new nuclear power plants, according to a Journal Poll."

For perspective, please review the following:
Drilling Santa Fe posts:

Oil Drilling in Environmentally Sensitive Areas: The Role of the Media

The cruel offshore-drilling hoax, part 1

Has the market spoken on "drill, baby, drill"?

The false premise of "drill, baby, drill" perpetuated

Common Ground United posts:

Offshore drilling is fool's black gold
Increased Oil Drilling: How does it help again?
Offshore Drilling and Automobile Fuel Economy: The Relative Impact on Oil Production
Offshore drilling = drilling for a ‘drop in the bucket’
Drilling not the solution

The poll begs the question, were those who were polled fully aware of the facts?

Friday, October 10, 2008

Gas drilling companies backtracking

The River Reporter :

By TOM KANE This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

PENNSYLVANIA — Two gas companies, Chesapeake Appalachia and Range Resources, have announced a cut back on parts of their operation in Pennsylvania.

Chesapeake Appalachia has sent letters out to Northeast Pennsylvania landowners that it has revoked and rescinded offers to obtain more leases. The company said that the action was due to regulatory issues and to the current economic downturn.

Chesapeake Appalachia’s parent company, Chesapeake Energy Corporation, announced plans in its third-quarter financial report to reduce its drilling capital expenditure budget during the second half of 2008 through year end 2010 by approximately $3.2 billion, or 17 percent, in response to an approximate 50 percent decrease in natural gas prices since June 30. The company’s CEO, Aubrey McClendon, said he is concerned about the possibility of an emerging U.S. natural gas surplus in advance of increased demand from the U.S. transportation sector.


Tecton hints at Galisteo Basin sale

Critics of Houston-based company say county's draft ordinance pivotal in decision

"Tecton Energy, the Houston-based company that applied for permits to drill in the Galisteo Basin last winter, might be trying to sell its mineral leases in the area.

Last week, Meagher Oil and Gas Properties Inc., a divestiture firm serving the industry, began listing Tecton's leases on more than 100,000 acres in the Albuquerque Basin and 75,000 acres in the Santa Fe Hagen Embayment, which includes the Galisteo area.

William Dirks, president of Tecton, said the company has been "seeking investors to join us in this basin since 2006." The company isn't necessarily backing out of New Mexico. "We are looking for a potential partner who wants to invest their (own) capital to continue the drilling opportunities," he said.

But Julia Foster of Meagher in Denver said, "They're looking to sell the property."'

Tecton Energy leased mineral rights for oil and gas exploration of 75,000 acres in Santa Fe County. Tecton has listed these and other acres with Meagher Oil and Gas Properties, Inc. for divestiture. How will the next oil and gas speculators address the Santa Fe County Oil and Gas Ordinance?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Tecton Energy Operating, LLC listed on Meagher Oil and Gas Properties, Inc.

Tecton Energy, LLC has listed the Santa Fe Hagaen Embayment play on Meagher Oil and Gas Properties, Inc. From the Meagher website: "Company Profile: Founded in 1985 by Matthew E. Meagher, Meagher Oil & Gas Properties, Inc. (MOGPI) is a nationally recognized acquisition and divestiture firm.

MOGPI is an industry leader in negotiated acquisition and divestiture services.

Recognizing that clients need to focus their strategy and staff on core business areas, MOGPI's complete range of divestiture services is designed to effectively and economically manage the divestiture process on behalf of our client. MOGPI is headquartered at Inverness Park in Southeast Denver with regional offices in Tulsa, Oklahoma and Houston, Texas, all of which are staffed with highly qualified and experienced energy personnel."

The listing reflects: "Concept proven with Tecton Ferrill #1 well (currently shut-in and included in package)," which is in the Galisteo Basin in Santa Fe County. For production records of this well, click here. It produced 27 barrels of oil in the last four months of 2007 before being temporiarly abandoned. Also reflected in the listing
  • "75,000 net acres – primarily fee leases
    • Leases in state and county imposed force majeure until 12/31/2008
  • Tecton has applied for 3 drilling permits after moratorium ends"

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Pit Contamination of New Mexico Ground Water and Bob Gallahger of the New Mexico Oil & Gas Association (NMOGA)

In an October 5th Farmington Daily Times article, "New regulations, fees slow down drilling production," "(p)roducers challenged the figures then, and continue to do so. They're joined by New Mexico Oil and Gas Association President Bob Gallagher, who recently filed an Inspection of Public Records Request demanding proof of the numbers.

"If they have the validation, we will absolutely take the blame," he said. "The proof's in the pudding."

