See Common Ground United Action Alert>>>>
Friday, August 28, 2009
See Common Ground United Action Alert>>>>
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Briefs: Aug. 26
By: Dave Maass 08/26/2009
"Environmentalists in Santa Fe County may have chased would-be oil wildcats Tecton Energy out of the Galisteo Basin, but folks in Rio Arriba County are still facing off with Approach Operating LLC.
The New Mexico Oil Conservation Commission will hold hearings on 20 applications from Approach to drill the Mancos shale formations six miles outside of Tierra Amarilla.
The commission also will consider Rio Arriba County Commission’s request to cancel or suspend four of Approach’s previously approved drilling permits. The hearings are scheduled for 9 am, Sept. 9 at Porter Hall, 1220 S. St. Francis Drive in Santa Fe. " Link>>>>
Oil Conservation Commission Docket Link>>>>
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
by Abrahm Lustgarten, ProPublica - August 25, 2009 12:36 pm EDT
"Federal environment officials investigating drinking water contamination  near the ranching town of Pavillion, Wyo., have found that at least three water wells contain a chemical used in the natural gas drilling process of hydraulic fracturing. Scientists also found traces of other contaminants, including oil, gas or metals, in 11 of 39 wells tested there since March.
The study, which is being conducted under the Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund program, is the first time the EPA has undertaken its own water analysis in response to complaints of contamination in drilling areas, and it could be pivotal in the national debate 
over the role of natural gas in America’s energy policy.
Abundant gas reserves are being aggressively developed in 31 states, including New York  and Pennsylvania . Congress is mulling a bill  that aims to protect those water resources from hydraulic fracturing, the process in which fluids and sand are injected under high pressure to break up rock and release gas. But the industry says environmental regulation is unnecessary  because it is impossible for fracturing fluids to reach underground water supplies and no such case has ever been proven.
Scientists in Wyoming will continue testing this fall to determine the level of chemicals in the water and exactly where they came from. If they find that the contamination did result from drilling, the placid plains arching up to the Wind River Range would become the first site where fracturing fluids have been scientifically linked to groundwater contamination." More>>>>
Tanks hold natural gas condensate and mark the spot of producing gas wells in the Pavillion field, in Fremont County, Wyo., in the heart of the Wind River Indian Reservation. The Environmental Protection Agency has found chemicals that are used in gas drilling in water wells near this site. (Abrahm Lustgarten/ProPublica)
Sunday, August 23, 2009
“Astroturf Activism”: Leaked Memo Reveals Oil Industry Effort to Stage Rallies Against Climate Legislation
"A leaked memo reveals the American Petroleum Institute is asking oil companies to recruit employees, retirees and contractors to take part in rallies against climate change legislation. We speak with Greenpeace USA research director Kert Davies. [includes rush transcript]" Link to video>>>> Link to memo>>>> Link to related post>>>>
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Double Post: Oil Industry Backs Protests of Emissions Bill / In hot water: World sets ocean temperature record
"HOUSTON — Hard on the heels of the health care protests, another citizen movement seems to have sprung up, this one to oppose Washington’s attempts to tackle climate change. But behind the scenes, an industry with much at stake — Big Oil — is pulling the strings.
Hundreds of people packed a downtown theater here on Tuesday for a lunchtime rally that was as much a celebration of oil’s traditional role in the Texas way of life as it was a political protest against Washington’s energy policies, which many here fear will raise energy prices.
“Something we hold dear is in danger, and that’s our future,” said Bill Bailey, a rodeo announcer and local celebrity, who was the master of ceremonies at the hourlong rally.
The event on Tuesday was organized by a group called Energy Citizens, which is backed by the American Petroleum Institute, the oil industry’s main trade group. Many of the people attending the demonstration were employees of oil companies who work in Houston and were bused from their workplaces." More>>>>
By SETH BORENSTEIN (AP) –
"WASHINGTON — Steve Kramer spent an hour and a half swimming in the ocean Sunday — in Maine. The water temperature was 72 degrees — more like Ocean City, Md., this time of year. And Ocean City's water temp hit 88 degrees this week, toasty even by Miami Beach standards.
