Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Rio Arriba County Special Use Permit Applications to Drill Update

The Rio Arriba County Board of County Commissioners decided to postpone on the decision about the drilling permits. The reported issue is that Approach Operating, LLC did not know from where the water for drilling would come.

Related post:

Rio Arriba County Special Use Permits to Drill for Oil and Gas

Monday, December 21, 2009

(San Miguel) County Wants Drilling Rules

Front Page north

County Wants Drilling Rules

Albuquerque Journal--> By Jessica Dyer
Journal Staff Writer

"San Miguel County officials know their county's energy-generating possibilities will soon spark interest, and they want to be prepared for all comers.

After watching other northern New Mexico communities race to get drilling ordinances in place with prospectors already at the door, San Miguel officials are getting proactive. The County Commission on Jan. 12 will vote on a proposed one-year moratorium on applications for permits to explore or excavate for oil, gas or geothermal energy. County attorney Jesus Lopez said the moratorium will allow the county time to draft an up-to-date and more thorough drilling ordinance than the one now in place.

The current ordinance — adopted in 1986 — requires a county permit for any drilling activity but has been deemed by officials as inadequate. Lopez said there are no drilling applications through the county now but "because it's happened in Rio Arriba and Santa Fe, we figured it's right around the corner and we might as well get on it."

Santa Fe County enacted its own drilling ordinance last year, while Rio Arriba County adopted its ordinance last spring.

County Manager Les Montoya said the move was prompted at least in part by news that the Santa Fe Opera recently had leased out 27,000 acres of mineral rights in Mora and San Miguel counties for oil and gas drilling. The rights were donated to the opera by a benefactor.

"We kept hearing this and that, so we thought we better look at the ordinance," Montoya said.
County commission chairman David Salazar said the county's present regulations are minimal when it comes to drilling and don't focus enough on safety — especially on the safety of the county's water supply.

"Water is one of the major things we have problems with," he said. "Any contamination would really hurt our county."

Montoya said having enough good water is an ongoing issue within the county. The city of Las Vegas, he said, has faced "very strict" water conservation ordinances for most of the last decade because its relies so heavily on surface runoff that hasn't been particularly plentiful.

"We have limited supplies at this point, and we need to do what's necessary to ensure the quality and quantity," he said." More>>>>

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Rio Arriba County Special Use Permits to Drill for Oil and Gas

Rio Arriba County is not unfamiliar with oil and gas drilling. From the 1980's to 2008, Rio Arriba County, New Mexico had reportedly 7,597 oil and gas wells. In 2009, more than 400 additional wells have been or are intended to be drilled. In May 2009, Rio Arriba County adopted an oil and gas ordinance in regards to Approach Operating, LLC targeting the water-rich, fragile ecosystem of the Rio Chama Watershed for exploratory drillings (aka, "wildcatting"). Up to this time, the oil and gas drilling had primarily been the San Juan Basin portion of Rio Arriba County.

In addition, the County protested to the New Mexico Oil Conservation Commission (OCC) 24 applications to drill (APDs) by Approach Operating , LLC. In July 2008, Governor Richardson directed the OCD to draft special rules for oil and gas drilling in certain areas of Rio Arriba County (i.e., Tierra Amarilla and portions of the Rio Chama Watershed). This did not occur. Subsequently, Approach Operating, LLC sought dismissal of the case and the County agreed.

Presently, the Oil Conservation Division (OCD) has approved eight APDs and Rio Arriba County Planning and Zoning Committee has recommended for approval three special use permits for five oil and gas wells in the Rio Chama Watershed of Rio Arriba County. On December 29, 2009, the three County permits will go before the Rio Arriba Board of County Commissioners in Tierra Amarilla. The public meeting is scheduled to begin at 1:30pm:

Rio Arriba County:

For Contact, please go through the ESPANOLA OFFICE
1122 Industrial Park Rd
Espanola, NM 87532
Phone: (505) 753-7774
Fax: (505) 753-4732

The meeting will be held at the TA OFFICE:

PO Box 127
Tierra Amarilla, NM 87575
Phone: (575) 588-7254
Fax: (575) 588-7810
Website: www.rio-arriba.org


Rio Arriba County Approach Operating, LLC Permits, Combined (3 permits for 5 wells)>>>>

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Has Natural Gas's Moment Come?

Wall Street Journal



"The U.S. Energy Information Administration predicts widening use of natural gas for power. In an outlook published Monday, the agency said natural gas will account for 46% of all power plant capacity additions from 2008 to 2035.

The abundance of gas is largely thanks to a new technique to unlock dense rock first tried successfully in the 1990s and early 2000s in the Barnett Shale under Fort Worth, Texas. Riding this success and fueled by cheap financing, energy companies fanned out across the U.S. in search of new fields.

What they found has fundamentally reshaped the industry's understanding of how much gas lay beneath the U.S. Huge new fields in Louisiana, Arkansas, Pennsylvania and elsewhere could give the country a 100-year supply of gas, a sharp reversal from earlier predictions that the U.S. would begin relying heavily on gas imported from overseas. After years of decline, U.S. gas production shot up 12% from 2005 to 2008.

One of the most unexpected signs of the growing comfort that gas is becoming a more stable commodity are the negotiations between producers and consumers over long-term contracts for gas supplies.

Larry Nichols, chairman and CEO of gas-producer Devon Energy Corp., said that in the past, companies were forced to search for new gas each year, making long-term contracts impractical. But the recent shale discoveries are different—they are huge and extremely reliable, meaning they can reliably strike multi-year commitments to provide gas. Devon, for example, has drilled 4,000 wells in the Barnett Shale without a single dry hole, and still has thousands of places left in the field to drill.

"There's certainly the potential for the natural-gas producers and the utilities to develop a new relationship that has not been possible historically," Mr. Nichols said." Aritcle>>>>

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Exxon Deal May Be Green Light for Shale

"Others may have to follow its $30 billion purchase of XTO, a company that specializes in fracturing rock with water and sand to make natural gas flow"

By Jessica Resnick-Ault

"(Bloomberg) — Exxon Mobil's (XOM) $30 billion purchase of XTO Energy (XTO), the largest U.S. petroleum takeover since 2006, may signal a wave of acquisitions as major producers seek to tap growing gas and oil output from shale formations.