The group convenes in Santa Fe today for its annual meeting. Gallagher wanted to present its members with the state's documentation, but found out last week the state could not comply with its public records request until Wednesday.

"I am sure the fact that the 8th is the day after our meeting adjourns is only coincidental as was the setting of the final Pit Rule hearing, the day after the Legislative session adjourned," he said."

The New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department sent a letter today to Bob Gallagher, President, New Mexico Oil & Gas Association with instructions on how to access the information from the Oil Conservation Division (OCD) website. Please open the letter for the instructions.

According to OCD, there are "369 confirmed cases in which pit substances contaminated ground water in New Mexico....our (OCD) latest count is 475 pits contaminated ground water, which are associated with these 369 confirmed cases. " In short, multiple pits associated with these cases. These cases are mostly in San Juan County.

Please read, "
Setting the Record Straight on the Pit Rule, by Cabinet Secretary Joanna Prukop with the New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The false premise of "drill, baby, drill" perpetuated

From the Santa Fe New Mexican, "Domenici emphasizes drilling in talk:"

"Santa Fe attorney William Carr, with Holland & Hart, said the strong reaction by Santa Fe County to proposed drilling in the Galisteo Basin, and a subsequent moratorium, were examples of the "not in my backyard" attitudes seen increasingly around the nation. Yet at the same time, Americans are upset about rising fuel prices and the dependence on foreign oil, he said. The state Oil Conservation Division is supposed to protect the environment, but also not allow the waste of oil or gas, he said.

A new draft oil and gas ordinance in Santa Fe County, which greatly limits drilling in the Galisteo Basin, risks crossing into areas already regulated by the state, Carr contended. "This ordinance is not directed at public safety and health," Carr told the crowd. "It is aimed at preventing drilling in their backyard."

"The notion that there's not going to be a (legal) fight over this is false," Carr said." More>>>>

Not only does Carr miscategorize the intent of the ordinance, his statements seem to perpetuate the false premise of "drill, baby, drill" to decrease gas prices. See previous day link:

Drilling not the solution

Monday, October 6, 2008

Drilling not the solution

Wyoming Business Report :

By Brodie Farquhar

"October 3, 2008 -- CASPER - Headwaters Economics, a Montana-based, independent think tank, is casting doubt on the conventional wisdom that more drilling will result in lower prices at the gas pump for consumers.

The non-profit research group kicked off Energy and the West in late August - an ambitious, nine-part series of economic analysis and case studies that consider the impact of energy development on states, counties, and communities, from the perspectives of economic performance and fiscal health. The series, on the Internet at, is emerging once a week.

"Rather than generate a giant report, we broke it up into nine pieces," said Ray Rasker, executive director of the group. Rasker said economic research and government data indicates that while the country is largely self-sufficient in natural gas and coal, petroleum, however, is another matter entirely.

"The U.S. has 2.4 percent of the world's known oil reserves," said Rasker. Even if there was a magic straw that could withdraw all that oil overnight, he said, it isn't enough to make the U.S. into a price center or price influencer on the world stage.

"And yet, according to national polls, the average citizen believes that drilling more will lower prices at the pump," he mused.

The price of oil isn't based so much on geology, he said, but on a complex mix of politics, policy, world demand and events."...

..."Local impact varies

Rasker's group also looked at how the energy boom impacts state and local economies (U.S. Energy Needs and the Role of Western Public Lands ), noting that "In the five energy-producing states of the West, energy is a relatively small portion of the economy, with the exception of Wyoming. The percent of total personal income from people employed in energy development is as follows: Colorado (2.2 percent), Montana (2.6percent), New Mexico (3.1 percent), and Utah (1.4 percent). The state the most focused on energy development is Wyoming (13.7 percent of total personal income). It is also the least economically diverse state in the nation (the most reliant on a single industry), and therefore the most vulnerable to change."'


Sunday, October 5, 2008

Has the market spoken on "drill, baby, drill"?

With all of the "new technology" the oil and gas industry touts, which primarily is to enhance extraction as opposed to protecting the environment, there is an increase in costs. "ConocoPhillips' Zent said the company considers a potential well's reserves, its initial flow rate, economic analysis and rate of return as it's considering whether or not to drill.

"We have tight rock here with low-pressure reserves (in the San Juan Basin)," he said. "Directional drilling adds 30 to 80 percent additional costs to a well,"' the Daily Times.