Kramer, 26, who lives in the seaside town of Scarborough, said it was the first time he's ever swam so long in Maine's coastal waters. "Usually, you're in five minutes and you're out," he said.
It's not just the ocean off the Northeast coast that is super-warm this summer. July was the hottest the world's oceans have been in almost 130 years of record-keeping.
The average water temperature worldwide was 62.6 degrees, according to the National Climatic Data Center, the branch of the U.S. government that keeps world weather records. That was 1.1 degree higher than the 20th century average, and beat the previous high set in 1998 by a couple hundredths of a degree. The coolest recorded ocean temperature was 59.3 degrees in December 1909.
Meteorologists said there's a combination of forces at work this year: A natural El Nino system just getting started on top of worsening man-made global warming, and a dash of random weather variations. The resulting ocean heat is already harming threatened coral reefs. It could also hasten the melting of Arctic sea ice and help hurricanes strengthen." More>>>>
Monday, August 17, 2009
PNM says contracts with such developers illegal under state law
Staci Matlock | The New Mexican
8/16/2009 - 8/12/09
"A bipartisan group of legislators has filed a brief with state regulators on an issue that will affect who provides renewable energy in New Mexico.
The state legislators support allowing third parties — entities besides Public Service Company of New Mexico — to own and operate solar plants and other renewable energy systems under contract with the utility's customers.
PNM, the state's largest utility, contends such third-party arrangements within its exclusive service area are illegal.
It is the first time in recent memory, and perhaps the first time ever, that legislators have filed a brief with the state Public Regulation Commission in their official capacities as elected lawmakers. "It is unusual," PRC member Jason Marks said.
Rep. Brian Egolf Jr., D-Santa Fe, said 26 legislators so far have signed on to the brief he wrote, from House Speaker Ben Luján, D-Nambé, to the other side of the political spectrum, Sen. Clinton Harden, R-Clovis. "Renewable energy is important enough that legislators were willing to put their names on this," Egolf said.
Gov. Bill Richardson also supports third-party agreements for renewable energy." More>>>>
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Here's an article for the "drill, baby, drill!" crowd:
You gotta dream big when you dream about oil shale
"Things have quieted in the oil patch, and you don't hear as many chants of "Drill, baby, drill" as we did last summer. Even so, there remains considerable interest in developing oil shale, as evidenced by a recent report from the Center of the American West in Boulder.
America's biggest deposits are roughly centered where Colorado, Wyoming and Utah come together. Producing useful oil from those rocks means converting an unpopulated area into an industrial zone of roads, retorts, power lines and refineries. No one who cherishes open space and clean air wants to see that. But there may be a way to minimize those effects if that oil shale ever gets developed. This is my solution: Mine it here, but process it somewhere else.
It's the processing, after all, that requires one to three barrels of water for every barrel of oil, and if there's one thing we don't have a lot of here, it's water.
Technically, oil shale is neither oil nor shale. The "shale" is a sedimentary rock known as marlstone, and the "oil" is a waxy solid called kerogen. A ton of marlstone contains 20 to 50 gallons of kerogen. To extract the kerogen, you crush and heat the marlstone. The leftover marlstone takes up about 30 percent more volume. So you can't just fill in the hole you mined because you'll have a big pile of leftovers. As for the kerogen, it has to be refined to make useful products like diesel fuel.
So here's a pipe dream for producing oil shale: We start with open-pit mines, with the drills and gargantuan shovels operated by electricity. Mine haulage will be by rail, like the Bingham Canyon pit in Utah, and the carloads of marlstone will also moved to some place that has plenty of water, already has a petrochemical industry, and could even use the waste rock that remains after the kerogen is extracted. In other words, Louisiana. There's abundant water at the mouth of the Mississippi, and it rains 60 inches a year, as opposed to maybe 12 up here.
As for the waste rock, Hurricane Katrina underlined the fact that much of New Orleans is below sea level. This is clearly a place that could use fill -- crushed marlstone by the cubic mile." More>>>>
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Staci Matlock | The New Mexican
8/14/2009 - 8/15/09
New Mexico is one of only five states that have exemplary laws guaranteeing solar access, according to a new report published by the Solar America Board for Codes and Standards.