Irving, Texas-based Exxon announced its deal yesterday, saying it plans to make XTO, the largest natural-gas producer in the U.S., the centerpiece of its global expansion in shale developments. XTO is among companies that drove a surge in U.S. fuel output by exploiting so-called shale plays, where rock formations are fractured with water and sand to make gas flow.

Exxon's stamp of approval on shale plays may be a watershed, encouraging companies that have already made investments in the segment to expand their positions, said Ryan Cournoyer, head of energy trading at Lighthouse Financial Group LLC in New York. The largest U.S. energy company also will help stabilize gas prices, making it easier for buyers and sellers to come together on acquisition values, he said.

"Exxon Mobil acquiring XTO is going to put a floor on natural-gas prices longer term," Cournoyer said. "These guys are finally coming out and acknowledging that they need to grow their reserves longer term."

Likely buyers include major oil companies that are struggling to boost output, such as Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Total (TOT), said Ted Harper of Frost Investment Advisors in Houston and Philip Weiss, an analyst at Argus Research Corp. in New York. They said takeover targets may include independent producers like Anadarko Petroleum Corp., EOG Resources (EOG), EnCana Corp., Ultra Petroleum (UPL), and Range Resources (RRC)." More>>>>

Monday, December 14, 2009

Underused Drilling Practices Could Avoid Pollution

"Asked why his company pursued "green" drilling and fracturing fluid innovations for drilling in the North Sea -- products that it now sometimes uses onshore too -- BJ Services' Dunlap was unequivocal: The law made him do it.

"It's because of local regulations," Dunlap said. "That's typically what drives us to develop and bring to market these environmentally friendly products."' Article>>>>

by Abrahm Lustgarten, ProPublica - December 14, 2009 12:00 am EST

Versions of this story were published in the Albany Times Union [1] and the Times Herald-Record [2].

Saturday, December 12, 2009

NM gas producers file complaint over rates

By SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN - Associated Press Writer - Associated Press

Friday, December 11, 2009

"A coalition of natural gas producers has filed a complaint with New Mexico regulators alleging that a Houston-based pipeline company is charging excessive rates for transportation services in one of the nation's largest natural gas basins.

The coalition argues that Enterprise Field Services LLP has increased its gathering rates in the San Juan Basin by 240 percent over the last several years and that New Mexico stands to lose nearly $440 million in direct tax and royalty revenues over the next 15 years as a result.

Gene Gallegos, a Santa Fe attorney representing the coalition, said Friday that rate increases for gas gathering services result in direct cost increases for New Mexico gas producers and that, in turn, affects tax and royalty payments made to the state.

"What you deduct from the wellhead price reduces severance tax, it reduces royalties on state leases and it reduces our share of federal royalties. That's a lot of money, and it couldn't be a worse time," Gallegos said.

New Mexico is facing a potential budget gap of $500 million to $600 million next year, and the revenue outlook is grim as the economy continues to sputter."


And even though the New Mexico Oil and Gas associations have been fighting regulations, such as the New Mexico Oil Conservation Pit Rule, the article continues, "Gallegos said the case could set precedent nationwide since fees charged by gas gathering companies go largely unregulated.

Federal jurisdiction starts with interstate pipelines at the outlet of processing plants. Everything between the wells and the processing plants is left up to states.

Gallegos said no one has complained about the lack of regulation until now. He explained that fees had held steady for decades until Enterprise purchased the basin's gathering system and raised rates four times in the last five years." More>>>>

Friday, December 11, 2009

(KSFR) Santa Fe development plan going through changes (Podcast)

(KSFR) -
-- Santa Fe's overall land development plan apparently is undergoing changes. County officials tell KSFR's Marion Cox that a meeting scheduled for Dec. 17 will be postponed because parts of the plan are not finished, after all. Cox reports that the officials are removing three parts of the existing plan that was thought to be near final approval. They include the oil and gas component, the section on community plans, and the capital improvements portion. Cox says it's not clear whether those elements will be reinserted in whole or in part. Listen. © Copyright 2009, KSFR

Link to podcast>>>>

(San Miguel) County moves toward oil and gas moratorium

Las Vegas Optic

By David Giuliani

"The San Miguel County Commission has taken its first step toward setting a year-long moratorium on oil and gas drilling permits while it enacts new regulations.

On Tuesday, the commission voted unanimously to publish the proposed moratorium and seek public comment.

As it stands, the county has about a half page of regulations for oil and gas regulations. That’s from a land-use ordinance in 1986 that’s about an inch thick.

County officials say they want a more detailed ordinance specific to oil and gas drilling. This is after oil and gas companies have taken steps toward drilling in Santa Fe and Mora counties.

No requests for permits for oil and gas drilling are pending before San Miguel County.

County Attorney Jesus Lopez said the current ordinance “very summarily and very scantily” addresses the issue of oil and gas permits, including the effects on water availability, the terrain and the environment.

“You don’t have an ordinance that adequately protects the health and safety of the people,” he said. “This is an issue of great concern, as it should be.”

Lopez said the county manager will have a year to get input and expert opinions and compile studies as he works to draft an ordinance. But he said it may well take longer than that.

Commission Chairman David Salazar said he understood that State Land Commissioner Patrick Lyons has already leased out lands around the county for oil and gas drilling. He wondered if state lands fall under the county government’s jurisdiction.

Lopez said the moratorium would apply.

“Any authority given to the State Land Office is still subject to local regulatory authority,” the attorney said.

The commission is slated to vote on the moratorium Jan. 12." More>>>>

Thursday, December 10, 2009

NM agency leader leaving for conservation job

"SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - The secretary of the state Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department is leaving Gov. Bill Richardson's administration for a job with a conservation organization.

