Thursday, January 28, 2010

Gallagher's out as NMOGA president

January 28, 2010 7:56 PM ET

Kevin Robinson-Avila

"Bob Gallagher, who has led the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association for a decade, is no longer its president.

Gallagher said in an interview Thursday that the organization has “terminated” him from his position.

“As of yesterday, NMOGA bought out my contract and terminated me,” Gallagher said. “They say I damaged the image and reputation of NMOGA so bad that I am no longer effective in representing the oil and gas industry.”' More>>>>

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Legislture in session. Time for bad bills: HB 192 RESCIND OIL & GAS PIT RULES

2010 Regular Session


Sponsor: Thomas C. Taylor

Current Location: House Rules & Order of Business Committee

Text Document PDF Document Introduced (1/27/10)

Yet, according to OGAP (Oil & Gas Accountability Project), "Pits under the new rule: lined, permitted, more respectful of water and property.

The new pit rule bans unlined pits entirely and requires that all pits are permitted with the Oil Conservation Division (OCD). At long last, the public will finally have an inventory of pits in our state! The new rule also strengthens liner requirements and effectively requires the use of closed loop systems in close proximity to our water resources and homes.

The Oil & Gas Accountability Project (OGAP) maintains that the industry will end up saving money in the long run by moving to closed-loop systems. Mary Ellen Denomy, Petroleum Accountant, told the Oil Conservation Commission that closed-loop systems saved 3% per well. Denomy stated that companies were able to cut costs on construction, water, drilling muds and waste disposal when utilizing closed-loop systems. View OGAP's Op-ed." More>>>>

So, why does Representative Taylor think that the pit rules are a bad idea?

Representative Thomas C. Taylor - (R)

District: 1
County: San Juan
Representative Since: 1999
Occupation: Investments
Address: 5909 Rinconada

Farmington, NM 87402
Capitol Phone: (505) 986-4757
Office Phone: (505) 320-0306
Home Phone: (505) 325-9828

Friday, January 15, 2010

(San Miguel) County enacts drilling moratorium

Las Vegas Optic

15 January 2010

By David Giuliani

"The San Miguel County Commission passed a year-long moratorium on permits for oil and gas drilling — a move supported by everyone who spoke before the panel, including an industry spokeswoman.

No one has approached the county about possible drilling, but companies have proposed such activity in neighboring Mora and Santa Fe counties.

In calling for the moratorium, the county plans to form a task force and seek the advice of experts to develop a new ordinance for drilling. The current land-use ordinance includes just a half page dealing with such activity.

More than 20 speakers came before the commission to urge the moratorium’s passage." More>>>>

Proposed Tougher Ozone Standard Worries Intermountain West Drillers

The New York Times

By SCOTT STREATER of Greenwire

Published: January 14, 2010

"More than a dozen Western counties with high levels of oil and gas drilling could face tougher requirements for ozone pollution under new proposed federal standards rolled out last week, adding another dose of regulatory uncertainty to an industry already facing tougher scrutiny over its air emissions."...

..."In New Mexico, which currently meets federal health standards for ozone statewide, two counties -- Rio Arriba and San Juan in the state's Four Corners region -- could fall into nonattainment largely because of power plant emissions, as could several others on the state's southeast side, "where there's a lot of oil and gas development," said Mary Uhl, air quality bureau chief for the New Mexico Environment Department.

While New Mexico has been more cautious than some other Intermountain states about new drilling, it remains in the top five natural gas producing states, with most of the gas coming from the San Juan Basin in northwestern New Mexico and the Permian Basin in the south.

In 2008, Gov. Bill Richardson (D) joined Santa Fe County in imposing a moratorium on oil and gas drilling in the Galisteo Basin south of Santa Fe after environmental groups complained that a proposal to drill new exploratory wells there would harm the area's environment and important archaeological and cultural resources.

Included in Richardson's executive order was that the New Mexico Environment Department consider adopting new air quality regulations to further protect ambient air quality from drilling activity in the basin.

The developer, Tecton Energy of Houston, later abandoned the proposal." More>>>>

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

San Miguel County Board of County Commissioners Pass Oil and Gas Drilling Permit Moratorium

Today, the San Miguel County Board of County Commissioners passed and adopted a one year oil and gas drilling permit moratorium.

See related post:

(San Miguel) County Wants Drilling Rules

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Environmentalists debate whether natural gas is safer for the environment

Staci Matlock | The New Mexican
Posted: Friday, January 08, 2010

"New Mexico is a top producer of natural gas and some environmentalists see the fuel as a more environmentally friendly energy choice than coal.

