Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Santa Fe Reporter: What's Next? & New Mexico's Worst Case Scenario?

Santa Fe Reporter
June 30 - July 6, 2010

"What's Next? -- The disaster in the Gulf is no anomaly. It's an arrow pointing toward future disasters" page 16 and "New Mexico's Worst Case Scenario?" page 21 below:

"New Mexico's Worst Case Scenario?"


"Last Oct. 26, federal scientists warned US Energy Secretary Steven Chu about the potentially disastrous consequences of a large earthquake near Los Alamos National Laboratory.

In its report, the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board said a quake could cause LANL’s plutonium to catch fire, creating a radioactive cloud that could kill not only lab workers but people living nearby.

DNFSB Vice Chairman John E Mansfield said Chu must take “definite, measurable, and immediate” steps to batten down LANL’s plutonium.

Four months later, Chu replied that a deputy, James J McConnell (who did not return SFR’s call), would oversee efforts to reduce the risk. What efforts?

Chu’s written response says his department has devised “incentives” of $1.3 million for the private contractor overseeing LANL to develop safety upgrades.

That’s roughly seven-tenths of 1 percent of LANL’s budget.

Three days after DNFSB issued its frightening report, the Energy Department awarded $5 million to a drilling project 50 miles from LANL that could contribute to the earthquake risk.

The award went to Jemez Pueblo for the drilling of two exploratory wells, intended to assess the geothermal energy resources near Indian Springs. Geologists are well aware that certain types of geothermal production can cause earthquakes."

BP Accused of Misreporting Output in Colo.

By AP / KRISTEN WYATT Wednesday, Jun. 30, 2010

"(DENVER) — The Interior Department has fined BP America $5.2 million for allegedly submitting false reports about energy production on an Indian reservation in Colorado.

The Interior Department said Wednesday that the U.S. unit of BP PLC repeatedly misreported royalty rates for natural gas on Southern Ute Indian tribal lands. (Read a brief history of BP.)

Interior spokesman Patrick Etchart said BP was not taking more natural gas than reported. Instead, BP at times reported erroneous royalty rates, or listed natural gas coming from the wrong wells, he said.

BP officials didn't immediately return a call seeking comment. (See pictures of people protesting against BP.)

Southern Ute auditors said they discovered incorrect reports in 2007 and reported them to BP, which blamed the misreporting on a computer glitch and promised to make changes. Etchart wasn't sure how far back the errors went. However, BP's reporting errors continued after the audit pointed out the problems, leading to the fine."