Joanna Prukop is retiring at the end of the month and will become director of business for wildlife with a group called Freedom to Roam. It's a coalition of businesses and conservation groups that wants to protect wildlife corridors that allow animals to move from place to place.

Richardson announced Wednesday that Jon Goldstein will replace Prukop. Goldstein has served as deputy secretary in the Environment Department since 2007.

Prukop worked for the state Game and Fish Department for 26 years before joining the Richardson administration in 2003 as a cabinet-level agency secretary." Link>>>>

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

NM oil and gas agency warns of fewer inspections

"ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) -- The New Mexico Oil Conservation Division says it will have to reduce its routine field inspections by 66 percent this year as the state grapples with a budget shortfall.

Division officials have told legislators that fewer inspections could place the environment and groundwater resources at risk and that processing new drilling applications could be delayed.

The Oil Conservation Division regulates the oil, natural gas and geothermal industries in New Mexico. It's also responsible for preventing contamination from oil and gas operations and reclaiming past environmental damage.

Division director Mark Fesmire says he's down seven inspectors and looming budget cuts will make it impossible to fill those positions.

Fesmire says the priority will be to process new drilling applications while making sure environmental regulations are followed."

© 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Learn more about our Privacy Policy.


Monday, December 7, 2009


An interesting development in San Miguel County after oil and gas minerals have been leased in San Miguel and Mora Counties, including by the Santa Fe Opera:

On the San Miguel County New Mexico Board of County Commissioners meeting, December 8, 2009:


Background Information: At its October meeting, the County Commission directed staff to begin work on a moratorium relating to oil and gas exploration in the county. The Commission expressed concern that the County exists regulations in this area were very out-dated and needed to be revised and up-dated, and that during the revision and amendment process, a moratorium should be imposed. Following that direction, county staff proposes a Resolution allowing the Commission to consider at its January 2010 meeting, a moratorium ordinance.

Action Requested of the Commission: Adopt SMC RESOLUTION NO. 12-08-09-OIL&GAS, proposing the adoption of a moratorium ordinance for oil and gas exploration.

Staff Recommendations: Same as Action Requested, noted above.
Presenter: County Manager Les Montoya and County Attorney Jesus L. Lopez." Full Agenda>>>>

Friday, December 4, 2009

Big Oil's the Boogeyman in 'Split'

Albuquerque Journal North

Decembern 4, 2009

By Phil Parker

Of the Journal

'“Split Estate” presents a heartbreaking pastiche of physical and emotional woes wrought by the centuries-old law that enables energy companies to put drilling wells on the property of private landowners, so long as the companies hold rights to the minerals under the surface (they almost always do).

Just because you own your house or ranch, essentially, that doesn't mean you can keep Big Oil and Gas from having at what's underneath. And their process of extraction is invasive.

The film is timely and concise, and Santa Fe filmmaker Debra Anderson strikes a sweet balance between educating on the issue and tugging at our tear ducts. She interviews a toxicologist and a Ph.D. environmental analyst who explain plainly why chemicals used in drilling can be like poison for nearby landowners. She interviews flabbergasted men and women who have had, at least, their land violated by lawful drilling and, at worst, their health deteriorate dramatically because of that drilling.

Environmentalists will love the film.

Bob Gallagher hates it."

More (Subscription required, paid or free pass to the Journal North)>>>>

SPLIT ESTATE at Santa Fe Film Festival

Time: December 5, 2009 from 5:45pm to 7:45pm
Location: New Mexico History Museum
Street: 113 Lincoln Avenue
City/Town: SANTA FE
Website or Map: http://santafe.bside.com/20...
Phone: 505.988.7414
Event Type: film, screening
Organized By: Aaron Leventman, Bioneers

For flyer, click here>>>>

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

NM report says transmission key to renewable power

This is an issue to keep an eye on:

Washington Post

The Associated Press

Wednesday, December 2, 2009; 10:11 AM

"SANTA FE, N.M. -- New Mexico has huge potential to produce electricity from renewable sources but a small window to develop transmission lines to deliver that power to customers, a lawmaker said Tuesday after listening to a report on the issue.

The state Renewable Energy Transmission Authority presented its first statewide transmission report to an interim legislative committee. It covers everything from existing transmission lines, barriers to building additional lines and hot spots for electricity generation using wind, solar radiation and geothermal sources.

"The issue is transmission. If we don't have any more transmission, there will be no more renewable projects in the state of New Mexico and that is critical for our future. It's a multibillion-dollar opportunity," said Rep. Jose Campos, D-Santa Rosa.

The state will lose out to other states if it doesn't do something in the next three to four years, he said." More>>>>

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Preserve receives land donation

Santa Fe New Mexican, Local News in Brief:

"The Thornton family has donated 600 acres of open space to the Santa Fe-based nonprofit Commonweal Conservancy, a conservation-based community development organization.

The donated land, valued at $1.86 million, is in the center of the 13,522-acre Galisteo Basin Preserve.

The Commonweal Conservancy placed a conservation easement on the land and donated it to the Santa Fe Conservation Trust.

"This 600-acre gift ensures that the heart of the Galisteo Basin Preserve will be permanently protected," said Ted Harrison, president of Commonweal Conservancy, in a statement. "It is a gift that will be forever celebrated by residents and visitors to this remarkable region."

The Thornton family has been selling its ranch to the Commonweal Conservancy in phases since 2003. So far, the family has donated 9,135 acres for the preserve, most of which will be conserved as open space, including 50 miles of public hiking, biking and equestrian trails. The Santa Fe Conservation Trust will hold conservation easements over the preserve's larger open spaces to ensure their permanent protection. " Link>>>>

SPLIT ESTATE at Santa Fe Film Festival

Time: December 5, 2009 from 5:45pm to 7:45pm
Location: New Mexico History Museum
Street: 113 Lincoln Avenue
City/Town: SANTA FE
Website or Map: http://santafe.bside.com/20...
Phone: 505.988.7414
Event Type: film, screening
Organized By: Aaron Leventman, Bioneers

For flyer, click here>>>>

Santa Fe New Mexican, 10 Who Made a Difference, 2009

It is an honor and humbling to be recognized by the community as one who made a difference, but the honor belongs to the citizens for who were the ones that made a difference. Thank you.

