Thursday, October 28, 2010

Official Spill Investigation: Halliburton Ignored Well Flaws Too

Fast Money
by Austin Carr

"BP isn't the only culprit in the Gulf oil spill--Halliburton deserves much of the blame too, according to the first official investigation into the matter. The presidential commission probing the spill said Thursday that both BP and Halliburton knew the cement mixture sealing the well might not hold, but disregarded its flaws.

The New York Times reports that after three laboratory tests of the cement mixture, Halliburton determined it fell short of industry standards. One test which was shared with BP on March 8--more than a month before the spill--revealed the mixture to be unstable. Two subsequent tests showed similar results, but were not delivered to BP." More>>>>

'Fracking' mobilises uranium in marcellus shale

Science Centric

"Scientific and political disputes over drilling Marcellus shale for natural gas have focused primarily on the environmental effects of pumping millions of gallons of water and chemicals deep underground to blast through rocks to release the natural gas.

But University at Buffalo researchers have now found that that process - called hydraulic fracturing or 'fracking' - also causes uranium that is naturally trapped inside Marcellus shale to be released, raising additional environmental concerns.

The research will be presented at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America in Denver on Nov. 2." More>>>>

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

KSFR, "Living on the Edge": Senator Peter Wirth and Candidate for Governor Diane Denish

Thursday, October 28th from 6pm to 7pm, Living on the Edge will have a special one hour energy forum hosted by David Bacon. Guests will be New Mexico Senator Peter Wirth and candidate for governor Diane Denish. Some areas of interest would be the New Mexico Oil Conservation Division “pit rule,” local oil and gas ordinances and State versus local authority. If you have questions for the guests, you may call in to the show or you can post them on the Drilling Santa Fe blog for the host to “harvest.”

Link to DSF post:

Thursday, October 21, 2010

DOI requests Inspector General Office renew investigative inquiries on Henke

BLM Director Bob Abbey is now requesting of the Acting Inspector General of the Department of Interior to "renew its investigative inquiries regarding certain questionable activities that may occurred during the tenure of Steve Henke, to include activities which eventually led to his employment by the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association." Link to letter>>>>

Related post:

Abbey rejects calls for ethics probe of N.M. field office

Denish & Martinez v. the "Pit Rule" & Local Authority

The New Mexico Governor's race between Denish and Martinez has greatly generated concern regarding future assaults on the Oil Conservation Division "Pit Rule" and local oil and gas ordinances. The difference between the two candidates seems to be a matter of degree. It has been opined that Martinez is much more extreme than Denish when promoting the oil and gas industry agenda (e.g., Martinez will undermine private-property protections by Kim Sorvig).

In either case, the "Pit Rule" will likely be "revisited", again, to weaken it or even repeal it, and the regulatory milieu could likely be the State versus local authority. The attacks will be justified by shaky statistics and motivated by fear to avoid State budget shortfalls.

In all, the next Governor and upcoming legislative sessions bear watching.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Gas drilling has blighted my life

High Country News
We need energy -- but not at the cost of clean water
Essay - October 12, 2010 by Louis Meeks


We’ve lived around natural gas development in Pavillion since 1998. But 10 years ago, the drilling ramped way up to 100 or more wells, one large compressor plant and a smaller one. That same year, our neighbors began having problems with their water wells. Not long after Encana, a natural gas company from Canada, drilled a gas well near my neighbor's house, his water well began to produce black, nasty water that smelled and tasted like gas. My neighbors talked to Encana and got help to install a reverse osmosis system to treat their water.

In 2004, Encana drilled a well about 500 feet from my house and even closer to my drinking water well. In the past, we always had clean, fresh water, but soon our water began to taste and smell like gas and the well began producing less water. Encana agreed to test the water and chlorinate it, and during testing the company hauled water into a cistern for us.

About seven months later, I decided to drill a new well since I was pretty sure the old one was contaminated. While drilling the new well, we hit gas, our new water well blew out and we were forced to evacuate our home. The state Homeland Security force and local firefighters closed off all roads to our home until we could get the gas contained without igniting it. You could hear and smell the plume, blowing 30 feet high under tremendous pressure. Encana cemented the well shut, and it was three days before we could return home.

We continued to haul in drinking water, only using the well water for household use and showering. It was during this time that we started having strange symptoms -- our mouths were dry and Donna’s eyes kept stinging.

We had a hydrogeologist and drilling experts come out. They told us hydraulic fracturing had caused methane to migrate and collect underground. That meant that the fracturing chemicals were also moving around." More>>>>

Halliburton’s quarterly net income doubles

"NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — Halliburton Co.’s third-quarter net income doubled, the energy-services giant reported Monday, as North American activity offset a slowdown tied to the deepwater-drilling moratorium in the Gulf of Mexico." More>>>>

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Second Public Hearing Set for Sustainable Growth Management Plan (SGMP)

Santa Fe County Email:

"Santa Fe- October 14, 2010 - The Board of County Commissioners (BCC) will hold the second public hearing on the revised final Sustainable Growth Management Plan (SGMP) at their regular Board of County Commissioners Meeting on Tuesday, November 9 at 6 p.m. in the County Commission Chambers. The BCC held a second special work session for the SGMP on Tuesday, October 5. During the study session, the board made several recommendations for revisions, including changing the name from the Sustainable Land Development Plan (SLDP) to the Sustainable Growth Management Plan (SGMP).