Methane's hidden impact in Gulf oil spill

By Pete Spotts, Staff writer / June 30, 2010

The BP oil blowout, now into its 11th week, is releasing large quantities of methane into the ocean, most of which is remaining dissolved in the waters deep beneath the surface.

~~~ Related Stories

The gas represents an under-appreciated pollutant in a drill-rig disaster that has pumped as much as 60,000 barrels (2.5 million gallons) of oil a day into the Gulf of Mexico, researchers say.

Unlike the oil, the methane isn't coating birds or fouling beaches and wetlands. But it has the potential to wreak havoc on important links in the undersea food chain, researchers say.

By volume, some 40 percent of the hydrocarbons in the reservoir the Deepwater Horizon tapped is gas, of which 95 percent is methane, notes Samantha Joye, a marine scientist at the University of Georgia who has been gathering data at sea on the methane plumes.

By weight, she and her colleagues estimate, for every ton of oil spewing from the broken riser pipe, a half a ton of gas is blasting upward as well. "That's a tremendous amount of gas coming into the water column," she says." More>>>>

Hurricane Alex sending oil to Gulf coast beaches

By MarketWatch

June 30, 2010, 11:04 a.m. EDT

"LOS ANGELES (MarketWatch) -- Hurricane Alex, which strengthened overnight from a tropical storm, is heading for the coastline near the Texas-Mexico border and is starting to churn oil from the massive BP spill on to beaches along the Gulf of Mexico, reports said Wednesday.

Several media outlets reported that as Alex crossed the southern portion of the Gulf, it generated high waves that forced oil-skimming vessels to retreat to shore, and started to push some of the gooey substance spewing from a mile below the ocean's surface toward the coast." More>>>>

Court sets hearing on drilling moratorium

Advocate staff writer
Published: Jun 30, 2010 - Page: 5A

"A three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear the federal government’s plea for reinstatement of the moratorium on deepwater oil and gas drilling in the Gulf of Mexico during oral arguments scheduled for July 8 in New Orleans.

The Obama administration announced the six-month moratorium on May 28. But a group of offshore service companies persuaded U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman to end the freeze three weeks later.

Now, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is asking U.S. Circuit Judges W. Eugene Davis, Jerry E. Smith and James L. Dennis to reverse Feldman.

The state of Louisiana has joined the offshore service companies in asking the 5th Circuit to uphold Feldman’s decision." More>>>>

BP executives to face public grillings

By Joshua Chaffin in Brussels

Published: June 30 2010 14:41 | Last updated: June 30 2010 14:41

"Top BP executives, including Tony Hayward, could be thrust into a public lion’s den following a decision by the presidential commission investigating the Gulf of Mexico oil spill to hold hearings in affected states.

Bill Reilly, co-chair of the commission, acknowledged concerns that the hearings, which will begin on July 12 at a 500-seat venue in New Orleans, could descend into a carnival-like atmosphere. But he argued that it was important that local residents be heard." More>>>>

Drilling experts tell landowners of fracking peril

Pennsylvania natural gas drilling uses chemicals linked to illness

Posted Monday, Jun. 28, 2010

"HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Compounds associated with neurological problems, cancer and other serious health effects are among the chemicals being used to drill natural gas wells in Pennsylvania, although state and industry officials said Monday the practice is not polluting drinking water.

The Associated Press obtained the list from the state Department of Environmental Protection, which assembled what is believed to be the first complete catalog of gas drilling chemicals being used in Pennsylvania. The agency hopes to post it online soon."

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Colorado’s Vermillion Basin to be off limits to oil, gas drilling

Denver Business Journal - by Cathy Proctor
Tuesday, June 29, 2010, 5:18pm MDT

"The federal Bureau of Land Management said Tuesday that the 77,000-acre Vermillion Basin in northwestern Colorado, thought to have a high potential for producing natural gas, will be placed off limits to oil and gas companies.

That decision is to be part of the bureau’s proposed Resource Management Plan for about 1.9 million acres of mineral leases in Moffat and Routt counties in northwestern Colorado that are managed by its Little Snake Field Office in Craig." More>>>>

Josh Fox's "Gasland" Takes on Natural Gas: Is "Fracking" Polluting America?

Posted by Shira Lazar

Watch CBS News Videos Online

"LOS ANGELES (CBS) This past January, Josh Fox won the Documentary Special Jury Prize for his groundbreaking work, "Gasland," at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival.

His first ever documentary, now available on HBO, touches on a subject that has become increasingly important in light of the recent catastrophic BP oil spill - the environmental effects of the energy industry's efforts to extract natural resources. In "Gasland," Fox travels across the country exposing what he says are the unsafe drilling practices of the natural gas industry and its detrimental effects on the environment and communities.

Fox's story began in 2008 after being offered $100,000 for a gas lease on his family's 19.5-acre home in Pennsylvania. In an effort to understand what the lease would mean to him and his family, Fox began investigating the effects of natural gas drilling in nearby towns.

"The story from the gas companies, and those concerned in my area were totally radically different, that I decided to investigate about it. Gas companies were saying, 'this is no problem it's basically a fire hydrant in the middle of the field, this is good for the environment...' and then the environmentalists were saying, 'look there's a million chemicals involved, this is incredible destructive to the land, it can contaminate your water, air pollution, people are getting sick.'"

His first stop was a neighboring town called Dimmick where gas companies had set up shop with drilling prevalent throughout the town. According to Fox, the town was "completely upside down. Water contamination, people could light their water on fire, Halliburton trucks everywhere, people were afraid of what was happening to them, they were feeling betrayed, a feeling like they got something completely different than what they signed up for."

Compelled to understand the effects of this type of drilling called "hydraulic fracturing" or "fracking," Fox ventured to more than 20 others states where this practice occurs. He claims we he found was shocking.

In communities where fracking is a common occurrence, negative effects were just as common, he says - sick communities where cancer rates were abnormally high, water that could be lit on fire, not to mention generally unsafe drinking water, animals losing hair, and much more. According to Fox, there are 450,000 of these gas wells across the country, with a proposal for 100,000 more in New York and 100,000 in Pennsylvania.

Not surprisingly, the natural gas industry sees things quite differently." More>>>>

Moratorium claims to be considered with others from Gulf of Mexico oil spill
Published: Tuesday, June 29, 2010, 7:28 AM Updated: Tuesday, June 29, 2010, 7:29 AM