Santa Fe New Mexican, "Johnny Micou, Guardian of Galisteo Basin."

Thursday, November 19, 2009

State, Santa Fe County tough on oil, gas restrictions

Posted the article that has some the inaccuracies.

New Mexico Free Press

Written by Brad Buck

"All but one county in New Mexico relies on state rules to regulate oil and gas drilling. (Not accurate. Mischaracterizes the Santa Fe County Oil and Gas Ordinance.)

That county? None other than Santa Fe County.

Neighboring Rio Arriba County is considering an ordinance to further restrict oil and gas drilling. (Rio Arriba County has an oil and gas ordinance.)

Here’s a little history on the stricter local regulations.

Houston-based Tecton Energy bought (leased) 65,000 acres of mineral rights in the Galisteo basin from which to pull oil and gas.

When Tecton started drilling for oil and gasoline in the fall of 2007, Santa Fe County officials put the kibosh on the idea (re-entered Black-Ferrill #1). County commissioners enacted a three-month moratorium on drilling until they could figure out how to control it.

After the moratorium passed, Tecton pulled out and its lease expired. (Not accurate.)

“It was an unusual event,” said Chris Fling, a partner in Tecton. “The citizens lost a lot: job opportunities, revenue.” (Not accurate.)

He described the state and Santa Fe County as “politicized” regulators.

Fling said he wishes Santa Fe County and the state would base their actions about oil and gas drilling on data, not emotion. Because they do not, he said, Tecton will not return to New Mexico anytime soon to drill.

Oil and gas ordinance

After the moratorium, commissioners passed an oil and gas ordinance in December 2008.

“The county ordinance has (a) comprehensive set of environmental regulations which should render drilling as safe as it can be, given the tremendous forces inherent in the activity,” County Attorney Stephen Ross said. “That being said, we believe that drilling can be accomplished economically even given the requirements of the ordinance.”

Commissioner Mike Anaya, who initiated the idea for the moratorium, did not reply to two e-mailed requests for comments for this article. His legislative liaison referred the questions to county spokesman Stephen Ulibarri.

Commissioners wanted to regulate — not ban — oil and gas drilling, Ulibarri said.

“You cannot prohibit oil and gas drilling,” he said.

But you can make it difficult.

The county’s ordinance requires eight reports or assessments be done by companies that want to drill here:

  • A report that shows that what you’re planning to do is consistent with the county’s general plan.
  • An environmental impact report.
  • A fiscal impact report.
  • A report that shows county facilities are sufficient to service oil and gas projects.
  • Water availability assessment. In other words, how is the oil and gas drilling going to affect fresh water and subsurface water.
  • A report that shows how easily your drilling might cause an emergency.
  • Traffic report.
  • Geohydrologic report.

Bob Gallagher, president of the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association, sees the county’s ordinance as a virtual ban on drilling.

“The Santa Fe County ordinance, which I refer to as a moratorium, is by design, and with its $1 million price tag, the toughest in the United States,” he said. “It has assured that Santa Fe County, its residents, hospitals, schools and governments will never see a penny of income from oil and gas.”

At the same time, it has stripped the property rights of private individuals, which ought to open up the eyes of others who have non-oil and gas property rights, once the nose of the camel is under the tent, he said.

“There is no comparison to other New Mexico counties or even to the state regs,” Gallagher said. “The very few who have them were completed utilizing sound science and common sense.”


Started to try to clarify the article, but too many problems.

Protesters to fight 'water grab'

El Defensor Chieftan

Written by T.S. Last A Flood of Protests The Fight has Begun Taking Action
Wednesday, 18 November 2009 06:00

Residents of western Socorro County and Catron County are mobilizing in an effort to block what they describe as a "water grab" by Augustin Plains Ranch LLC.

A meeting attended by about 35 people was held Nov. 10 at the Magdalena Public Library for the purpose of informing the public about the issue and coordinating efforts to defeat it.

Don Wiltshire, of Magdalena, a member of the San Agustin Water Coalition — a citizens group that aims to protect San Agustin Plains water basin and functions as a blanket organization for protesters of the corporation's application — served as master of ceremonies.

"We're all in this boat together and we're going to fight it together," Wiltshire told the audience. "That's what it's going to take to win this fight — staying together and hanging in there."

The New York City based corporation filed an application with the state Office of the Engineer two years ago, to drill 37 wells with 20-inch casings in order to pump 54,000 acre-feet of groundwater (about 17.6 billion gallons) from the San Agustin Basin each year. The wells would be located north and south of U.S. 60 just inside Catron County's eastern boundary, between the Very Large Array and the town of Datil.

An amended application, filed in May 2008 and approved by the State Engineer in August of that year, called for an increase in the depth of the drilling from 2,000 to 3,500 feet. It also expanded the area of proposed places of use to any areas within Socorro, Catron, Sierra, Valencia, Bernalillo, Sandoval and Santa Fe counties that are in the Rio Grande Basin." More>>>>

Monday, November 16, 2009

Public Input on (Santa Fe) County Growth Plan Changes Schedule


Public Input on County Growth Plan Changes Schedule

Planning Team Incorporates Recommendations; Next Public Hearing on December 17

Santa Fe – November 16, 2009 – Public input received at the Santa Fe County Development Review Committee (CDRC) public hearing on November 12 has resulted in several changes to the Sustainable Land Development Plan (SLDP) process. There were five key themes that emerged from the public during that meeting: (1) residents of communities that have developed community plans would prefer that their plans not be altered; (2) the draft Plan is too long; (3) the public needs more time to absorb the draft Plan; (4) there should be opportunities for more citizen input; and (5) the draft Plan is not sustainable enough, it should require more sustainable protections. There also were other, specific comments and recommendations made by the public at the meeting.