But is it?

Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club, sees well-regulated natural gas production as a good way to transition from coal and oil to renewable sources like solar, wind and biofuels. "Natural gas is an excellent example of a fuel that can be produced in quite a clean way, and shouldn't be wasted," he said. "We see it as part of the energy transition to a post-fossil fuel economy."

But Johnny Micou, who helped martial a grass-roots effort to stop exploratory oil and gas drilling in the Galisteo Basin near Santa Fe, said the environmental impact of unconventional drilling practices that are allowing industry to tap into new natural gas sources have not been thoroughly studied. "The cumulative environmental impacts of drilling need to be considered," he said.

Micou thinks the Sierra Club needs to take a tougher stand. Supporting natural gas as a "transition" fuel only delays the sense of urgency needed to make a real and substantial shift in energy sources. "There are parts where we (he and Pope) agree, but I would like to see more strides now and a significant change from the way we do energy sources and automobiles," Micou said. "Soft-pedaling on industry now is going to perpetuate the problem."

New Mexico is the fourth- or fifth-largest producer of natural gas in the country every year and revenues generated from the billions of cubic feet extracted are a big boost for the state. Most of the natural gas comes from the San Juan Basin in northwestern New Mexico and the Permian Basin in the south. Now energy companies are eyeing basins from Tucumcari to Mora that are potentially rich in natural gas." More>>>>


Related article:

The Wall Street Journal

Sierra Club's Pro-Gas Dilemma


December 22, 2009

"LIVERPOOL, N.Y. -- When energy companies began preparations to drill for natural gas in upstate New York last year, the local Sierra Club quickly organized against them.

The group's New York chapter demanded studies on the environmental risks, pushed for stricter regulations and called for a statewide ban on most gas drilling. The drilling hasn't begun as the state works to develop regulations.

It would have been a typical story of environmentalists battling industry, except for one thing: The national Sierra Club is one of natural gas's biggest boosters.

Carl Pope, the Sierra Club's executive director, has traveled the country promoting natural gas's environmental benefits, sometimes alongside Aubrey McClendon, chief executive of Chesapeake Energy Corp., one of the biggest U.S. gas companies by production.

The national group's pro-gas stance has angered on-the-ground environmentalists in several states who say their concerns are being marginalized." More>>>>

Link to Sierra Club new national policy on gas>>>>

Friday, January 8, 2010

Amid strife, first Whites Peak land swap closes

Staci Matlock | The New Mexican
Posted: Thursday, January 07, 2010
- 1

"Angry hunters and skeptical public officials Thursday grilled state Land Commissioner Pat Lyons over a controversial package of state trust-land trades around Whites Peak.

The confrontation at the state Land Office in Santa Fe came shortly after the first such deal closed, involving the Stanley Ranch.

Lyons held the meeting to give state legislators more information about the trade. But the session more than once devolved into heated exchanges, with Lyons and a Las Vegas, N.M., hunting guide at one point shaking fingers at each other.

"This is wrong," said Albert H. Goke, who said he had been a licensed guide for 10 years and that the trust lands being traded into private hands have some of the biggest bull elk.

State Rep. Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, asked Lyons why the meeting was held on the day the main land trade was already completed. "It is not good policy to explain a complicated exchange after the fact," Egolf said.

Rancher David Stanley traded 3,336 acres of private land valued at $6.4 million for 7,205 acres of state trust land valued at $6.3 million. The trade consolidates his holdings and state trust lands around Whites Peak. Exchanges are proposed with three other private ranches, including a swap with UUBar that could close anytime in the next few weeks.

Lyons said the exchange will create 44,000 acres of contiguous state trust lands with more water sources, good big-game habitat and new permanent public access off N.M. 120.

Hunters from Mora and Las Vegas who attended the meeting said the Stanley trade takes away some of the best elk-hunting areas. "Those of us who know that area know what's being lost," Angelo Archuleta of Mora said. "It's painful."

Egolf has asked the attorney general to investigate the appraisals conducted for the land trade. He said he thought the only possibility to void the Stanley land trade now would be if Lyons was sued for breach of fiduciary trust or for not complying with the state Enabling Act." More>>>>

Related post:

Land commissioner to meet with lawmakers about land swap

Land commissioner to meet with lawmakers about land swap

Jan. 8, 2010
By Las Vegas Optic

"State Land Commissioner Patrick Lyons will be meeting with area state lawmakers on the proposed trade of state land with ranchers in the White Peak area.

Many sportsmen have complained about the swap, saying it's taking prime hunting ground from the public. Gov. Bill Richardson has joined them in the criticism.