The revised final draft of the SGMP will be posted on the County website November 1, 2010. Prior draft versions of the Plan, along with past packet materials, public comments, and staff recommendations are available at by clicking the “Sustainable Growth Management Plan” link under Hot Topics. For more information about the SGMP or the upcoming final public hearing, contact Planning Manager, Robert Griego (505) 986-6215 or email "

Abbey rejects calls for ethics probe of N.M. field office

Scott Streater, E&E reporter


..."In a one-page letter delivered to environmental groups last week, BLM Director Bob Abbey said the matter, which was investigated by the Interior inspector general's office and reviewed by the Justice Department, is closed."...

..."Henke, a 34-year agency veteran, retired from BLM in May and began his position with the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association on Aug. 1.

But just as Abbey sought to end the fracas over Henke, the Washington, D.C.-based Project on Government Oversight, a nonpartisan watchdog group, released a letter citing Henke's misconduct and criticizing BLM for soft-peddling its response to his actions, which he admitted to his superior, BLM New Mexico State Director Linda Rundell last April."...

..."POGO argued in the five-page letter to Abbey and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar that the department effectively ignored credible allegations against Henke, and that "BLM's senior management did not appropriately respond" to a June inspector general's reportthat, among other things, found that Henke "took gifts from Williams Exploration and Production, a prohibited source, in the form of golf [tournament] tickets, lodging and meals" (Land Letter, Sept. 16).

Williams E&P is one of the nation's largest natural gas firms, with extensive drilling operations in New Mexico's San Juan Basin, where the Farmington Field Office has jurisdiction.

Brian asked Salazar and Abbey to request a second IG investigation to determine whether "other BLM Farmington office employees have inappropriate relationships with companies or associations with a stake in BLM's operations" that has resulted in a conflict of interest."

Related post:

Report: Former BLM manager took oil company gifts

Philly academy study finds gas drilling threatens streams

"A preliminary study by Academy of Natural Sciences researchers suggests that even without spills or other accidents, drilling for natural gas in Pennsylvania's rich Marcellus Shale formation could degrade nearby streams.

The researchers compared watersheds where there was no or little drilling to watersheds where there was a high density of drilling, and found significant changes.

Water conductivity, an indicator of contamination by salts that are a component of drilling wastewater, was almost twice as high in streams with high-density drilling.

Populations of salamanders and aquatic insects, animals sensitive to pollution, were 25 percent lower in streams with the most drilling activity.

An industry spokesman declined to comment on the findings.

The researchers at the academy, the nation's oldest natural-science research center and a leader in stream biology, emphasized that their study was not looking at drilling accidents or other irregularities, but whether - and if so, at what point - drilling posed a potential for harm.

David Velinsky, vice president of the academy's Patrick Center for Environmental Research, said of the early findings: "This suggests there is indeed a threshold at which drilling - regardless of how it is practiced - will have a significant impact on an ecosystem."

A certain number of well pads in a given area "might be OK," he said. "Conversely, it may not be OK."

The intent of the research, he said, is "to try to find where that stands, to look at cumulative impacts across a gradient of drilling."' More>>>>

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

U.S. ends drilling ban in Gulf of Mexico

By Steve Gelsi, MarketWatch

"NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — Oil-service shares rose Tuesday as the U.S. formally ended the drilling moratorium in the Gulf of Mexico and laid out a new regulatory process that will affect roughly 36 rigs." More>>>>

Friday, October 8, 2010

Santa Fe Co. Resolution to Support EMNRD Ortiz Mountain Ranch Purchase

At the next Santa Fe County Board of County Commissions (BCC) meeting, Oct. 12 beginning at 2pm, a "Resolution Supporting The Proposal By New Mexico Energy, Minerals And Natural Resources Department To Purchase The Ortiz Mountain Ranch To Create A 12,142 Acre State Park (Commission)" is on the agenda. Agenda Link>>>>

Related posts:

No Plans for Mine on Ortiz Ranch

Mineral Rights Questions Crop Up at Meeting

Expansion of Cerrillos Hills State Park to be Nixed?

Governor Richardson Announces Plan to Expand Cerrillos Hills State Park and Establish a Wild Horse Sanctuary

La Bajada Mesa: "Gateway to Santa Fe"


"La Bajada Mesa & Escarpment--the spectacular scenic, cultural and historic landmark that spans across I-25 from the Cerrillos Hills to the Santa Fe River Basin--remains on the Most Endangered Places list*.

