Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Banks Grow Wary of Environmental Risks

(Image NYT: A West Virginia surface mine.)

The New York Times


Published: August 30, 2010

"Blasting off mountaintops to reach coal in Appalachia or churning out millions of tons of carbon dioxide to extract oil from sand in Alberta are among environmentalists’ biggest industrial irritants. But they are also legal and lucrative.

For a growing number of banks, however, that does not seem to matter.

After years of legal entanglements arising from environmental messes and increased scrutiny of banks that finance the dirtiest industries, several large commercial lenders are taking a stand on industry practices that they regard as risky to their reputations and bottom lines." More>>>>

Sunday, August 29, 2010

With Neighbors Unaware, Toxic Spill at a BP Plant

The New York Times
Published: August 29, 2010

"TEXAS CITY, Tex. — While the world was focused on the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, a BP refinery here released huge amounts of toxic chemicals into the air that went unnoticed by residents until many saw their children come down with respiratory problems.
Michael Stravato for The New York Times

Refinery smokestacks tower over homes in Texas City, Tex.

For 40 days after a piece of equipment critical to the refinery’s operation broke down, a total of 538,000 pounds of toxic chemicals, including the carcinogen benzene, poured out of the refinery.

Rather than taking the costly step of shutting down the refinery to make repairs, the engineers at the plant diverted gases to a smokestack and tried to burn them off, but tens of thousands of pounds still escaped into the air, according to state environmental officials.

Neither the state nor the oil company informed neighbors or local officials about the pollutants until two weeks after the release ended, and angry residents of Texas City have signed up in droves to join a $10 billion class-action lawsuit against BP. The state attorney general, Greg Abbott, has also sued the company, seeking fines of about $600,000." More>>>>

Facility will clean the water produced during drilling

TOM MAST Casper Star-Tribune The Billings Gazette | Posted: Saturday, August 28, 2010 11:15 pm

"CASPER — A new facility in the Red Desert west of Rawlins promises to provide oil and gas operators with an environmentally friendly choice for handling water produced during drilling.

Oil and gas drilling produces large amounts of water, much of which is contaminated with oil, hydrofracturing chemicals and mineral solids.

Red Desert Water Reclamation’s $8 million, 100-acre plant can treat about 20,000 barrels of produced water daily and render it clean enough for agricultural use, said Richard Cyr, senior vice president of Cate Street Capital. It will open in October.

Portsmouth, N.H.-based Cate Street Capital owns the Red Desert project; Clean Runner, which developed the technology, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Cate Street Capital.

Cyr said oil and gas operators typically used one of two methods to handle produced water.

First, the water can be reinjected, a technique whose days are probably numbered, Cyr said. Or oil and gas operators can put water into evaporation ponds.

At the Red Desert plant, water can be cleaned and reused to a quality level suitable for irrigation or it can be reused in hydrofracturing. Oil in the water can be recovered and sold, he said." More>>>>

CDRC Recommends Approval of Sustainable Land Development Plan (SLDP) to Board of County Commissioners

Santa Fe County Press Release

"Santa Fe – August 27, 2010- The County Development Review Committee (CDRC) held a Special Meeting Thursday, August 26th and provided a recommendation on the final draft of the Sustainable Land Development Plan (SLDP) after holding the 10th Public Hearing on the plan. The CDRC unanimously approved a recommendation to move the SLDP forward with recommendations to the Board of County Commissioners (BCC).

A Special BCC study session on the SLDP is scheduled for September 14, 2010 at 9 a.m. in the County Commission Chambers. The study session will allow the Board an opportunity to review the plan, plan recommendations, and outstanding issues. The Board will also hold a Public Hearing on the SLDP. Additional Public Hearings on the SLDP will be scheduled after the study session.

The SLDP Draft, along with the CDRC presentation and the packet material presented at the August 26th meeting, is available at www.santafecounty.org under Hot Topics click the “Revised Sustainable Land Development Plan” link.

For further information about SLDP or upcoming meetings, you may also contact Planning Manager Robert Griego, (505) 986-6215 or email rgriego@santafecounty.org. "

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Oil lobby's spending blows away environmental groups

USA Today

"The oil and gas industry outspent environmentalists nearly eight-fold in federal lobbying on climate change legislation, which has failed to pass Congress, a recent report shows." More>>>>

Monday, August 23, 2010

Report: Former BLM manager took oil company gifts

The Associated Press

Monday, August 23, 2010; 6:07 PM

"SANTA FE, N.M. -- An investigation has found that a former Bureau of Land Management official in New Mexico who oversaw one of the largest onshore mineral production areas in the U.S. took gifts from an oil company and misused travel funds.

Details of the Interior Department probe were released Monday in documents obtained by an environmental group through a records request.

The investigation says former Farmington BLM district manager Steve Henke (heen-KEY') took gifts from Williams Exploration and Production - golf tickets, lodging and meals - and solicited donations for his son's youth baseball teams.

Henke retired in May to become head of the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association. He says no regulatory favors were exchanged with the industry." Washington Post>>>>

Related posts:

Steve Henke, BLM Official hired as president of NMOGA

Groups seek investigation over oil industry hire

N.M. Oil and Gas Association names new president

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Sustainable Land Development Plan (SLDP) Special Meeting Aug. 26th

Santa Fe County Press Release

Santa Fe – August 19, 2010-The County Development Review Committee (CDRC) will hold a Special Meeting Thursday, August 26 at 6 p.m. in the County Commission Chambers. The Public Hearing will allow the CDRC to make recommendations on the Sustainable Land Development Plan (SLDP)

The Public Hearing on the SLDP will allow for public comments before the SLDP moves to the Board of County Commission (BCC). A Special BCC study session on the SLDP is scheduled for September 14, 2010 at 9 a.m. in the County Commission Chambers. The study session will allow the Board an opportunity to review the plan and will allow for public comment. Public Hearings on the SLDP will be scheduled after the study session.