The Land Office has defended the trade as providing a better alignment of state and private lands in the White Peak area. The agency has noted that many people have been trespassing on private land there.

The meeting will be open to legislators and the media at 1 p.m. Thursday at the State Land Office on Old Pecos Trail in Santa Fe. A spokeswoman for the Land Office said the public isn't invited."Link>>>>

What is it about elected officials making decisions concerning public lands and the public is not invited seem odd?

Monday, January 4, 2010

Don't Blame the Pit Rule for Loss of Revenue, State Budget Crisis

Albuquerque Journal

By Joanna Prukop

"Former Secretary, New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department

Don't Blame the Pit Rule for Loss Of Revenue, State Budget Crisis

New Mexico's oil and gas industry generated $1.8 billion for the state's general fund last year and employed thousands of New Mexicans. It is critical to our state's economy and so is our responsibility to protect the environment, wildlife, natural resources, and especially precious ground water.

Industry lobbyists and some politicians blame the Pit Rule, adopted by the New Mexico Oil Conservation Commission in 2008, for the state's current budget crisis and the drop in state revenues and claim that the Pit Rule is driving the oil and gas industry out of the state. This is not true and only represents half the story. Relevant facts are conveniently omitted, like the global crash in oil and gas prices and that neighboring states are also seeing reduced oil and gas drilling activity. There have been no attempts by these lobbyists and politicians to enlighten the public as to what the Pit Rule regulates and protects.

Here is the whole story:>>>>"

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Proposed Legislation Would Punish County for Regulating Drilling

Rio Grande Sun

By Joe Crawford

SUN Staff Writer

Published: Thursday, December 31, 2009 10:51 AM MST

"Proposed legislation drafted by a state senator from Farmington would punish Rio Arriba County for its new oil and gas ordinance.

Sen. William Sharer (R-Farmington) introduced a bill Dec. 15 that would penalize counties and municipalities with local laws that have an “onerous effect on extractive industries.” The legislation would keep those local governments from receiving funding from severance tax bonds, which makes up a significant portion of the state’s capital outlay appropriations.

Sharer said the legislation is aimed directly at Rio Arriba and Santa Fe counties, which have enacted ordinances the last two years to further regulate the oil and gas industry.

“If you don’t want the production, why should you benefit from the proceeds?” he said.

Sharer’s law would apply to oil and gas drilling as well as mining, according to the bill.

The Rio Arriba County Commission passed an oil and gas ordinance in May in response to plans by Texas-based Approach Resources to drill on 90,000 acres of mineral rights south of the Tierra Amarilla. Drilling had never occurred in the area before. The Commission postponed the first applications from Approach at a meeting Tuesday in Tierra Amarilla.

The County ordinance requires drilling companies to receive approval from the County before drilling new wells, but the County only monitors drilling issues on the ground surface, such as wells proximity to homes and water wells. County Planning and Zoning Director Gabriel Boyle has said County staff does not have the training or equipment to monitor anything that happens below ground.

The state Oil Conservation Commission, the state entity responsible for monitoring oil and gas drilling, would be responsible for determining which laws are onerous. The bill defines the onerous laws as those that “would increase the cost of either drilling or operating a well by fifty percent or more over the drilling or operating costs that would be incurred without the ordinance.”

When pressed for specific issues with the counties’ ordinances, Sharer said he had not analyzed the two counties’ ordinances. Sharer said he was opposed to any local regulations that go beyond what was required by the state.

“If you want environmental protection, then we can all live in a mud hut and freeze and die at age 45 with no teeth,” Sharer said. “What I’m looking for is some balance.”

Rio Arriba County Commissioner Alfredo Montoya said he was not concerned the law would cause the County any problems.

“We’ve never been about prohibiting the industry from doing business in our County,” he said.

Rio Arriba’s oil and gas drilling is based in the western part of the County which abuts San Juan County but the new ordinance applies primarily to drilling in the eastern portion.

State Sen. Richard Martinez (D-EspaƱola) said he was under the same impression as Montoya. Martinez said he is not in support of local laws that go far beyond what is mandated by the state, but the County’s ordinance is not that stringent.

“I had thought that the oil and gas industry and the County had reached a consensus,” he said.

County Manager Lorenzo Valdez said he doubted the bill would have enough support to become law.

Sharer has received $1,000 in campaign contributions from the oil company Chevron since 2006. He was also given $575 in October by the American Legislative Exchange Council, which has publicly lobbied the United States to end its moratorium on offshore drilling." Link>>>>



About the bill:

2010 Regular Session

SB 8


Sponsor: William E. Sharer