Wednesday, November 26, 2008

How one group opposed to drilling in Santa Fe County sees the new ordinance (Podcast)

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SANTA FE (2008-11-26)

-- Nov. 26 -- Today's the deadline for submitting comments about the draft Oil and Gas Drilling element of the Santa Fe County ordinance. Among those submitting comments is Eriz Jantz of the Southwest (New Mexico) Environmental Law Center, based in Santa Fe. We asked him what he likes and maybe didn't like in the draft.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Santa Fe


Santa Fe – November 25, 2008 – The Santa Fe County Development Review Committee will hold a Special Meeting to begin the General Plan Update process on Thursday, December 4, 2008 at 5:00 PM at the Santa Fe County Commission Chambers located at 102 Grant Avenue. Santa Fe County is requesting public participation to update the County Growth Management/ General Plan. The revised General Plan will update previous planning documents, provide a long-range vision of the County, and define goals, policies, and strategies to achieve that vision.

Santa Fe County General Plan Update

The goals of the update include addressing growth and development patterns, housing, economic development, natural and cultural resource protection, transportation, public facilities and services, and other important issues.

The County has created four Growth Management Areas: El Norte, El Centro, Galisteo, and Estancia. The County will hold Public Meetings in early 2009 in each Growth Management Area to address countywide issues and will hold community meetings to gain input for each Area. For more information, call 986.6215.

# # #


Stephen Ulibarri

Public Information Officer


Dick Cheney and Halliburton: Hydraulic Fracturing Chemicals in YOUR Drinking Water.

Daily Kos
by TXSharon

Tue Nov 25, 2008 at 06:27:05 AM PST

Cheney Helped Halliburton Hide Secrets About Dangerous Chemicals in America's Drinking Water. Please recommend so others will have this information!

Hydraulic fracturing (fracing) is a drilling technique that was developed by Halliburton. Millions of gallons of fresh water, along with sand, and cancer-causing and toxic chemicals are injected under high pressure miles down the drilling hole to fracture the limestone shale and release the oil and gas trapped within.

In 2005, at the urging of Dick Cheney, former Halliburton CEO, Congress exempt fracing from the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) as part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. In 2001, Cheney’s energy task force report "touted" benefits and ignored consequences. His office was "involved in discussions about how fracturing should be portrayed in the [EPA] report." Halliburton earns about $1.5 BILLION annually from hydraulic fracturing. (Ibid)" More>>>>

Santa Fe County Board of County Commissioners Adoption of the Oil & Gas Ordinance

December 9th
Board of County Commissioners Public Hearing
Meeting begins at 3:00PM; County Commission Chambers, 2nd Floor, County Administration Building, 102 Grant Avenue

Adoption of Oil & Gas Ordinance Vote will be on the Agenda

Common Ground United tracking link>>>>

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Santa Fe County Oil & Gas Draft Ordinance Comment Period Cut Off Date & Time

In order for comments to be considered/incorporated in the next draft, they will need to be submitted by November 26 at 5 p.m.

The County can't guarantee that the consultant team will be able to incorporate comments received after that date in the draft that the BCC will consider on December 9.

For review and to make comments:
Revised Draft Ordinance>>>>

Submit comments to Santa Fe County Attorney, Stephen C. Ross,

Parting Gifts

Santa Fe Reporter

Enviros brace for Bush’s last acts

By: Laura Paskus 11/18/2008

Mexican Gray Wolf The Mexican gray wolf has been protected under the Endangered Species Act.

"It’s fair to say the Bush administration has wreaked havoc on the nation’s environmental laws, opened up previously closed areas to energy development and actively thwarted regulations meant to protect clean air and water.

Now, in a rush to further relax environmental rules and deregulate oversight, the Bush administration is pushing a number of rule changes to take effect before Inauguration Day. These include easing restrictions on power plants, allowing factory farms to skirt the Clean Water Act and weakening toxic emissions standards for oil refineries, among other things."...

..."Another rule recently proposed by the Bush administration would allow federal agencies, such as the Bureau of Reclamation or Department of Energy, to approve their own projects without input from the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the agency charged with overseeing how projects might affect rare plants and animals. The proposal would amend the 35-year-old Endangered Species Act and, according to Nicole Rosmarino, wildlife program director of WildEarth Guardians, be little more than a “parting gift to industry.”