"Kenneth Feinberg, administrator of the claims fund for victims of the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster, said Monday that the White House and BP have agreed to give him jurisdiction over claims from individuals and businesses harmed by the Obama administration's six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling.

"Yes, I now have discovered -- I didn't realize this until yesterday -- that the moratorium claims will fall under my jurisdiction," Feinberg said in an interview Monday on CNN.

"That's a huge development, and we didn't know that before?" replied the CNN reporter.

"I didn't either," Feinberg said.

Feinberg's new authority could vastly expand BP's liability to include claims not just from those whose livelihood has been directly affected by the spill, but also to include those who work in the deepwater drilling industry. " More>>>>

Unexpected Environmental Alliances Amidst the Oil Spill: 'Jesus Will Rip Your Head Off'

by Paul Rogat Loeb

"In the wake of the BP disaster, we've heard powerful stories from fishermen whose livelihoods may have been destroyed for decades or longer. However long it takes for the Gulf's fish, oyster and shrimp harvests to recover, those who've made their livelihoods harvesting them will need to create a powerful common voice if they're not going to continue to be made expendable. A powerful model comes from Seattle and Alaska salmon fisherman Pete Knutson, who has spent thirty-five years engaging his community to take environmental responsibility, creating unexpected alliances to broaden the impact of their voice, and in the process defeating massive corporate interests."...

..."But they refused to give up. Instead, Pete and his coworkers systematically enlisted the region's major environmental groups to campaign against the initiative ("a statewide initiative to regulate fishing nets in a way that would eliminate small family fishing operations"). They'd built up longstanding working relationships, so getting them involved was easy. They also brought in the Native American tribes, with whom they'd also painstakingly built coalitions and with whom they were now accustomed to working with.

Equally important, they enlisted some unexpected allies. When a local affiliate of the fundamentalist Trinity Broadcasting Network broadcast a segment supporting Initiative 640, a fisherman who was a member of the highly conservative Assembly of God churches and who Pete had helped get engaged, called the reporter. "Do you know who Jesus's disciples were? he asked. "They were fishermen. What do you think Jesus is going to do when he comes back and finds out you've stopped people from making a living by fishing? He's going to rip your head off."' More>>>>

Monday, June 28, 2010

BP oil spill costs hit $100 million/day

"(Reuters) - BP said it had spent $300 million on its Gulf of Mexico oil spill response effort in the past three days, hitting the $100 million/day spend rate for the first time and bringing its total bill to $2.65 billion so far." More>>>>

Task force to investigate (Santa Fe) county's mounting troubles

Allegations of fraud, threat related to paving contracts grows to include other possible criminal issues

Phaedra Haywood | The New Mexican
Posted: Sunday, June 27, 2010 - 6/2

"The Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office is assembling a task force to continue a months-long investigation into allegations of theft and fraud in the county's Public Works Department.

"This is something that is going to take some time," said Sheriff Greg Solano on Thursday. "The investigation has expanded since day one and continues to expand on a daily basis."

While the investigation originally focused on allegations of fraud and theft related to county paving contracts, Solano said the case has grown to include "numerous other possible procurement and billing violations that are criminal in nature."

The investigation has already resulted in one criminal charge for a zoning violation, and the string of events has resulted in one firing and contributed to a resignation in county government. The case has also led to more scrutiny of road projects and pending procurement reforms, and spotlighted conflict-of interest issues on the City Council. Evidence of possible violations of the state anti-donation clause have also arisen, implicating government employees and officials from county rank-and-file to the state speaker of the House.

Solano said three full-time sheriff's employees are being pulled from other cases to work on the case, and the task force will include staff from the offices of the district attorney and the state attorney general.

Solano may solicit help from Department of Transportation technicians to see if roads were built to specifications. He has also considered hiring an engineer to help with that analysis, but the cost of that has been estimated at $20,000, an amount that would trigger a procurement process that could take time to complete.

Solano said he couldn't estimate what the investigation might ultimately cost — but said the amount of money the public was defrauded in the case appears to be between $100,000 and $500,000.

Sparked by a whistle-blower

The investigation began April 22 after a county employee tipped off someone in management to suspected wrongdoing related to contracts for paving and other construction services. Officials referred the allegations to the sheriff, which led to the investigation.

It originally focused on whether one or more county contractors had defrauded taxpayers by not performing jobs to bid specifications and charging the county for use of its own materials and equipment.

Solano said investigators now have suspicions that contractors billed the county for work that was never performed. He said the process for deciding the amount of compensation on the contracts has also been called into question." More>>>>

Friday, June 25, 2010

(Chesapeake Energy Corp Front Group Funded MIT) "Study Says Natural Gas Use Likely to Double"

The New York Times
by Matthew L. Wald
June 24, 2010

"WASHINGTON — Natural gas will provide an increasing share of America’s energy needs over the next several decades, doubling its share of the energy market to 40 percent, from 20 percent, according to a report to be released Friday by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The increase, the report concluded, will come largely at the expense of coal and will be driven both by abundant supplies of natural gas — made more available by shale drilling — and by measures to restrict the carbon dioxide emissions that are linked to climate change.

In the long term, however, the future may be dimmer for natural gas if stricter regulations are put in place to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050 — a goal set by President Obama. Although lower in carbon than coal, natural gas is still too carbon-intensive to be used under such a target absent some method of carbon capture, the authors of the report concluded.

The report, one of a series on energy resources, is the result of a two-year effort by 14 prominent energy experts, led by Ernest J. Moniz, an M.I.T. professor who is a former under secretary of energy. Previous reports focused on nuclear power and coal. The report was financed in part by the American Clean Skies Foundation, which represents the interests of the natural gas industry." More>>>>