The County Planning Team has reviewed the suggestions and is working to incorporate recommended changes. Integrating the new input and suggested changes will change the draft Plan and the Public Hearing schedule. The revised SLDP will be released for additional public review on December 7. The next public hearing on the SLDP will be on December 17 at 6:00 pm in the County Commission Chambers. The public hearing on the SLDP scheduled for December 3 has now been postponed. Additional public hearings will be scheduled for early 2010.

For more information on the Sustainable Land Development Plan and how to participate in the planning process, please contact Robert Griego, at 986-6215 or rgriego@santafecounty.org.

(San Miguel) County wants oil and gas regulations

Las Vegas Optic

Novemeber 16, 2009

By David Giuliani

"San Miguel County is looking at a proposed moratorium on oil and gas drilling permits while it drafts regulations for such activities.

No permits for oil and gas drilling are pending before the county. But County Commission Chairman David Salazar said he wants to make sure the county has sufficient rules in effect before companies come forward.

The county has a general ordinance that deals with conditional land uses, but it doesn’t contain any regulations specifically designed for oil and gas drilling.

Over the last year, Mora County has been reviewing its regulations to determine whether changes are needed to deal with proposed oil and gas drilling. A company has expressed interest in drilling in the Ocaté area and has already been in talks with landowners, some of whom have entered agreements to allow access.

But many in Mora County vehemently oppose drilling, saying it would affect the environment and their way of life.

Salazar said the current San Miguel County regulations are insufficient. At last week’s commission meeting, members generally agreed that they needed to form a task force to deal with the issue.

“Sooner or later, we’ll be having the same issues that Mora County is having, and we need to be satisfied with the regulations that we have,” Salazar said.

Commissioner Nicolas Leger said he wanted the task force to include people from both sides of the issue. He said an earlier task force on wind farm regulations appeared to be heavily weighted toward those against such activities.

“With the wind farms, there was some concern about balance. We need to get input from both sides of the fence,” Leger said.

Leger said he favored a more comprehensive ordinance.

“I don’t think the regulations we have are sufficient at all. The technology has changed considerably since that ordinance was enacted,” he said.

Pat Leahan, co-director of the Las Vegas Peace and Justice Center, said she was glad the county is paying attention to the oil and gas issue. She said the task force would have “excellent” resources locally to study the issue.

She said she hoped the task force would include representatives from land grants and acequia associations." Article>>>>

Sunday, November 15, 2009

United Communities of Santa Fe CPO (County Community Planning Organization) Presentation

William Mee of United Communities of Santa Fe County converted his verbal presentation about Community Planning Organizations (CPOs) to Pojoaque Valley on November 11, 2009 to Power Point (5MB). He says, "In keeping with our ideas of becoming a "clearinghouse" of info for communities I thought this was a good start."

In his presentation, a CPO "is a development review body of elected/appointed members that works with a specific boundary approved by a BCC (Board of County Commissioners) Ordinance."

CPOs are organizations being considered by Santa Fe County under the Sustainable Land Development Plan.

Related posts for background:

United Communities of Santa Fe County launches blog

Santa Fe County Sustainable Land Development Plan (SLDP)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Residents demand answers

Janelle Stecklein / Amarillo Globe-News

Bushland residents attend a meeting with representatives of El Paso Corp. at Bushland High School. The session concerned last week's gas line explosion.

Amarillo Globe News

Web-posted Friday, November 13, 2009

By Janelle Stecklein

"BUSHLAND - More than 200 people filled the high school auditorium Thursday night to vent and ask questions about last week's massive natural gas pipeline explosion that shook the town.

El Paso Natural Gas officials sat on stage for more than two hours and fielded dozens of questions from residents affected by the Nov. 5 blast that destroyed one home, damaged others and temporarily displaced residents of the Prairie West subdivision.

"We know you have serious concerns," said Mike Catt, vice president of operations. "We may not have all the answers this evening."

The high school overlooks the site of the explosion. A large, black crater is etched in the landscape.

Residents shared stories of sleepless nights. Some said their children are afraid to sleep alone at night or leave the house.

All wanted to know what caused the explosion.

"The peace of mind out here is shattered," resident James Gillenwater said.

El Paso officials compiled and handed out a list of local counselors who can work with people.

Many residents said they were concerned other lines near the explosion site may have been damaged by the explosion. They fear another explosion.

Three members of the Torres family were injured in the explosion, and their home was destroyed. The family's mother and father, Alfredo and Agnieszka Torres, have been released from an Amarillo hospital. Franczeska Torres, 15, was transported to a Lubbock hospital's burn unit with serious burns. She is listed in stable condition.

Catt said officials plan to analyze the remaining gas pipelines next year. The company's proposed time line was met by angry grumbling from audience members, who wanted immediate analysis.

"I don't think any of us knew we were sitting on a mini nuclear weapon," said Dr. Jerry Gillis, who suggested rerouting the pipeline." More>>>>

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Watchdog: New York State Regulation of Natural Gas Wells Has Been “Woefully Insufficient for Decades.”

"The New York-based Toxics Targeting went through the Department of Environmental Conservation’s own database of hazardous substances spills over the past thirty years. They found 270 cases documenting fires, explosions, wastewater spills, well contamination and ecological damage related to gas drilling. Many of the cases remain unresolved. The findings are contrary to repeated government assurances that existing natural gas well regulations are sufficient to safeguard the environment and public health. The state is considering allowing for gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale watershed, the source of drinking water for 15 million people, including nine million New Yorkers. [includes rush transcript]" Video and link>>>>

Related post:

Hydraulic Fracturing (aka, fracing) in the News

Hydraulic Fracturing (aka, fracing) in the News

Two posts at Common Ground United regarding hydraulic fracturing in the news:
Help is on the way: EPA involvement in drilling review a plus
API publishes guidelines for safe fracing

Unconventional extraction utilizes directional drilling and hydraulic fracturing. The toxic chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing are not disclosed and are considered proprietary. Decades of industry lobbying culminated in the evisceration of Federal oil and gas regulations and oversight by the Energy Policy Act of 2005; the oil and gas industry currently enjoys significant exemptions from major Federal environmental laws.