If finalized, Rosmarino says the regulation would allow the Bureau of Land Management to authorize oil and gas drilling without considering impacts on endangered species; the Forest Service could do the same with logging and drilling projects; and the Bureau of Reclamation could operate dams regardless of how they might affect endangered fish.

Furthermore, on Nov. 14, the US Department of the Interior published its final rule regarding cleanups of abandoned mines. The rule sends $4 million in grant money for the reclamation of abandoned mines to New Mexico—yet stipulates the money must be used predominantly for coal mines, despite pleas from state officials that this prevents or hinders cleaning up other sites, such as uranium mines." More>>>>

Santa Fe County Oil & Gas Element Adopted

Last evening, the Santa Fe County Board of County Commissioners (BCC) adopted the Oil & Gas Element. The Oil & Gas Ordinance will go through more revision and be on the BCC agenda for adoption December 9th. The Ordinance will have to be compatible and consistent with the adopted Element. The revised Oil & Gas Element and Ordinance are posted in the top right panel of the Drilling Santa Fe blog. To track the process, go to Common Ground United and Santa Fe Planning & Growth Management websites.

Some brief notes from the Tuesday BCC meeting:

Dr. Freilich listed three scenarios as legal challenges to county authority:
  • State statutes to not allow counties to regulate.
  • Implied preemption by occupation of a field.
  • Implied preemption by conflict with state statutes.
The lawyer and hydrologist for the Ortiz Mine Grant, Inc. are taking issue with the ordinance. (The Ortiz Mine Grant minerals have been leased to Tecton Energy Operating, LLC for exploratory oil and gas drilling.) They claim that the limited drilling hours amount to a "no drill zone." However, see the Farmington Daily Times article, "Next-door gas drilling upsets residents," which states that Farmington has a city law that allows drilling within 500 feet of a home only during the day." Would Farmington be considered a "no drill zone"?

The same lawyer and hydrologist also have issue with the offsite monitoring wells. They also want to weaken the ordinance for exploratory drilling, also known as "wildcatting." The proposed "wildcatting" of the Galisteo Basin is what has led to the ordinance in the first place. Why adopt an ordinance to protect the fragile ecosystem of the Galisteo Basin and then circumvent it with provisions for wildcatting?

Please watch for an action alert for after the final draft has been posted by the County and consultants. Revisions to the ordinance should strengthen, not weaken.

On December 11th, the Oil Conservation Division (OCD) will conduct a public hearing for the Special Provisions for Santa Fe County and the Galisteo Basin. For tracking, go to Common Ground United. After reviewing the OCD draft, Dr. Freilich said that the County Ordinance is not in conflict with OCD. The two entities may regulate the same field as long as they are not in conflict.

County document details drilling rules

Extensive list will guide development

Phaedra Haywood | The New Mexican


"The Santa Fe County Commission approved one of two draft documents Tuesday aimed at regulating oil and gas activity in the county.

The approved document — called the Santa Fe County General Plan Oil and Gas Element — is an amendment to the county's general plan.

The purpose of the plan is to guide the county in making land-use and development decisions related to oil and gas activity.

It consists of two main elements.

One is a modeling and suitability component that considers approximately 27 factors — including the habitats of animals and birds, the prevalence of archaeological sites in an area and proximity to water sources — to delineate zones of high, moderate and low sensitivity to oil and gas development. Extraction activity in each zone would be limited depending on the level of sensitivity.

The Oil and Gas Element also sets forth standards for infrastructure, such as roads and fire protection, that would be required to accompany oil and gas development.

The commission delayed voting on a related draft ordinance which details the specific submittals and studies the county will require from anyone seeking oil and gas drilling permits in Santa Fe County. The commission will vote on the ordinance Dec. 9." More>>>>

State sets hearing for Galisteo Basin


"The Oil Conservation Commission has scheduled a public hearing on proposed rules for oil and gas drilling in the Galisteo Basin.

The hearing will be Dec. 11 in Santa Fe.