The report looked at two areas: solar easements, or the ability of one property to receive sunlight across property lines without obstruction from another's trees or buildings; and solar rights, or the ability to install solar energy systems on property that is subject to private covenants and restrictions.
In New Mexico, a property owner can record ownership of a solar energy system and establish a solar easement by filing a declaration with the county clerk's office. The law also allows a property owner to enforce a solar right in court." More>>>>
Monday, August 10, 2009
Posted: 08/09/2009 09:38:20 AM MDT
"It was deafening," Bounds said.
More than two years later, the Bounds still have to vent their well and home to make sure the methane gas responsible for the big boom doesn't rebuild to explosive levels. Ben and Melanie Bounds and other residents of Huerfano County in south-central Colorado blame natural gas drilling for the methane that has seeped into their wells and made them fear switching on lights in their homes.
That's why they and their neighbors on the edge of the San Luis Valley are warily watching as Petroglyph Energy seeks state and federal approval to run tests to try to stop the methane leaks and eventually start drilling again.
After investigating the Bounds' explosion and other complaints, state regulators halted Petroglyph's operations in July 2007. A state order requires the Boise, Idaho-based company to monitor water wells, remove methane from water and find a way to keep the methane from migrating before starting to drill again.
A hearing is set for Monday in Walsenburg, about 10 miles east of the Bounds' property, on Petroglyph's request for a permit from the Environmental Protection Agency to pump water and reinject it into wells. The company hopes to create a barrier of water to prevent methane from going where it shouldn't.
Pumping the area groundwater is thought to be at the heart of the problems plaguing area landowners. Petroglyph has drilled 52 coal bed methane wells in the area. Pumping huge volumes of groundwater frees the natural gas trapped in the coal beds.
The problem, said Bounds, is the flow of gas isn't under control. She believes the gas, freed by the release of water pressure, is moving through underground fractures.
"We are being forced right now to live with something that is colorless, odorless and has the potential to harm us," said Bounds, who with her husband is suing Petroglyph over the methane problems." More>>>>
Saturday, August 8, 2009
"Methane released from gas drilling has caused a fatal explosion and water contamination across seven counties in Pennsylvania."
"When methane began bubbling out of kitchen taps near a gas drilling site in Pennsylvania last winter, a state regulator described the problem as "an anomaly." But at the time he made that statement to ProPublica, that same official was investigating a similar case affecting more than a dozen homes near gas wells halfway across the state.
In fact, methane related to the natural gas industry has contaminated water wells in at least seven Pennsylvania counties since 2004 and is common enough that the state hired a full-time inspector dedicated to the issue in 2006. In one case, methane was detected in water sampled over 15 square miles. In another, a methane leak led to an explosion that killed a couple and their 17-month-old grandson.
Methane is the largest component of natural gas. Since it evaporates out of drinking water, it is not considered toxic, but in the air it can lead to explosions. When methane is found in water supplies, it can also signal that deeply drilled gas wells are linked with drinking water systems.
In many cases the methane seepage comes from thousands of old abandoned gas wells that riddle Pennsylvania's geology, state inspectors say. But other cases, including several this year and the 2004 disaster that left three people dead, were linked to problems with newly drilled, active natural gas wells." More>>>>
Friday, August 7, 2009
New York Times
"WASHINGTON — Ten moderate Senate Democrats from states dependent on coal and manufacturing sent a letter to President Obama on Thursday saying they would not support any climate change bill that did not protect American industries from competition from countries that did not impose similar restraints on climate-altering gases." Article>>>>
Thursday, August 6, 2009
By Marjorie Childress 8/5/09 5:20 PM
"At the behest of Gov. Bill Richardson, the state’s Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department has filed a legal brief with the Public Regulation Commission that provides a “detailed analysis” of why small solar energy developers should not be regulated in the same manner as large-scale investor-owned utilities like Public Service Company of New Mexico.
According to a statement from the governor’s office, the brief concludes such regulation would be an “incredible barrier” to the growth of the renewable energy sector in New Mexico if “third party producers” are subject to the cost and complexity of PRC regulation.
What’s a third party producer? Here’s how the governor’s office explains it:">>>>