At least the Independent Petroleum Association (API publishes guidelines for safe fracing ) is acknowledging that there are safety risks with fracing, but still are trying to control the levels of governmental concerns. It is not either the "state or feds?" but both, and the local level. Each level has its respective authority and concerns. All levels of government need to be involved in protecting health and human safety among other concerns.

See related Drilling Santa Fe post about natural gas drilling and radioactive produced wastewater:

Is New York’s Marcellus Shale Too Hot to Handle?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Is New York’s Marcellus Shale Too Hot to Handle?

Fluids made up of a combination of naturally occurring water from the shale formation and drilling mud are pumped into a lined retaining area behind the drilling rig on a farm in Houston, Pa., in October 2008. New York state is currently holding a public comment period for an environmental review of natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale. (Keith Srakocic/AP Photo)

by Abrahm Lustgarten, ProPublica - November 9, 2009 5:10 am EST

"As New York gears up for a massive expansion of gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale, state officials have made a potentially troubling discovery about the wastewater created by the process: It's radioactive. And they have yet to say how they'll deal with it.

The information comes from New York's Department of Environmental Conservation, which analyzed 13 samples of wastewater brought thousands of feet to the surface from drilling and found that they contain levels of radium-226, a derivative of uranium, as high as 267 times the limit safe for discharge into the environment and thousands of times the limit safe for people to drink.

The findings, if backed up with more tests, have several implications: The energy industry would likely face stiffer regulations and expenses, and have more trouble finding treatment plants to accept its waste -- if any would at all. Companies would need to license their waste handlers and test their workers for radioactive exposure, and possibly ship waste across the country. And the state would have to sort out how its laws for radioactive waste might apply to drilling and how the waste could impact water supplies and the environment.

What is less clear is how the wastewater may affect the health of New Yorkers, since the danger depends on how much radiation people are exposed to and how they are exposed to it. Radium is known to cause bone, liver and breast cancers, and the EPA publishes exposure guidelines for it, but there is still disagreement over exactly how dangerous low-level doses can be to workers who handle it, or to the public." More>>>>

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Tea Party Movement Corporate America's very real revolution.

November 8, 10:49 AMPhiladelphia Progressive ExaminerTim McCown


"The Left had better wake up and smell the coffee. This isn't just a faux version of attempting to do the Right Wing version of the 1960's. This is a very real revolution. This revolution aims at nothing less than the final corporate takeover of our entire political system because democracy is tremendously inefficient by corporate business standards. What with its elections that can radically change the direction of this nation politically there always remains the risk that reform will benefit the people and that profits will be curtailed to provide real benefits to everyone."...

..."Over the course of the Reagan Administration through George Bush Juniors presidency Corporate America has worked in partnership with government to completely disenfranchise the American people. It is global capital after all not Left Wing Liberals that has the desire to create a New World economic order. Only a strong democratic American government is big enough to stand in the way of Global Capitals New World and defending its people from this order based on powerful corporations not governments. But to do this you have to sell the Ameican people on the desirability of losing our rights and freedom's for profits for the few."...

..."Think Progress found that AFP ( Americans for Prosperity ) had staffers at designated bus stops passing out signs, handing out talking points and passing out petitions. A number of these staffers like Tim Phillips the presdient of AFP and Ben Marchi, a former Tom DeLay staffer have direct ties to the Republican Party.

Americans for Properity has direct ties to the oil and natural gas industries through the Koch family funding of its operation. But it also has ties to the lobbying arm of the coal Industry Friends of Coal, and the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, whose hired advertising agency was busted for writing phony grass roots letters to various Congress people. Tim Phillips has also had many ties to the Health Insurance Industry as well. He is paid to make sure we get no green jobs, new energy technology or health care that actually benefits us instead of our money lining Insurance companies CEO's pockets.

One wonders how many of the well meaning Tea Party protestors really understand that underneath all the hot revolutionary rhetoric they are being used to support policies that will boost the rich while keeping them poor and powerless, stripping consummer safety protections, allowing the banking industry to do its its own accounting, selling America the idea that mountain top coal removal is clean and beneficial and that only Socialists and Communists could possibly see it other wise." Entire article>>>>

Grass-roots power: Rural electric co-ops promote efficiency, renewable energy

Staci Matlock | The New Mexican
Posted: Saturday, November 07, 2009
- 9/1

"The members of rural electric cooperatives can't control their electric rates any more than the customers of investor-owned utilities such as Public Service Company of New Mexico. But they have one advantage over PNM customers: They can change management at the ballot box.

Plus, their membership meetings can be almost as much fun as a professional wrestling match.

Take the Mora-San Miguel Electric Cooperative that serves more than 10,000 people in four counties, including a little corner of Santa Fe County. Two years ago, the members voted at the annual meeting to reduce the board's size from 11 to five. Six months later, the board called a special election in the middle of the week in the little mountain village of Mora to re-vote on the matter.

"Some of the board members that were going to be kicked off because of the earlier vote cooked up the special election in the middle of day and middle of week when everyone was working," said Ed Littleton, a cooperative member from Ojo Feliz, N.M., who attended the meeting.

More than 850 people — three times the usual number who participate in the annual elections — took time off from work and braved icy roads to show up for the special election at the VFW building. "It got into a screaming match, and almost a fistfight, between board members who were losing positions and some of the co-op members who were championing the reduced board size," Littleton said.

The members voted overwhelmingly to uphold the board reduction.

A similar issue drew heated debate at the Kit Carson Electric Cooperative's annual meeting in June. State Rep. Al Park, an Albuquerque attorney, was invited to act as parliamentarian because the meeting was expected to be controversial. And Park was impressed. As a PNM customer, he said, "I don't get to say anything. They read my meter and I pay the bill." This was different. "It is not representative democracy. It is democracy in action," he said."