Officials say people wanting to recommend changes in the proposed rules must do so by Nov. 24 and those wishing to submit written comments have a deadline of Dec. 3.

The commission says the goal of the proposed rules is to establish a new process for evaluating and regulating exploration and development in the Galisteo Basin, which is described in an executive order from Gov. Bill Richardson as a "fragile and ecologically sensitive area."

Richardson earlier this year imposed a moratorium on drilling in the basin that is set to expire in January 2009."

Stricter Drilling Rules Proposed

Albuquerque Journal North

" Stricter Drilling Rules Proposed

By Raam Wong
Journal Staff Writer

State regulators are proposing new rules that would require oil and gas companies to jump through more hoops before they can drill in the Galisteo Basin.

The rules — which would apply only to the basin and Santa Fe County — would mark a significant change from how the Oil Conservation Division evaluates drilling applications.

Currently, operators submit applications for individual wells — that means the division does not weigh the cumulative impact of multiple drilling sites on an area. Moreover, the OCD's focus in considering applications is on correlative rights.

In other words, it makes sure a would-be operator does not take more than its fair share of oil or gas.

The rules put forward this month would take a more holistic approach. Operators would have to submit a plan identifying their best guess for what part of the area will be productive, as well the number and location of the exploratory wells.

The company would also have to produce information about the region, including a report detailing the area's soils, geology and water.

And while drilling permits are usually handled administratively, under the Galisteo Basin rules, the plan would need to go before a public hearing. After that, the division director could give the green light or impose conditions meant to prevent waste and protect correlative rights, as well as protect fresh water, human health and the environment.

The proposal was developed in response to Tecton Energy's controversial proposal to drill exploratory wells in the basin. Residents fear drilling there could pollute water, ruin the scenic landscape, devalue homes and bring more truck traffic to the area.

Gov. Bill Richardson responded in January by ordering new regulations to protect the basin's resources and residents.

The executive order led to a report this summer that raised many concerns about drilling, including its potential impact on water and archaeological sites.

The report underscored the need for state regulators to “know more details before approving a drilling plan for the Galisteo Basin,” said Joanna Prukop, secretary of Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department.

The Oil Conservation Commission is scheduled to consider the rules at 9 a.m. Dec. 11 at Porter Hall, 1220 S. St. Francis Drive." More>>>>

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Follow up to BCC posts

This is a guesstimate from the County:

"The Regular Agenda begins at 2 pm and oil and gas is on that part of the agenda. The public hearings start at 6 pm. Beyond that, it's difficult to predict. It should be televised live, so you can always follow along on TV (Comcast Channel 28) and then come downtown when we get close. My guess is that it won't be heard until late afternoon/early evening. They will take a dinner break around 5.

This meeting is so crammed with items, it's really difficult to predict the start time."

BCC Meeting today to begin at 2:00pm

According to the Santa Fe County Public Information Officer, Steve Ulibarri, the BCC meeting will begin today at 2:00pm. The meetings can be montiored through cable TV. See below:

From the County website :

Meetings & Agendas - Board of County Commissioners

The Board of County Commission meetings are scheduled on the second Tuesday of each month for the Public Hearing Meetings and the last Tuesday of each month for the Administrative Meetings. The agenda is available the Thursday before the Board meeting and amendments to the agendas are available twenty-four hours prior to board meetings.


Board of County Commissioners Meetings On Air: Comcast Channel 28 - 1st and last Tuesday of the month @ 10:00 AM or 3:00 PM (check local listings)

Meeting Notes: Santa Fe County is now providing meeting notes for our BCC Meetings. Please note that the Meeting Notes in italics are draft items until approved by the BCC. Our meeting notes will be provided in PDF format which can be viewed with Adobe Acrobat.

- Items marked with an asterisk (*) denotes a special meeting or otherwise non regularly scheduled meeting by the BCC or the respective committee.

Monday, November 17, 2008

What time does the Santa Fe County Board of County Commissioners meeting begin?