According to Source Watch, "The American Clean Skies Foundation -- a Washington D.C. based 501(c)3 non-profit group -- states on its website that it "was formed in 2007 to provide all the facts on clean energy -- particularly natural gas and other clean fuels such as wind and solar -- and about the need for greater energy efficiency."[1] The organization was founded by Aubrey K. McClendon, the billionaire CEO of Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake Energy Corp., one of the country's top sellers of natural gas.[2]

In December 2007, the Foundation reported $2,836,504 in assets and $3,166,303 in income, according to Internal Revenue Service reports. [3]"

Link to report>>>>

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Methane in Gulf "astonishingly high": U.S. scientist

"(Reuters) - As much as 1 million times the normal level of methane gas has been found in some regions near the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, enough to potentially deplete oxygen and create a dead zone, U.S. scientists said on Tuesday.

Texas A&M University oceanography professor John Kessler, just back from a 10-day research expedition near the BP Plc oil spill in the gulf, says methane gas levels in some areas are "astonishingly high."' More>>>>

Palin defense fund ruled illegal

St. Louis Globe-Democrat

"ANCHORAGE, Alaska, June 24 (UPI) -- An independent counsel has found a legal defense fund for former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin provided "private financial benefit" for her in violation of state law.

Anchorage, Alaska, attorney Tim Petumenos said Palin -- whose supporters established the fund to help her pay legal bills in an investigation of several ethics complaints against her -- has agreed to return $386,856 donated to the trust prior to her resignation as governor last year, the Anchorage Daily News reported Thursday.

Petumenos said Palin personally gained from the defense fund's use of her official position as governor in appealing for donations. He also concluded that Kristen Cole, the fund's trustee, provided "substantial private benefit" to Palin, although Cole was a public official the newspaper said.

Cole had been appointed by Palin to head several state boards, including the royalty oil and gas advisory board." More>>>>

Salazar endorses new revolving door restriction

"WASHINGTON — Interior Secretary Ken Salazar says he supports a two-year ban on government regulators going to work for the oil and gas industry.

Salazar told the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Thursday that a lifetime ban might be appropriate for some employees, depending on how high they are in the agency that regulates the industry." More>>>>

UPDATE 1-US judge denies stay on drill ban ruling

By Jeremy Pelofsky

WASHINGTON June 24 (Reuters) - A U.S. judge refused on Thursday to put on hold his decision blocking the federal government from enforcing its six-month ban on deepwater oil drilling after the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman in New Orleans rejected the Obama administration's request to stay his decision that allowed deepwater drilling to resume. The Interior Department suspended drilling after the ruptured BP Plc (BP.L) (BP.N) well began gushing oil into the Gulf more than two months ago.

Fifteen hours after the Justice Department appealed Feldman's ruling and requested a stay pending that appeal, Feldman issued a brief order denying the request for the same reasons he gave in his Tuesday decision.

In that opinion, Feldman strongly criticized the Obama administration's moratorium, saying that it was "indeed punitive" because it was too broad, arbitrary and was not adequately justified given the impact on thousands of oil industry workers and on local communities." More>>>>

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Gulf oil spill: A hole in the world

The Guardian
Naomi Klein
June 19, 2010


"Make the bleeding stop

Thankfully, many are taking a very different lesson from the disaster, standing not in wonder at humanity's power to reshape nature, but at our powerlessness to cope with the fierce natural forces we unleash. There is something else too. It is the feeling that the hole at the bottom of the ocean is more than an engineering accident or a broken machine. It is a violent wound in a living organism; that it is part of us. And thanks to BP's live camera feed, we can all watch the Earth's guts gush forth, in real time, 24 hours a day." Article>>>>

Vantiy Fair: A Colossal Fracking Mess

Vanity Fair
The dirty truth behind the new natural gas. Related: A V.F. video look at a town transformed by fracking.
By Christopher Bateman•
Photographs by Jacques del Conte
WEB EXCLUSIVE June 21, 2010


"With natural gas being heavily promoted in TV ads and by politicians and proponents such as oilman and hedge-fund manager T. Boone Pickens, many Americans have come to see the resource in a positive light. Natural gas burns more cleanly than coal and oil do, we are told, and there’s an abundance of it right there, under our soil, making it a logical and patriotic energy source for America. We are told that it can help wean us off our dependence on foreign oil as we make the transition to renewable energy. Yet our supplies of natural gas are ultimately finite, and, increasingly, they must be accessed via hydraulic fracturing. In fact, more than 90 percent of natural-gas wells today use fracking.

Shale gas has become a significant part of our energy mix over the past decade. From 1996 to 2006, shale-gas production went from less than 2 percent to 6 percent of all domestic natural-gas production. Some industry analysts predict shale gas will represent a full half of total domestic gas production within 10 years.

It’s not just the oil-and-gas industry that’s excited about the possibilities. Last year, even a progressive, Washington, D.C.–based think tank, the Center for American Progress Action Fund, desperate for solutions to global warming, touted natural gas as “the single biggest game changer for climate action in the next two decades.” President Obama has been supportive of shale gas and says he wants to see an increase in domestic natural-gas production.

But shale gas and hydraulic fracturing haven’t needed much help from the Obama administration. That’s because they already got a huge helping hand from the federal government under the Bush administration. Although fracking was never regulated by the federal government when it was a less prevalently used technique, it was granted explicit exemptions—despite dissent within the E.P.A.—from the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Clean Air Act, and the Clean Water Act by the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the wide-ranging energy bill crafted by Dick Cheney in closed-door meetings with oil-and-gas executives. While the average citizen can receive harsh punishment under federal law for dumping a car battery into a pond, gas companies, thanks to what has become known as the Halliburton Loophole, are allowed to pump millions of gallons of fluid containing toxic chemicals into the ground, right next to our aquifers, without even having to identify them.

Claiming that the information is proprietary, drilling companies have still not come out and fully disclosed what fracking fluid is made of. But activists and researchers have been able to identify some of the chemicals used. They include such substances as benzene, ethylbenzene, toluene, boric acid, monoethanolamine, xylene, diesel-range organics, methanol, formaldehyde, hydrochloric acid, ammonium bisulfite, 2-butoxyethanol, and 5-chloro-2-methyl-4-isothiazotin-3-one. (Recently, in congressional testimony, drilling companies have confirmed the presence of many of these chemicals.) According to Theo Colborn, a noted expert on water issues and endocrine disruptors, at least half of the chemicals known to be present in fracking fluid are toxic; many of them are carcinogens, neurotoxins, endocrine disruptors, and mutagens. But Colborn estimates that a third of the chemicals in fracking fluid remain unknown to the public.