Yet, industry is whining about regulations that help mitigate damage to the environment, such as the Oil Conservation Division's "Pit Rule," which was adopted to reduce groundwater contamination from oil and gas drilling. Not only is industry in denial about pollution, it is clamoring for more deregulation.

Peak oil and peak natural gas have ushered in an era of unconventional extraction that requires horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing. Such extraction can be more destructive and environmentally damaging than conventional techniques. The reserves that can be conventionally extracted are rapidly depleting.

Industry is complaining that drilling permit applications are down in the San Juan Basin. Their solution, to deregulate -- a defacto subsidy. As with the finance industry, the oil and gas industry must be held accountable. If drilling permit applications are down due to the higher costs of unconventional extraction, lower futures prices that quell speculative appetities, and responsible regulations, then the market has spoken. It is time to move to clean, renewable energy -- now.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Two Tusten moratoriums

The River Reporter :

NARROWSBURG, NY — The Tusten Town Board unanimously voted to impose moratoriums on two separate matters after public hearings on September 29.

One moratorium was a six-month halt on seismic testing, which is done to help gas companies determine the best places to drill for natural gas.

Vehicles known as thumper trucks or shaker trucks perform the tests by sending shock waves into the ground and measuring the waves as some of them bounce back from underground formations. Typically, the tests are performed on road surfaces.

Tusten supervisor Ben Johnson said that a representative from a seismic testing company had inquired about testing in the town, and was concerned about the location of the pipes for the Narrowsburg water district.

The moratorium will give the town board time to study various issues. Not only are the integrity of the water district, roads and building foundations of concern, but there are also questions about who owns the information being collected by the seismic testers.

Tusten property owners own the land under some of the town roads and the town has easements to maintain the roads. There is a question as to whether property owners should be compensated for information collected below ground on land they own.


Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Industry Pumps Up Oil Conservation Criticism

Albuquerque Journal:

By Joanna Prukop
Secretary, Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department

Just a few months ago, the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association commended the state for working with industry to come up with a “palatable” compromise that allows for drilling while accomplishing Gov. Bill Richardson's goal of protecting the environment.

Now, the association is on the attack. The group's president, Bob Gallagher, is accusing the state Oil Conservation Division — the public entity in charge of regulating oil field pits — of everything from hiding public documents to being too aggressive.

Exactly what happened between Gallagher's support in May for the compromise rules and this ludicrous campaign to discredit the state regulators who oversee his industry?

The answer is: Nothing. The New Mexico Oil and Gas Association apparently never intended to support any type of regulation that cuts into its profits and provides accountability for endangering the environment.

State officials have done everything possible to involve the public and work with all affected parties, including the oil and gas industry, to craft a responsible rule that governs the regulation of oil field pits. That's why Gallagher's claims that the state is hiding documents, or driving business out of state, are ridiculous.

He is flat out wrong when he claims that OCD is refusing to release documents regarding ground water contamination caused by oil field pits. The generalized record of ground water impact sites from oil and gas operations has been posted online for three years.

Most division records, including the information regarding pit-caused groundwater contamination, are completely open to the public. More than 4 million documents have been posted online including: well files, well logs, administrative and environmental orders, hearing orders and case files. The information, files and evidence are available to the public at:

Gallagher attempts to downplay the potential dangers of oil field pits, suggesting that the state is exaggerating instances of ground-water contamination. In doing so, he ignores the potential risk posed by releases of pit fluids. Drilling fluids are oil field waste, and often contain components that can be harmful. The Oil Conservation Division conducted a pit sampling program in 2007 where each sample was shared with industry for evidence for the Pit Rule Hearing. The Division documented the presence of dozens of toxic material in pit contents, including heavy metals, chlorides, and hydrocarbons.

In October 2006, the Oil Conservation Commission adopted Surface Waste Management Rules to protect public health and the environment from the risks associated with the remediation of contaminated soils at landfarms and the disposal of oil and gas waste in landfills. The industry claimed the rules were arbitrary and capricious, but three different courts have upheld the regulations.

Gallagher also questions the source of the state's documentation on ground water contamination when he knows full well that most of these incidents were self-reported by the industry. Laboratory analyses of the contamination are the responsibility of the operators, not the Oil Conservation Division, and the results become part of the public record.

The Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department understands and appreciates the enormous economic contributions the industry makes to New Mexico.

But let's not forget that the record profits are funded by citizens paying ever-rising prices at gasoline pumps and for natural gas bills while struggling to make ends meet. These citizens demand and deserve clean drinking water, and they expect the state and industry to work together to protect that precious resource for generations to come rather than leaving a mess to be cleaned up by future taxpayers.