From an email sent to the County this evening:

For the CGU tracking
, I did a cut-n-paste from Planning Works:


November 18th
Board of County Commissioners Public Hearing 3:00; County Commission Chambers, 2nd Floor, County Administration Building, 102 GrantAvenue


The Amended Agenda now states


(Public Hearing)

November 18, 2008 – 2:00 pm


Yet, Planning Works now has the following:

November 18th
Board of County Commissioners Public Hearing
1:00; County Commission Chambers, 2nd Floor, County Administration Building, 102 Grant Avenue


Question: When does the BCC meeting begin? 1:00pm? 2:00pm? 3:00pm? I also understand that there is no specific time when the Oil & Gas Element and Ordinance will come up on the agenda. Many citizens can not get off of work to attend these meetings during business hours. Please clarify.


From the Santa Fe New Mexican:

"County mulls drilling ordinance

The Santa Fe County Commission will consider a draft ordinance and general-plan amendment aimed at regulating oil and gas drilling activities in the county at its regular meeting today.

The ordinance was prompted by an announcement by Tecton Energy in the fall of 2007 that it planned to explore for oil in the Galisteo Basin. The county has paid contract attorneys and planners more than $300,000 to date to develop the draft regulations.

The County Development Review Committee has already held two public hearings on the proposed ordinance.

The issue is also slated to be heard at the commission's December meeting. But County Attorney Steve Ross said Monday that the issue is on the agenda as an action item and could legally be approved today.

The meeting begins at 3 p.m. in the County Commission Chambers, 102 Grant Ave."

Santa Fe County Oil & Gas Element and Ordinance / OCD Special Provisions for Santa Fe County and the Galisteo Basin

Important meetings and comment periods!

November 18th (Tomorrow)

Board of County Commissioners (BCC) Public Hearing

3:00; County Commission Chambers, 2nd Floor, County Administration Building, 102 Grant Avenue, Contact: Steve Ross, County Attorney ( (map: )

*Adoption of Santa Fe County Oil & Gas Element and Ordinance*

There is not a specific time on the agenda for the O&G portion (see Item VIII. F., Matters from the County Attorney: The drafting and adoption of the ordinance is coming down to the wire. At the next meeting, it is possible that the BCC will adopt the revised draft. However, the vote could be at a later BCC meeting depending partly on public comments. Your presence and comments are very important!


As for the State level, Governor Bill Richardson issued an Executive Order directing the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department (EMNRD) to work with other agencies to draft *Special Provisions for Santa Fe County and the Galisteo Basin*. The Oil Conservation Division has posted the "Notice."

December 11, 2008

Oil Conservation Division Public Hearing

9:00 A.M., Porter Hall, 220 South St. Francis Drive, Santa Fe New Mexico (map: )

Please note that public comments will be taken at the meeting, which do not have to be technical.

In addition, accroding to an EMNRD News Release: Any person wanting to recommend modifications to the new proposed sections must file a notice of recommended modifications, complete with the text of the recommended modifications, an explanation of the modifications’ impact, and the reasons for adopting the modifications. The deadline is 5:00 p.m. on Monday, November 24, 2008.

Any person wanting to file written comments on the new proposed sections must submit them by the deadline at 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, December 3, 2008.

Written comments, pre-hearing statements and notices of recommended modifications may be hand-delivered or mailed to Ms. Florene Davidson at 1220 South St. Francis Drive, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87505, or may be faxed to Ms. Davidson at (505) 476-3462."

Link to EMNRD News Release

Folks. Both the OCD special provisions and the County ordinance are extremely important! Please attend these meetings. Please make comments.

OCD Notice

OCD Application for Rule Amendment


To track the Oil & Gas Element and Ordinance, go to:

Common Ground United

Drilling Santa Fe

Santa Fe County

Planning Works


To track the OCD Special Provisions for Santa Fe County and the Galisteo Basin:

Common Ground United

Drilling Santa Fe


Public meeting for community input regarding changes to the Mora County DGS

Drilling Mora County Email Alert;

A Public meeting for community input regarding changes to The Developmental Guidance System (DGS), the planning and zoning regulations that currently protect the Mora Valley will be held:

WEDNESDAY NOVEMBER 19th @ 6pm, Mora School Board Room, Mora High School


Got dirty, destructive "unconventional recovery"?