The SLDP Draft is available at www.santafecounty.org under Hot Topics click “Revised Sustainable Land Development Plan” or use the direct links, SLDP Draft: http://www.co.santa-fe.nm.us/userfiles/SLDPFinalDraftJune.pdf . Background material, staff recommendations and public comments on the SLDP included in the CDRC packet material will be posted on the County website prior to the BCC meeting.

For further information about SLDP or upcoming meetings, you may also contact Planning Manager Robert Griego, (505) 986-6215 or email rgriego@santafecounty.org.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Oil Group Plans ‘Citizen’ Rallies in 5 States to Oppose Measures

"The American Petroleum Institute will sponsor rallies in five states next month aimed at linking the oil and gas industry to the health of the U.S. economy and blunting legislation it opposes in Congress.

API, the industry’s largest trade group, plans events with oil-company employees starting Sept. 1 in three Texas cities to oppose repealing tax breaks and increasing liability on companies for oil spills. Supporters say the legislation will help ensure offshore drillers are more cautious after the blowout of a BP Plc well spilled an estimated at 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico." More>>>>

Oil & Gas subsidies artificially lower fossil energy prices and hurt renewable energy competitiveness


"American taxpayer funding of oil and gas exploration keeps the price of fossil energy artificially low, a study conducted by Wood Mackenzie for the American Petroleum Institute shows.

According to an article in the Oil & Gas Journal, the study found that eliminating tax deductions for intangible drilling costs and for US oil and gas production expenses would "shift the average break-even points for US oil and gas development from $47/bbl and $5.40/Mcf, respectively, to $52/bbl and $6/Mcf."' More>>>>

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Carbon Cap Gets Hearing in Santa Fe this Week

Public News Service

August 16, 2010

"SANTA FE, N.M. - The New Mexico Environmental Improvement Board (EIB) opens hearings today on a proposal to address climate change by cutting the state's carbon emissions to pre-1990 levels by 2020. The petition to do that was originally filed in 2008 by the group New Energy Economy, but has been tied up in courts by the oil and gas industry and some business groups until now. " More>>>>

Monday, August 16, 2010

Pitt data on oil and gas leases gauges local Marcellus Shale activity since 2003


"PITTSBURGH - As Marcellus Shale activity sweeps Western Pennsylvania, a new University of Pittsburgh database reveals that approximately 7 percent of Allegheny County's land has been leased for drilling and extraction since 2003. In addition, the number of properties in the county leased for oil and gas exploration increased by 322 percent between 2008 and 2009.

Researchers in Pitt's University Center for Social and Urban Research (UCSUR) used leases filed with the Allegheny County Department of Real Estate to create an interactive map of the more than 2,000 parcels in Allegheny County leased for oil and gas exploration between 2003 and May 2010. The map also indicates the people or companies that bought the leases. The map is available on UCSUR's Web site at www.ucsur.pitt.edu/thepub.php through the Pittsburgh Urban Blog, or the PUB, a new service established by UCSUR to make research on regional statistics and trends readily available. It was created by the Pittsburgh Neighborhood and Community Information System (PNCIS), Pitt's online database of statistical maps." More>>>>

U.S. to require new reviews for offshore drilling

USA Today

"The federal government will require environmental reviews for new offshore drilling projects and ban "categorical exclusions" while it conducts a review on how exemptions to oil and gas companies are granted, the Interior Department announced Monday.

The decision follows a report by the Council on Environmental Quality on the former Minerals Management Service that found BP used decades-old data--exclusions written in 1981 and 1986-- to drill its busted well in the Gulf of Mexico." More>>>>

Thursday, August 5, 2010

BP: Cautious cheers as well saga winds down

Houston Chronicle
by Brett Clanton
Aug. 4, 2010, 10:41PM

"BP's successful static kill of its Macondo well inspired cautious celebration Wednesday at the company and even at the White House that the three-month spill saga was near an end, as the government reported it has accounted for most of the spilled oil.

"The long battle to stop the leak and contain the oil is finally close to coming to an end," said President Barack Obama.

BP said, however, that while the procedure was a milestone, it still plans to seal the well with cement in separate operations from the wellhead on the floor of the Gulf of Mexico and through a relief well that will intercept the Macondo near its reservoir 13,000 feet beneath the seafloor." More>>>>

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Preserving state's hidden gems

Tom Sharpe | The New Mexican
August 2, 2010


"More than 8,000 acres north of Mora, which is described as one of New Mexico's most unchanged areas, has been nominated as a "cultural and agricultural landscape" for the State Register of Cultural Properties.

Malcolm Ebright, who wrote the nomination for the Guadalupita/Coyote Historic District, said the area historically "was kind of an end of the line. ...

"We just have to hope it doesn't get too much recognition," he said. "We want it to be preserved and keep it a secret a little bit."

The Cultural Properties Review Committee is to decide whether to list the district on the state register this month. "...

..."In an interview, Ebright said the listing on the state register would let homeowners in the district get state income-tax breaks for repairs consistent with the local style. "If someone wanted to do a major development or drill for oil and gas or put a cell tower or something, they would have to jump through more hoops," he said." Article>>>>