Going renewable>>>>

Friday, November 6, 2009

U.S. natural gas supply may dry up within 30 years, T. Boone Pickens says

12:00 AM CST on Friday, November 6, 2009
By ELIZABETH SOUDER / The Dallas Morning News

esouder@dallasnews.comThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

"T. Boone Pickens, who has spent more than a year telling Americans the answer to their energy woes is natural gas, said Thursday the U.S. natural gas supply will probably dry up in about 30 years." More>>>>

So in the meantime is it "drill, baby, drill" all through the United States using dirty, unconventional extractive techniques and spending vast sums of money to retrofit the refueling infrastructure while subsidizing oil and gas companies to drill for a so-called "bridge fuel"?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

CRUDE opens in Santa Fe for ONE WEEK ONLY(!), starting Friday, 11/06

{click on poster above for larger image}

11/06-11/12 @ THE SCREEN 1600 St. Michael's Drive :: Santa Fe, NM 87505 :: 505.473.6494

The film's subject matter is the largest environmental lawsuit in global history--what's been dubbed the "Amazon Chernobyl" case. It is a class action lawsuit filed 16 years ago by 30,000 Ecuadoreans against Chevron, where the impending $27 billion judgement will no doubt set a precedent for how transnational corporations will be held accountable in the future.

Three years in the making, this cinéma-vérité feature from acclaimed filmmaker Joe Berlinger (Brother’s Keeper, Paradise Lost, Metallica: Some Kind of Monster) is the epic story of one of the largest and most controversial environmental lawsuits on the planet. The inside story of the infamous “Amazon Chernobyl” case, Crude is a real-life high stakes legal drama, set against a backdrop of the environmental movement, global politics, celebrity activism, human rights advocacy, the media, multinational corporate power, and rapidly-disappearing indigenous cultures. The plaintiffs allege that the pollution has created a “death zone” in an area the size of the Rhode Island, resulting in increased rates of cancer, leukemia, birth defects, and a multiplicity of other health ailments. Presenting a complex situation from multiple viewpoints, the film subverts the conventions of advocacy filmmaking, exploring a complicated situation from all angles while bringing an important story of environmental peril and human suffering into focus.



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"Bushland Pipeline Explosion" and "Gas company releasing gas in southwest S.F. while replacing pipeline"

After by chance reading the two following articles in a row, found it ironic enough to post:

From Channel 10 News, KFDA:

"A major pipeline explosion happened just after 1:00 Thursday morning about one mile west of Bushland High School.

Residents in the area have been evacuated. We know that at least three structures are involved. Several fire crews are currently on the scene battling the fire. We have unconfirmed reports that there are only a few minor injuries." More>>>>

Santa Fe New Mexican:

"New Mexico Gas Co. workers made a scheduled release of natural gas on the southwest side of Santa Fe early Wednesday morning as part of the earthwork under way for a new Walmart Supercenter.

An additional release from a gas pipeline near the southwest end of Cerrillos Road will take place this afternoon, said NM Gas.Co spokeswoman Monica Hussey.

"We are replacing a 12-inch line," she said, adding that the time of the second release was not available.

Santa Fe County Fire Department Battalion Chief Mike Neely said four units, two fire engines and two medical emergency teams, responded early Wednesday morning after the department received calls about the odor of gas in the area of Interstate 25 down to the intersection with N.M. 599." Link>>>>

Related post:

Santa Fe, "The City Different," A Contradiction?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Santa Fe County Sustainable Land Development Plan (SLDP)

According to the Santa Fe County website regarding the SLDP, "The Sustainable Land Development Plan (SLDP) will replace the existing 1999 Santa Fe County General Plan/Growth Management Plan. New and challenging issues today require Santa Fe County to be proactive about how we grow and shape our communities. The SLDP is a guiding document incorporating local community values, goals and strategies on how to best manage and sustainably utilize the County's limited natural, economic, and cultural resources. The SLDP is a tool that addresses the existing and future needs of communities in Santa Fe County and serves as a guide for smart growth and development for all residents and businesses in the County. The SLDP will serve as the framework for the County’s Sustainable Land Development Code."

The SLDP will need to be approved by the Community Development Review Committee (CDRC) before passing on to the Board of County Commissioners (BCC) for approval.

Nearby upcoming CDRC schedule for the SLDP:
Nov. 5 Deadline for letters to CDRC re: Sustainable Land Development Plan
Nov. 12 CDRC Hearing (time to be confirmed)

Notice that County staff prepares packages a week in advance of CDRC hearings. If you want the CDRC to read your comments regarding the SLDP you will need to email or hand deliver to Paula, the land use secretary by THIS THURSDAY MORNING NOV 5TH.

Put in the SUBJECT something like: Comments For CDRC Members Nov. 12th SLDP hearing

If you miss the packet deadline ( Nov. 5) she will make copies for Jack Kolkmeyer to present at the hearing for the members of the CDRC.

Paula Sanchez, Secretary Land Use
Email: Paula Sanchez <paulasan@co.santa-fe.nm.us>

The snail mailing address is:

Santa Fe County, Att: Paula Sanchez, Secretary Land Use
102 Grant Ave.

"Split Estate" Screening at the United World College

Screening of film “Split Estate” & discussion of Oil & Gas Drilling Industry in San Miguel and Mora Counties

Sunday, November 8, 2009, 1:00 - 3:00 PM

United World College-USA, Kluge Auditorium, Montezuma, NM

Co-hosted by: UWC-USA Students for Peace & Justice and the Las Vegas Peace & Justice Center

Special screening of the just-released, highly-acclaimed, 76-min. documentary “Split Estate” (http://www.SplitEstate.com/) followed by a panel discussion on the impacts posed by the Oil & Gas Industry’s potential for drilling in San Miguel County and Mora County.