The IOGCC (Interstate Oil & Gas Compact Commission), whose chair is Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, is in Santa Fe for an annual meeting dubbed, "The Challenges of Unconventional Oil & Natural Gas." The challenge is for those who have to live with the adverse impacts.

A blogger at Oklahoma Energy made an interesting post about the event. Some quotes are as follows:

"It (unconventional recovery) generally involves getting product from rock or tight sands, requires horizontally-drilled wells, and requires hurculean efforts to fracture the reservoir rock to pull the product out of the ground.

It costs more to get on a per-barrel or per-thousand cubic feet basis than oil or natural gas from vertically-drilled wells, meaning its development depends upon attractive prices for companies to achieve acceptable returns on their investments.

This week, it also is the titlel (title) of the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission’s annual meeting, meaning that’s what the conference will focus on."

Please note that "hurculean" should be "herculean." According to Websters, it herculean means, "of extraordinary power, extent, intensity, or difficulty." These herculean efforts in fragile ecosystems is a recipe for destruction.

"Enbridge is helping to meet that challenge, she said, by building $12 billion of expansions underway in North America to get oil from Alberta’s Oil sands and the Bakken Shale oil field south into Illinois and even to refineries on the Gulf Coast. Meanwhile, the company is working to get natural gas from the Barnett Shale in north Texas to other parts of the country."

$12 billion could go a long ways in alternative energy development, but industry wants to keep pushing the fossil fuel addiction.

'“As dicussion begins in our nation’s Capital about energy independence, the IOGCC needs to be – must be — right in the middle of that discussion,” Henry said. “Unconventional oil and gas issues are a critical component of that discussion.”'

That sums up the problem. The fossil fuel industry is always in the middle of our governmental affairs promolgating the agenda of big oil and gas. How about IOGCC go to the margin of the discussion? At times, that is where the environment and surface owners' rights have been placed.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Next-door gas drilling upsets residents

This article highlights the need for monitoring and enforcement:

— By Steve Lynn — The Daily Times

"FARMINGTON — Claudia Miller is frustrated that an oil and gas company accused of illegally drilling at night next to her home will go unpunished.

Work on the XTO Energy Inc. gas well kept her up at night, vibrated her home and filled it with bright light and diesel fumes during "two weeks of torture," she said.

The company drilled 24 hours each day for 10 days, she said, and a city official wrote a letter to the company scolding it for allegedly breaking the law.

"A slap on the hand?" she asked city councilors at a meeting last week. "That's not good enough."

People who live next to the wells say they are upset XTO Energy won't face any kind of sanctions after residents and the city contend the company unlawfully drilled at night next to homes at Escalante Trail and Foothills Drive.

City officials acknowledged at a City Council meeting Tuesday that the company broke city law, which allows drilling within 500 feet of a home only during the day. Officials apologized to residents.

A representative of XTO did not return phone messages requesting comment.

The incident has raised questions as to how the city will enforce future Chapter 19 violations, the part of city law that regulates oil and gas drilling.

"We do continue to wrestle somewhat as a staff as to who's responsible to enforce what provisions," said City Attorney Jay Burnham, who did not know the company violated the law until the drilling finished.

"That means that my city Assistant City Manager Bob Campbell said city staffers will develop new procedures to respond to Chapter 19 violations. The city could, for example, hire a person to regularly patrol and enforce laws at oil and gas sites." More>>>>

Friday, November 14, 2008

Buried Secrets: Is Natural Gas Drilling Endangering U.S. Water Supplies?

Pro Publica:

"New Mexico has placed a one-year moratorium on drilling around Santa Fe, after a survey found hundreds of cases of water contamination from unlined pits where fracking fluids and other drilling wastes are stored. "Every rule that we have improved...industry has taken us to court on," said Joanna Prukop, New Mexico’s cabinet secretary for Energy Minerals and Natural Resources. "It’s industry that is fighting us on every front as we try to improve our government enforcement, protection, and compliance…We wear Kevlar these days.”' More>>>>

Current drilling ordinance gains support

"Committee recommends version that makes developers meet extensive requirements

When Santa Fe County — spooked by the specter of impending oil and gas development — first began writing new regulations to govern the industry, the county's public information officer said the county would probably get sued no matter what type of ordinance it developed.