While the E.P.A. under Obama is finally undertaking a new review of fracking—a 2001 review commissioned by the Bush administration was tainted by conflicts of interest and suppression of science—that report is not expected to be completed until the end of 2012. Congressional hearings held by the House Energy and Commerce Committee have been taking place since 2009, but proposed legislation to get rid of the Halliburton Loophole has made little progress on Capitol Hill." Article and video>>>>

Read More

UPDATE 1-Oil firms want ruling lifting drill ban enforced

Wed Jun 23, 2010 7:47pm GMT

"(Adds details from request)

WASHINGTON June 23 (Reuters) - Hornbeck Offshore Services (HOS.N: Quote) and other companies that won an injunction blocking a six-month U.S. moratorium on deepwater drilling have asked thejudge to enforce his ruling after an Obama administration official said he would try to keep the ban in place.

In a federal court in New Orleans on Tuesday, Judge Martin Feldman granted an injunction blocking the moratorium on the grounds that it was too broad, arbitrary and not sufficiently justified despite the massive spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Obama officials said they would quickly appeal but have yet to do so, or request a stay of the ruling pending the appeal.

Additionally, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said on Wednesday he would try to reformulate the moratorium and would include criteria for ending it, prompting the request by Hornbeck and the other companies." More>>>>

Drilling Divides Fort Worth

ABC News

Coast Guard probes two deaths; containment cap

June 23, 2010, 12:41 p.m. EDT
By Steve Gelsi

"NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen said the agency is investigating two deaths during the overall oil spill response in the Gulf of Mexico, with more details expected to emerge in coming hours." More>>>>

New Blog Reports From the Front Lines of the BP Oil Spill

Press Release
SOURCE: Smith Stag, LLC
Jun 23, 2010 11:24 ET

"Oil Industry Nemesis New Orleans Attorney Stuart H. Smith Provides Hard-Hitting Behind-the-Scenes Commentary at

NEW ORLEANS, LA--(Marketwire - June 23, 2010) - New blogger Stuart H. Smith, a New Orleans-based attorney representing Gulf Coast fishermen, the Louisiana Environmental Action Network and an array of major commercial interests, today announced the launch of his backroom, no-punches-pulled blog focused exclusively on the spill ( Smith, a much-loathed legal heavy-weight in the world of Big Oil, is well known for his role as lead counsel in an oilfield radiation case that delivered a verdict of more than $1 billion against ExxonMobil.

"As a New Orleans native, an environmentalist and an attorney who has seen some really ugly stuff, this disaster makes me sick to my stomach, physically ill," says Smith, who lives in the French Quarter and has law offices on nearby Canal Street. "My new blog gives me a forum where I can cut loose a little, and give people a look at what's happening behind the scenes, behind the rhetoric and the B.S."

Awash in fresh daily and hourly content, "The Stuart H. Smith Blog," covers all things "oil spill" -- all the time. Commentary ranges from insight on complex legal issues to just how hard it is to "keep a civil tongue" when appearing on national TV with a lying oil executive. Smith developed the newly minted blog, with tagline "The Real Story From the Front Lines of the BP Oil Spill," as a go-to resource and safe e-haven for concerned citizens, members of the media and victims looking for answers. This is commentary from one of the brightest legal minds and one of the most impassioned players in this process of making the Gulf Coast whole again.

Blog main features include:
(1) a 24/7 ticker running the most informative headlines from across the media spectrum; (2) hard-hitting daily commentary on the most important and most controversial issues -- legal, political, environmental -- surrounding the spill; (3) "Guest Expert Blog Posts" from highly regarded toxicologists, physicians, petroleum engineers and environmentalists; (4) a twice-weekly updated feature, "The Oil Disaster By the Numbers," jammed with the very latest statistics on the spill from oil-flow estimates to total size of spill to impacted coastline to cleanup costs to damages paid; and (5) informative videos, photos, maps and more.

Stuart H. Smith
Stuart H. Smith (, a founding partner of SmithStag, LLC ( in New Orleans, has practiced law for 25 years and is recognized internationally as a crusader against major oil companies, like Chevron, Shell and ExxonMobil. He is a Louisiana native and environmental attorney representing the United Commercial Fisherman's Association and the Louisiana Environmental Action Network (LEAN) as well as an array of major commercial interests. Mr. Smith has been lead counsel on more than 100 oil pollution cases and is one of the few attorneys in the United States who has focused his practice almost entirely on finding remedies for victims of oil company pollution over the course of two decades. He has recently appeared on NBC Nightly News, CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360," CNBC, BBC World News and Fox News.

Media Contact:

Peter Wendel
Email Contact

(Otero) County GOP rallies troops

Republican candidates say constituents need to take back New Mexico in general election
By Duane Barbati, Staff Writer

"Statewide GOP candidates rallied the troops Tuesday to campaign for its election entries during the Republican Party of Otero County's monthly luncheon meeting."...

..."Commissioner of Public Lands candidate Matt Rush said the oil and gas industry is being regulated out of the state.

"We need to get some common sense back into our government," Rush said. "We need to get some common sense back into the rules and regulations that come out of Santa Fe because we are a lot better state then we have become. We have a lot more potential than we have been led to believe. We have the ability to get out there and truly make a difference in this state."

He said it's time for new leadership in the state because it's time for a "new New Mexico."

"The one thing people in Otero County understand is the importance of being able to drill in a environmentally sensitive manner on Otero Mesa," Rush said. "It would have a huge economic impact on this economy. People who say the Otero Mesa is pristine haven't see the places that I've seen. The best use of that land would be for the development of oil and gas. It's not pristine. There's no grazing. There's not much wildlife on it. It would be the best use of that property for our state (to develop oil and gas drilling)."' More>>>>

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

U.S. to issue new drilling moratorium order

Staff, Reuters · Tuesday, Jun. 22, 2010

"WASHINGTON -- U.S. Interior Secretary Kenneth Salazar said on Tuesday he would issue an order for a new moratorium on deepwater oil drilling after a scathing court ruling that found his first directive was too broad.