Debra Anderson, Filmmaker (Director, Producer & Editor of “Split Estate”)
Paula Garcia (President, Mora Land Grant)
Johnny Micou (Co-Founder, Drilling Santa Fe, & Executive Director, Common Ground United)
Linda Spier (Producer, Galisteo Basin Photography Project and Mora Photography Project)

We encourage UWC students, staff, faculty, San Miguel County and Mora County residents, land owners, public officials, community leaders and others to attend the film screening and discussion. This 2009 documentary shows the impacts caused by oil & natural gas drilling in Colorado and New Mexico. Tens of thousands of acres are being leased to the O&G Industry in San Miguel and Mora Counties right now. Come learn about the consequences for those in the path of this drilling boom. Oil & Gas development has arrived and we need to educate ourselves about the potential effects of this industry, and what we can do about it. Everyone is welcome. Please join us.

For more information, please contact: (505) 425-3840, (505) 617-6794,
lvpeacecenter [at] desertgate.com

Press Release UWC Screening "Split Estate">>>>

"Split Estate UWC Screening Flyer>>>>

Santa Fe, "The City Different," A Contradiction?

Photo, Santa Fe New Mexican

As the proportion of what makes Santa Fe unique and a destination spot grows less to a city of Everywheresville, now groundbreaking is occuring for a Walmart, according to the Santa Fe New Mexican article, "Crews prepare south-side sites for Walmart, Toyota," by Tom Sharpe>>>>

Juxtapose the Drilling Santa Fe post:

The City and County of Santa Fe going Green?

The City and County of Santa Fe going Green?

After the public outcry and subsequent oil and gas drilling moratoria and County ordinance to protect Santa Fe County and the Galisteo Basin from the adverse impacts of oil and gas drilling and development, it would seem only fitting that both the City and the County of Santa Fe take alternative paths to energy needs. There might even be a county-wide utility grid with mini- solar and wind farms in southeastern part of the County. This would require construction of some transmission lines from the farms to Edgewood, but from Edgewood to Santa Fe the existing power lines could be used.

For related articles, go to the Common Ground United posts below:
Santa Fe County takes initiative in renewable energy>>>>
City gets green light for solar power deal>>>>

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Budget show: cheap chills


The New Mexican
Posted: Friday, October 30, 2009
- 10/3

"By comparison, the cuts being considered by Secretary Joanna Prukop of the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department sound benign — but they're not:

The highly professional Prukop went, service by service, through her domain, figuring out which job vacancies she could least afford to hold open. Many were in law-enforcement at our state parks — a chilling prospect, which might include closed parks.

Besides considering furloughs for scores of employees, she's taking a hard look at 11 job vacancies in the environmentally crucial oil-conservation office. That could mean a two-thirds reduction in field inspections; intervals during which lots of groundwater lies at risk.

Felizmente, Prukop has listed other budget-cutting possibilities that are at least a little less dire.

It's the same scene around state government — which, for all the criticism it gets, performs vast amounts of service" More>>>>

Friday, October 30, 2009

Secretary Prukop Plans for State Park Closures, Reduce Services Due to Budget Cuts

See newsflash at Common Ground United>>>> for complete news release.


'“A 7.6 percent budget decrease on top of the 5 percent decrease the Legislature already imposed on our department forces a reduction in services across the board for all divisions,” stated Secretary Prukop. “The cuts will have a dramatic impact on this agency’s ability to serve the citizens of New Mexico and to ensure the protection of the environment.”'...

..."The Oil Conservation Division currently has 11 vacancies, out of 68 total positions statewide and may have to furlough employees one day each pay period. Among other impacts, this will cause a 66 percent reduction in the number of field inspections at oil and gas facilities, which places the environment and groundwater at risk."....

..."Oil Conservation

11 job vacancies

All employees furloughed one day per pay period

Delays in processing all new applications to drill for oil and gas

Forced well shut-ins until paperwork is processed

Reduced operator assistance for research or reporting issues

66 percent reduction in routine field inspections, placing environment and groundwater at risk

Reduced inspections for Water Quality Control Discharge permitted facilities

Potential loss of federal grant that protects underground drinking water due to lack of matching funds."...More>>>>

Plan to Drill on Colorado Plateau Meets Resistance

The New York Times

Sean Patrick Farrell/The New York Times

"A drilling rig stands amid the foothills of the Roan Plateau. Opponents of gas drilling say enough of the area has already been exploited."

Published: October 29, 2009

"RIFLE, Colo. — Standing in a canyon in hilly terrain, Ken Neubecker cast his fly into a cold stream. Minutes later he had a bite. Thrashing at the end of his line was a speckled green fish, a scarce Colorado cutthroat trout.

Ken Neubecker, president of the Colorado chapter of Trout Unlimited, hopes to preserve the dwindling number of wild spaces.

Mr. Neubecker was fishing on the Roan Plateau, a high stretch of terrain beloved by hunters, anglers and hikers for its clear streams, herds of deer and elk, and rugged beauty.

“There just aren’t many places like this in the West,” Mr. Neubecker said. “It’s a real gem.”

Energy companies are looking at the Roan Plateau, too — through entirely different eyes. Vast deposits of natural gas are believed to lie beneath the stretch on which Mr. Neubecker was fishing, and the companies want to drill.

“What is really special about the Roan Plateau, these lands in particular, is the incredible energy density beneath it,” said Duane Zavadil, vice president of the Bill Barrett Corporation, a Denver energy company that holds drilling rights to the Roan.

The company’s plans are at the center of a battle over the future of the plateau, one that could influence the fate of thousands of acres in the high country known as the intermountain West.

A last-minute leasing push by the Bush administration put extensive federal lands in Utah and Colorado into the hands of oil and gas companies, including 36,000 acres of the Roan Plateau. The Obama administration has inherited the touchy question of what to do with those leases.

As one of his first decisions, Ken Salazar, the Coloradan who is President Obama’s interior secretary, scrapped a series of disputed leases in Utah. Last week, he announced that he would seek an investigation into other leases that granted favorable terms and low royalty rates for experimental projects to extract oil from shale." More (with video)>>>>

See New York fight:

Fight Over Shale Gas Drilling Not Over