The no-drill attitude of many of the residents of Santa Fe County combined with the must-drill track record of the energy industry, Stephen Ulibarri reasoned in the fall of 2007, was bound to result in a situation in which neither party could be satisfied and one would legally challenge whatever the county approved.

The county Development Review Committee voted unanimously Thursday to recommend that the County Commission approve the most recent version of the evolving oil and gas ordinance being developed by contract planners and attorneys. By Ulibarri's logic, that puts Santa Fe County one step closer to a lawsuit.

But land-use attorney Robert Freilich, one of the primary authors of the proposed regulations, assured the committee Thursday that the ordinance he and his team had written was legally defensible. "We think there is very little basis for a facial attack on this ordinance," Freilich said." More>>>>

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Monday, November 10, 2008

Energy Self-Reliant States: Homegrown Renewable Power

Download Full Report

"Executive Summary

Energy Self-Reliant StatesHow much energy could be generated by states tapping into internal renewable resources? To date, no study has addressed this question comprehensively. This report is a first attempt to do so.

The data in this report, while preliminary, suggest that at least half of the fifty states could meet all their internal energy needs from renewable energy generated inside their borders, and the vast majority could meet a significant percentage. And these estimates may well be conservative.

A national renewable energy policy should reflect the unique distribution of these energy sources. Wind and solar and, to a lesser extent, biomass, can be found in abundance in virtually all parts of the country. A federal policy that focuses on harnessing local renewable resources for local markets could dramatically expand the number of communities and states economically benefiting from the use of renewable fuels while minimizing the transportation-related environmental impact of moving energy products long distances.

Yet current federal energy policy is largely focused on harnessing renewable energy in a few states and transporting it hundreds or even thousands of miles to customers in other states.

The rationale for this reliance on long distribution lines is that while renewable energy is widely distributed, the resources and cost of harnessing them vary widely state-by- state.

That is true. Agricultural states in the heartland can grow biomass in larger quantities and at a lower cost than states on the coasts. A state like Nevada has significantly more annual solar energy than Oregon. North Dakota’s high wind speeds translate into lower production costs.

However, while significant variations in renewable energy among states exist; in most cases, when transmission or transportation costs are taken into account, the net cost variations are quite modest. Homegrown energy is almost always cheaper than imports, especially when you factor in social, environmental and economic benefits.

Policies that encourage energy self-reliance at a state and even in many cases a local level could enable communities and regions to achieve economic and environmental goals simultaneously. It’s a win-win situation.

The New Rules Project -

Questions? E-mail the Webrarian"

Sunday, November 9, 2008

West Side Groups Hope To Cash in on Aquifer Find

Albuquerque Journal :

By Sean Olson

Journal Staff Writer

"Sandoval County is riding high after the discovery it is sitting on a bonanza of clear gold in the Rio Puerco basin, but the find could pay dividends to West Side groups with similar ideas.

Atrisco Oil and Gas, a company formed to manage the mineral rights of the Atrisco Land Grant heirs after selling their land to SunCal Cos. two years ago, announced in July it was looking to mine brackish water on its former land and sell it wholesale. The Atrisco heirs still have mineral rights on the land as part of the sale agreement with SunCal.

Peter Sanchez, Atrisco CEO, said Wednesday he was encouraged to see Sandoval County announce it had found enough brackish water to serve a city with 300,000 people for 100 years.

"They're sitting on a gold mine," he said.

For Atrisco and other groups, Sandoval County's success can only help them find financing to get their own projects under way.

Sanchez said Sandoval County has paved the way for his own project, which could be very profitable for the Atrisco heirs if they find even a quarter of the water their neighbors to the north plan to tap.

Atrisco is already in talks with five different organizations — both government and private — to find a financial partner to move forward with its water mining, Sanchez said.

Due to Sandoval County, he said, there isn't any more need for a sales pitch.

"It helps our cause," Sanchez said.

The Atrisco heirs may have a fight on their hands with SunCal, however: The company last month filed an application with the State Engineer's office maintaining it is the sole owner of the brackish water underneath its land, under its agreement with Atrisco.