“I will issue a new order in the coming days that eliminates any doubt that a moratorium is needed, appropriate, and within our authorities,” Mr. Salazar said in a statement." More>>>>

County manager says fraud scandal isn't behind resignation

Phaedra Haywood | The New Mexican
Posted: Monday, June 21, 2010 - 6/22/10

"Roman Abeyta, who worked his way up from animal-control officer to become the top county administrator, resigned his job as county manager Monday.

His last day will be July 2. The County Commission has scheduled an emergency session at 1 p.m. today to discuss hiring an interim manager. " More>>>>

Santa Fe County website:

"Santa Fe County Commission Appoints Interim County Manager

Santa Fe –June 22, 2010 – The Board of County Commissioners (BCC) held an emergency meeting today. Commissioners discussed and reluctantly accepted the resignation of Roman Abeyta. The BCC appointed Steve Ross as interim County Manager until July 4, 2010. Penny Ellis-Green will take over interim duties July 5, 2010 until a permanent County Manager is found. Mr. Abeyta stated that he very much appreciated the opportunity to work at Santa Fe County and in particular, he loved working with staff and residents." More>>>>

Obama Drilling Moratorium Overturned: Who is Judge Martin Feldman?

From Politics Daily

"A graduate of Tulane Law School, class of 1957, Feldman was nominated by President Ronald Reagan in 1983. He has served on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana since that time. On May 19, Feldman was appointed to a seven-year term on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which overseas government wiretapping and surveillance requests. " More>>>>

The most recent Judge Feldman financial disclosure report from 2008, click here>>>>. The "Investments and Trusts" section is becoming of interest, such as to Mother Jones>>>>. "...District Court Judge Martin Feldman, he had holdings of up to $15,000 in Transocean in 2008. He has also recently owned stock in offshore drilling or oilfield service providers Halliburton, Prospect Energy, Hercules Offshore, Parker Drilling Co., and ATP Oil & Gas." -- Mother Jones>>>>

Deepwater Drilling Ban Lifted by New Orleans Federal Judge


"A New Orleans federal judge lifted the six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling imposed by President Barack Obama following the largest oil spill in U.S. history.

Obama temporarily halted all drilling in waters deeper than 500 feet on May 27 to give a presidential commission time to study improvements in the safety of offshore operations. Government lawyers told U.S. District Judge Martin Feldmanthat the sinking of the Deepwater Horizon rig off the Louisiana coast in April was a “game changer’’ that exposed the risks of offshore oil exploration." More>>>>

White House to appeal offshore drilling ruling: rpts


More to follow....

US Judge Rules Against Obama Administration on Drilling Ban

Reuters news break...story to follow.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Here's What Oil Industry Insiders Are Gossiping About The Oil Spill

Business Insider
The Money Game
The Mad Hedge Fund Trader | Jun. 21, 2010, 4:13 PM
This guest post comes courtesy of The Mad Hedge Fund Trader >

"Over the years, I have invested so much time wildcatting in the oil patch that I will never be wanting for great steaks at Nick & Sam's in Dallas, skyboxes at Cowboys games, and personally signed 8 X 10 glossy photographs of George W. Bush. So to get the skinny on the BP mess, I spent the weekend catching up with old friends who live with a permanent oil stain under their fingernails.

Some of the chatter that came back was amazing. BP has discovered the largest and most powerful well in history, and control of it may be outside existing technology. The previous record gusher was Union Oil Co.'s Lakeview well in Maricopa, California, which spewed out a staggering 100,000 barrels a day at its peak in 1910, and created an enormous oil lake in the central part of the state. Estimates for the BP well now range up to 50% more than that. The pressures at 18,000 feet are so enormous, that drilling two more relief wells might only result in creating two more oil spills.

If Obama doesn't want to take the nuclear option, (click here for my piece), then there will be no other alternative but for the spill to continue until the field exhausts itself or becomes capable, possibly some time next year." More>>>>

Louisiana Governor Asks Judge to Lift Deepwater Drilling Ban
By Laurel Brubaker Calkins

"June 21 (Bloomberg) -- Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and state Attorney General Buddy Caldwell asked a U.S. judge to lift a six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico within 30 days to avoid “turning an environmental disaster into an economic catastrophe.’’' More>>>>

Look for the LA Governor Bobby Jindal in the the below Drill, Baby, Drill Video:

Click the play button(s) above or double click on video for link.

In light of Gulf oil spill, stronger Great Lakes drilling bans proposed

Lake Scientist


There’s already a U.S. federal ban on all oil and natural gas offshore drilling in the Great Lakes, which has been in place since 2005. Canada similarly bans offshore oil drilling, but the nation does have roughly 500 offshore gas wells in Lake Erie, according to the Associated Press. Canadians also possess 23 horizontal wells, or “slant wells,” that drill for oil on shore but extend under Lake Erie.

“The Canadian oil and gas operations have not had an accident since 1959. However, I believe that the events in the Gulf Coast demonstrate that we must remain vigilant because a catastrophic accident could happen at any time,” Stabenow wrote in a letter to President Barack Obama last week.

Stabenow, a member of the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, asked Obama to review existing drilling operations with the Canadian government as well as put a complete ban on offshore drilling by either nation." More>>>>

BP rig worker reported oil leak weeks before Deepwater Horizon disaster

Oil & Gas Market blog

Excerpt from post: "He (Tyrone Benton, a rig worker) told the BBC's Panorama programme that both BP and Transocean, who owned the rig, were informed of the leak, and the faulty part -- a control pod -- was switched off rather than being repaired." More>>>>

Show Me the Oil Money


"In the wake of controversial comments made by Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) during a recent House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing, angry partisan reactions from both Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill were expectedly fierce. But the senior Texas Republican’s open apology to British Petroleum (BP) Chief Executive Officer Tony Hayward also threw a glaring spotlight on the influence of campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry in Washington. The ranking Republican member on the House Committee overseeing regulation of the energy industry issued an unusual apologia to Hayward during the embattled CEO’s testimony before irate legislators probing the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Barton, before a standing room only crowd of staffers, spectators and journalists, described the Obama Administration’s recent deal with BP to pay $20 billion for an oil spill victim escrow fund as “… a shakedown.”

