Sunday, October 11, 2009

Possible drilling enrages some

Photo by Optic file photo
Bison graze on the rolling hills of the Wind River Ranch near Watrous. The 5,000-acre conservation ranch is in the Las Vegas Basin, the area affected by the Santa Fe Opera's lease.
Las Vegas Optic

By Lee Einer

..."Brian Miller, lead biologist for the Wind River Ranch, which is about five miles north of Lake Isabella, issued an open letter to MacKay, in which he expressed concern about the impact of the lease and the ensuing development on the water and the wildlife of the area.

“Your drilling poses a threat to the mission of the Wind River Ranch Foundation,” Miller wrote. “In my opinion, you acted in an irresponsible manner toward the people and wildlife of San Miguel and Mora County. It is not too late to renegotiate your lease in a manner that would provide as much protection here as you would expect from exploration near to where you live.”

The water is an issue of particular importance. Much of the extraction of natural gas from shale is done by a process of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking” for short. The structure of shale is typically one of thin overlying sheets, like pages in a book, with the gas trapped between them.

To release that gas, drilling companies pump a large amount of water combined with sand and chemicals into the gas-bearing layer of rock under extremely high pressure. The pressure fractures the rock, the sand tends to hold the fractures open, and the chemicals aid in releasing the gas from the host rock.

The process, under a provision of the 2005 Energy Policy Act referred to by some as the “Haliburton loophole,” (Vice President Dick Cheney’s company pioneered modern fracking techniques) exempts the process of fracking from EPA supervision under the Safe Drinking Water Act.

One consequence of this is that drilling companies don’t have to disclose what chemicals they are pumping into the ground. But the mixtures used frequently contain highly toxic and cancer-causing chemicals such as benzene, toluene, ethelbenzine and methanol.

Drillers often pump a million gallons or more of the water-sand-chemical slurry into a given site." Article>>>>

See previous post:

Letters to the Santa Fe Opera from Mora and Santa Fe County Residents Regarding the Opera Oil and Gas Lease

Some great citizens letters sent to the Santa Fe Opera (link>>>>)

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