Another West Side entrepreneur, Paul Powers, has said he plans to take 10 times as much water out of the ground as Atrisco from his own land in the Rio Puerco Valley within the Pajarito land grant.

Both Atrisco and Powers' company, Commonwealth Utilities, have yet to determine the exact amount of brackish water located deep underneath their land or mineral holdings. The state engineer does not have jurisdiction over the water because it is located more than 2,500 feet underground.

But there are still plenty of obstacles for all the water pioneers." More>>>>

In the Santa Fe New Mexican, see the article, "Documentary explores Southwest water issues."

Saturday, November 8, 2008

National Congress of American Indians urges new protections for sacred places

The Narcosphere :

NCAI urges new protection for sacred places, while Homeland Security seeks to keep secret the digging up of Native American graves during construction of the border wall

By Brenda Norrell

"PHOENIX - The National Congress of American Indians urged the US Congress to create a statute that would protect Native American sacred places and burial grounds from the onslaught of development, intrusion and desecration and to strengthen existing laws to protect Native Americans' freedom of religion, in a resolution passed during its 65th annual convention.

The American Indian Religious Freedom Act was enacted into law 30 years ago in 1978 to protect the religious freedom of Native people. However, the Supreme Court ruled 20 years ago that neither the Act, nor the US Constitution, provided for a course of action to truly protect Native Americans right to worship in their traditional manner. The Supreme Court said Congress would need to enact a statute for that purpose. Congress has not done so.

The American Indian Religious Freedom Act states that "it shall be the policy of the United States to protect and preserve for American Indians their inherent right of freedom to believe, express, and exercise the traditional religions of the American Indian, Eskimo, Aleut, and Native Hawaiians, including but not limited to access to sites, use and possession of sacred objects, and the freedom to worship through ceremonials and traditional rites."

Native Americans say, however, there is no current mechanism to ensure protection of sacred places or religious rights in court. Further, they say there is too little prosecution of violators of sacred places, burial places and cultural items.

Recently, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act failed to protect two sacred places in court, San Francisco Peaks and Snoqualmie Falls. In the case of San Francisco Peaks, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed its earlier decision and ruled that sewage water could be used for snowmaking on the mountain sacred to 13 American Indian Nations. On this sacred mountain, one of Four Sacred Mountains to the Navajo or Dine', medicine people hold ceremonies and gather healing plants. Hualapai and Hopi spiritual leaders were among those speaking out against the desecration.

NCAI said, "It is time for Congress to enact a right of action for tribes to defend sacred places. Unless tribes can sustain lawsuits, they will not have a seat at federal negotiation tables and agencies and developers will continue to disregard existing consultation requirements. Meaningful consultation and respectful negotiations can obviate the need for litigation. However, if negotiated accords cannot be reached, tribes must be able to protect their holy places in court."

The NCAI resolution also pointed out that universities are violating Native American graves, in development and museum content."...

..."In related resolutions, NCAI passed resolutions supporting a moratorium on exploration and oil and gas drilling in the Galisteo Basin of New Mexico; supporting protection of the Zuni Salt Lake in New Mexico and supporting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was adopted Sept. 13, 2007, by the General Assembly of the United Nations.

In its resolution of support, NCAI said, "the declaration by the United Nations supports and reinforces the respect and protection of full self-determination rights by and on behalf of US Tribal Nations as well as the protection of tribal lands and treaties as a matter of international law and policy and is therefore in the vital interests of all US Tribal Nations."' Entire article>>>>

NCAI resolutions:

TITLE: To Support Moratorium on Exploration and Oil and Gas Drilling in the Galisteo Basin of New Mexico

Santa Fe County Oil & Gas Ordinance Status

The next CDRC (County Development Review Committee) meeting, November 13th, is posted below and at Common Ground United. Although the ordinance is groundbreaking, the cliché-ridden phrase “the devil is in the details” is apropos. In a letter to the County on behalf of Drilling Santa Fe, the New Mexico Environmental Law Center wrote, "(we) further urge you to recommend to the BCC (Board of County Commissioners) that it adopt a cautious and measured approach in finalizing the Ordinance, including an extension of the moratorium if necessary."