“I’m ashamed of what happened in the White House,” Barton said in opening remarks to an otherwise subdued Hayward. “I think it is a tragedy of the first proportion that a private corporation can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown. I apologize. I do not want to live in a country where anytime a citizen or a corporation does something that is legitimately wrong is subject to some sort of political pressure that is, again, in my words, amounts to a shakedown. So I apologize.”

While reactions to Burton’s apology were immediate, as swift were the reactions of many political observers who noted the Texas Congressman’s ties to big oil. “Ordinarily, it’s not that shocking to see a Republican from Texas defend the petroleum industry,” says Nate Silver, a political polling analyst and founder of “But Rep. Barton’s comments to Tony Hayward obviously touched something of a raw nerve, with Republicans seeking to distance themselves from the comment while Democrats look for ways to exploit it.”' More>>>>

New Mexico v. Val Kilmer: Payback Time

(Image: Associated Press: Alleged trash talk is holding up a permit Val Kilmer wants for his ranch.)

(Edit, June 22, 2010: The irony of this article is that San Miguel County "backed up" the locals on these allegations cited, but did not back up the citizens to be on the San Miguel County oil and gas task force. See related San Miguel County posts below.)

Wall Street Journal
June 21, 2010

"Bygones are not always bygone amid the limestone cliffs and piñon groves of northern New Mexico.

When actor Val Kilmer recently applied for permits to turn his 6,000-acre ranch outside Santa Fe into an upscale bed-and-breakfast, several of his neighbors protested.

They weren't worried about traffic or noise or the prospect of intruding tourists. They were incensed about comments attributed to Mr. Kilmer in magazine articles dating to 2003 and 2005. And they didn't want him to get his way on the ranch unless he apologized.

"That's all he has to do, come and apologize," said Jose Garcia, who runs horses on a 50-acre ranch next to Mr. Kilmer's. "We're not intimidated by him."

Mr. Kilmer, who starred in "Tombstone," "The Doors," "Batman Forever" and, more recently, "MacGruber," was quoted—misquoted, he says—describing his rugged corner of New Mexico as "the homicide capital of the Southwest."

He went on to avow that "80% of the people in my county are drunk," requiring him to carry a gun for protection. That was in a 2003 interview with Rolling Stone.

In Esquire two years later, Mr. Kilmer was quoted—again, misquoted, he says—opining that he understands Vietnam better than its veterans, because most of them were "borderline criminal or poor … wretched kids" who landed in the military because they "got beat up by their dads" or "couldn't finagle a scholarship."

At a hearing last month on Mr. Kilmer's application, a half-dozen locals and veterans demanded the star apologize before being allowed to welcome paying guests onto his Pecos River Ranch. The county attorney, Jesus Lopez, backed them up. Mr. Kilmer's quotes were "incendiary" and, dated as they may be, created a "clear and present danger threatening public safety," he said.

Taken aback by the outrage, the San Miguel County Commission opted to postpone debate on the permits. The next day, Alex Tafoya, the planning and zoning director, wrote Mr. Kilmer's ranch manager to explain that "your application will remain tabled until Mr. Kilmer appears personally before the Board of County Commissioners" to answer questions about his alleged remarks.

Commissioners later clarified they weren't demanding the star appear in person. That is beyond their legal powers. But they suggested it would help his cause if he'd stop by.

"It's a situation that's pretty volatile," said David Salazar, the commission chair. "The opportunity is there for him to come and set the record straight."' More>>>>

San Miguel County is targeted for exploratory drilling. See related San Miguel County and County Commissioners posts:

Panel's makeup in dispute

Letter: A defining time for the area (San Miguel County NM)

San Miguel County Oil & Gas Ordinance Task Force

San Miguel County Oil & Gas Ordinance Task Force

Susana Martinez running for Governor by bashing the Santa Fe County Oil and Gas Ordiance & the OCD Pit Rule?

(San Miguel) County enacts drilling moratorium

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

(San Miguel) County Wants Drilling Rules

(San Miguel) County moves toward oil and gas moratorium


(San Miguel) County wants oil and gas regulations

Santa Fe (Oil and Gas) Opera Pork to be Frozen?

Opera Chic: Santa Fe Opera Drill for Young Singers

Possible drilling enrages some

Drilling lease gets Santa Fe Opera in hot water

Apparent Santa Fe Opera Standard Email Response

Rio Arriba County vs. Wildcatters

Lucrative Deal Has Sparked Criticism

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Daily Show -- Josh Fox Director, "Gasland"

The Daily Show
Comedy Central

June 21, 2010
Guest, Josh Fox, Director, "Gasland"

"The writer and filmmaker discusses his latest documentary about the environmental and social impact of the largest natural gas drilling boom in history."

Drill, Baby, Drill Video

Click the play button(s) above or double click on video for link.

Markey: Internal BP Document Shows Worst Case Scenario for Spill Could Be 100,000 Barrels Per Day

The Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming

Rep. Edward J. Markey, Chairman

"WASHINGTON (June 20, 2010) -- Today Representative Ed Markey (D-Mass.) released an internal BP document showing that the company's own analysis believed that a worst-case scenario, based on damage to the well bore, could result in 100,000 barrels of oil per day.

In the document, BP stated: If BOP and wellhead are removed and if we have incorrectly modeled the restrictions – the rate could be as high as ~ 100,000 barrels per day up the casing or 55,000 barrels per day up the annulus (low probability worst cases)

To read the document, CLICK HERE."

Link to website>>>>

Oil spill: BP to sue partner in Gulf oil well

Legal action aims to share clean-up costs as Anadarko is accused of 'shirking' responsibilities over spill
By Rowena Mason and Damian Reece
Published: 10:34PM BST 19 Jun 2010

"BP is preparing to sue its main partner in the leaking Gulf of Mexico oil field for its share of clean-up costs after the company, Anadarko, said BP's behaviour revealed "gross negligence" and that the ­accident was preventable.

In a fundamental split between the two companies with lead responsibility for the well, a senor BP source told The Sunday Telegraph that Anadarko was "shirking its responsibilities", not accepting its liabilities and that legal action in the US was now likely to follow.

Anadarko, which has a 25pc stake in the well, signalled this weekend that it will refuse to pay up.

BP has already sent the company one demand for payment but, the BP source said, had yet to receive any costs for the multi-billion ­dollar clean-up operation.

Jim Hackett, Anadarko's chief executive, launched a damning attack on BP, the majority owner and operating partner, alleging there were signs of "gross negligence or wilful misconduct".

"The mounting evidence clearly demonstrates that this tragedy was preventable and the direct result of BP's reckless decisions and actions," said Mr Hackett. "BP's behaviour and action is likely represent gross negligence or wilful misconduct."

Mitsui, the 10pc owner of the well, has made no decision on whether to admit liability for its share of costs, but is likely to join Anadarko in its refusal to contribute. BP could then also take legal action against that company as well." More>>>>

~~~ Poor, Joe. To whom does he apologize now? Oil and gas companies suing each other. Say it ain't so, Joe.

Related posts:

Oil & Gas Extremists Attack Obama, et. al. and Defend BP

Anadarko considers suing BP over ‘reckless’ actions

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Stephen Jones: Stand Up Against the Oily Black Tide

Democracy for New Mexico
June 18, 2010
"This is a post by contributing writer, Stephen Jones, who is a progressive political activist and a resident of Las Cruces, New Mexico."


"At the heart of this concern for BP and other too-big-to-fail multi-national corporations are the very insidious philosophies that Benjamin Franklin and the rest of our nation’s founders warned us about. Rather than representing the voters that elected them to serve in a representative form of government, the GOP has sold its soul to the unaccountable international corporate-combines that own them and grease the pockets of their willing puppets with obscene amounts of cold cash. To paraphrase GOP leader Grover Norquist, we are in mortal danger of the Republican Party drowning our cherished democratic republic in a bathtub." Link>>>>

See related post:

Oil & Gas Extremists Attack Obama, et. al. and Defend BP

EXCLUSIVE: BP Funds Front Group Claiming Oil Spill Jobs Are Better Than ‘Normal’ Ones, Storm Will Clean Up Oil

Think Progress
By Lee Fang, June 18, 2010, 4:10 pm

"Shortly after BP’s catastrophic oil spill in the gulf, the New York Times spoke to Quenton Dokken, the executive director of the Gulf of Mexico Foundation, about the environmental impact. “The sky is not falling,” Dokken told the paper, adding “it isn’t the end of the Gulf of Mexico.” ProPublica dug into the Gulf of Mexico Foundation, and reported that the Times had failed to disclose that Dokken and his group are funded by a consortium of oil companies with business in the gulf, including companies involved in the Deepwater Horizon rig, Transocean and Anadarko. Today, the Times reported that the Foundation has been downplaying effects of the spill, possibly because of its funding from oil companies.

ThinkProgress has obtained more documents and evidence that the Gulf of Mexico Foundation has operated as a front for the oil companies involved in the spill. In addition to Transocean and Anadarko, this 2008 “Guardians of the Gulf” award ceremony hosted by the Foundation shows that BP is also a “CEO council member” of the nonprofit. View a screenshot here" and above. More>>>>

Oil & Gas Extremists Attack Obama, et. al. and Defend BP

GOP House candidate rips Luján for 'assault' on BP
Steve Terrell | The New Mexican Posted: Friday, June 18, 2010

"U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, caused a big stink in Congress this week when he accused President Barack Obama of "shaking down" BP for damages caused by the terrible oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Even Republican Congressional leaders winced, forcing Barton to apologize for using the word "shakedown."

But here in New Mexico, Republican Congressional candidate Tom Mullins said in an interview Friday that Barton's controversial statement had some valid points.

While he didn't use the word "shakedown," Mullins, a Farmington oilman, stood by recent comments he made in his campaign blog in which he accused his opponent, U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján, of "personally reaching into the pockets of corporations" because Luján was one of 40 members of Congress signing a letter demanding BP not pay shareholders dividends this year.

"Luján's words and actions along with this administration have not been helpful to the people on the Gulf Coast nor the many New Mexicans who are shareholders in British Petroleum (BP)," Mullins wrote.

Earlier this week, at a meeting with Obama, BP executives agreed to set aside $20 billion for damage claims from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Tens of thousands of barrels of oil a day have been spilling into the Gulf for nearly two months from a BP well that exploded. " More>>>>

Another of Mullins' fringe ideas:

"But political inexperience can rear its ugly head and did so this week for longshot 3rd Congressional District candidate Tom Mullins. Mullins, in a May radio interview, suggested putting land mines on the border to stop illegal immigration, saying it is something that he heard.

Democracy for New Mexico has the audio, and the transcript is below the fold. Mullins quickly realized that he had went too far and backtracked, but it shows what happens when unvetted and unknown candidates make gaffes.

It also shows the dangers of playing too much to the fringe of your base. There have been suggestions about putting mines on the border, but never from a candidate for Congress (at least not in my knowledge). It's usually something that is reserved for anonymous internet chatroom people and commenters on internet stories." (Tom Mullins' landmines-on-the-border proposal FBIHOP by: Matt Tue Jun 15, 2010 at 18:19:04 PM MDT)

~~~ It is bewildering since post financial deregulation and subsequent Lehman's bankruptcy and financial crisis, and post the Energy Act of 2005 that subsidizes the oil and gas industry while exempting the industry from many regulations and the subsequent BP disaster, extremists are jumping into the political arena to promote deregulation and extol the virtues of corporatism. In such a climate, Adam Smith would be branded a Socialist.

Related post:

Anadarko considers suing BP over ‘reckless’ actions