The County and the consultants are working hard on the oil & gas ordinance, as well as other plans. So, if you have input about the ordinance, please send your input as quickly as possible to the County Attorney Steve Ross, by email, , or by snail mail, 102 Grant Ave Santa Fe, NM 87501-2061. There needs to be time to edit and proof the ordinance. It needs to be done right.

As soon as the revised draft is available, it will be posted at Drilling Santa Fe (DSF), Common Ground United (CGU), the Santa Fe County Oil and Natural Gas Drilling Ordinance, and Santa Fe County Planning & Growth Management websites. Additionally, the Power Point presentations from the CDRC meeting, November 6th, should be available soon and posted at all of these sites.

Democracy is not a spectator sport.

SunCal Makes Claim for Brackish Water

Albuquerque Journal:
Saturday, November 08, 2008
By Sean Olson
Journal Staff Writer

"SunCal Cos. is now claiming sole ownership of brackish water beneath its West Side property, a claim Atrisco Oil and Gas made in July.

In an application to the Office of the State Engineer filed late last month, SunCal claims it retains all water rights on its land under an agreement with Atrisco signed in December 2006. The agreement was part of a $250 million deal for SunCal to buy the land formerly held by the Atrisco land grant heirs in its corporate successor Westland Development Co.

Atrisco CEO Peter Sanchez said New Mexico water law is clear that the water source belongs to Atrisco.

"I think their claim is an example of some of the confusion right now due to the lack of law and jurisdiction over these issues," Sanchez said." More>>>>

Friday, November 7, 2008

Santa Fe County Amenda CDRC Agenda 11/13/2008

November 13th
CDRC Meeting
4:00; County Commission Chambers, 2nd Floor, County Administration Building, 102 Grant Avenue

· Presentation of the final draft of the Oil & Gas Element and Ordinance

· Recommendation of the CDRC to the Board on the Oil & Gas Element and Ordinance

· Introduction of the Growth Management Element


Meetings & Agendas - County Development Review Committee

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Santa Fe County Oil & Gas Ordinance Schedule

As of October 30,2008, according to the Santa Fe County Planning & Growth Management website:

November-December Public Hearings Schedule:

There will be several opportunities in November and December for public involvement in the revision and adoption of the Oil and Gas Element, Oil and Gas Ordinance and Growth Management Element. The following meetings and hearings of the County Development Review Committee (CDRC) and the Board of County Commissioners (BCC) will be open to the public, and participation is encouraged.

November 6th
CDRC Meeting
4:00; County Commission Chambers, 2nd Floor, County Administration Building, 102 Grant Avenue

· Technical Presentations by the County Hydrologist, Geologist and Petroleum Engineer

· Overview of proposed changes to the Oil and Gas Element and Oil and Gas Ordinance

November 13th
CDRC Meeting
4:00; County Commission Chambers, 2nd Floor, County Administration Building, 102 Grant Avenue

· Presentation of the final draft of the Oil & Gas Element and Ordinance

· Recommendation of the CDRC to the Board on the Oil & Gas Element and Ordinance

· Introduction of the Growth Management Element

November 18th
Board of County Commissioners Public Hearing
3:00; County Commission Chambers, 2nd Floor, County Administration Building, 102 Grant Avenue

· Adoption of Oil & Gas Element and Ordinance

December 4th
CDRC Meeting
3:00; County Commission Chambers, 2nd Floor, County Administration Building, 102 Grant Avenue

· Presentation of the final draft of the Growth Management Element

· Recommendation of the CDRC to the Board on the Growth Management Element

December 9th
Board of County Commissioners Public Hearing
4:00; County Commission Chambers, 2nd Floor, County Administration Building, 102 Grant Avenue

· Adoption of Growth Management Element

Last Updated ( Thursday, 30 October 2008 )
Download Draft Plan & Ordinance

Download the draft Oil & Gas Element of the General Plan here (PDF - 11.5MB).

Download the draft Oil & Gas Ordinance here (PDF - 2.94MB).

Last Updated ( Monday, 27 October 2008 )