However, there is hope that a portion of it can be rescued from inappropriate development.

Santa Fe County has purchased 470 acres near La Cienega, an area previously known as Santa Fe Canyon Ranch, now La Bajada Ranch. Just how this land (that includes a large house) is to be "used", whether as Open Space or residential housing, a Park or developed as neighborhoods, is being determined. The Board of County Commissioner's decision will be based partly on a County Survey that will conclude this Friday.

La Bajada Mesa is the southern gateway to Santa Fe. There is a growing consensus that this land should be a protected viewscape. THE COMMISSIONERS NEED TO HEAR FROM THE COMMUNITY THAT SUCH A CONSENSUS EXISTS.

If you agree please personalize (if you wish) and paste the following into the on-line survey that asks "What do you feel are the most appropriate ways to use this land?" (Item #1):

This area should be protected as part of the "Gateway to Santa Fe". It is an important part of La Bajada Mesa a spectacular visual and historic landmark at entrance to Santa Fe. As part of the Rio Grande National Heritage Area it should be preserved, protected and used for Park oriented activities. This could include open space, trails, traditional farm/ranch activities, greenhouses, gardens, visitors center, events center, solar energy projects, tours and seminars.

The next page and a half of the Survey are simple multiple choice. We would strongly support #2 and other Park related items including #21.

Santa Fe Canyon Ranch Survey

for the RCA


* Footnote: La Bajada Mesa & Escarpment are on the Most Endangered Places list of The NM Heritage Preservation Alliance 2003. Contains brief history & photos:
( )"

Energy, environment rules may roll back with new governor

Staci Matlock | The New Mexican
Posted: Thursday, October 07, 2010

"Neither of New Mexico's gubernatorial candidates — Democrat Diane Denish and Republican Susana Martinez — are likely to put environmental issues quite as high on their agenda as Gov. Bill Richardson.

They've already indicated they might overturn or weaken some environmental rules Richardson's administration has put in place, such as the pit rule for wastes from oil and gas production and the greenhouse gas emissions cap. " More>>>>


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Flower Mound wins round in court in fight over gas drilling

By WENDY HUNDLEY / The Dallas Morning News

"A Denton County district court judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by two residents against the town of Flower Mound over gas drilling.

State District Judge Margaret Barnes ruled Monday that the court lacked jurisdiction in this case, according to the town." More>>>>

Monday, October 4, 2010

Santa Fe County Special Sustainable Land Development Plan (SLDP) Work Session


"The Board of County Commissioners will hold a second BCC Work Session on the SLDP, Tuesday, October 5 at 8:30 a.m. in the County Commission Chambers located at 102 Grant Ave, Santa Fe, NM. The work session will allow the Board another opportunity to review and discuss staff recommendations and outstanding issues.

The Agenda and Board packet material for the workshop is available on the County website at the link below.

· SLDP Worksheet

· Public Comment and Final Evaluation and Recommendation Matrix

· SLDP Objectives by Chapter

· Public Comments

The SLDP Draft, past packet material, public comments, and staff recommendations are available at by clicking the “Revised Sustainable Land Development Plan” link under Hot Topics.

For more information about the SLDP, contact Planning Manager Robert Griego, (505) 986-6215 or email"

This is not a public hearing, but the public is welcome to attend.

No Plans for Mine on Ortiz Ranch

By Jessica Dyer
Albuquerque Journal Staff Writer

"The property that Gov. Bill Richardson wants to buy for a state park and wild horse sanctuary is under lease for mineral resource exploration, but the mineral rights' owner said there are no current plans for mining.

Anne Russ said last week that her family owns the mineral rights to the 12,000 acres of land three miles south of Madrid known as the Ortiz Mountain Ranch and that the rights have been sublet to Santa Fe Gold for exploration.

The lease runs for another five years, but there are no current plans to mine, she added.

"We've just leased for exploration, but there really isn't anything concrete in the works," Russ said.

The property's mineral rights came up last week when New Mexico State Parks Director Dave Simon spoke to the Santa Fe County Commission about the proposal to buy the Ortiz Mountain Ranch land to expand the nearby Cerrillos Hills State Park — which sits on land owned primarily by the county — and to establish a wild horse sanctuary.

The governor's office last month announced the plan to use $2.8 million in federal stimulus funding for the purchase. Richardson said the investment would boost tourism while also creating jobs and providing recreation opportunities for the public.

..."But, she wrote, "It is uncertain if these deposits will be mined in the near future, because of uncertainties in the economy, fulfilling regulatory requirements, and potential local opposition to mining."

Russ' grandfather purchased the Ortiz Land Grant in the 1940s but quickly sold the surface rights, she said.

Russ said her family leases the mineral rights at the Ortiz Mountain Ranch to Ortiz Mines Inc., which then sub-let them to Santa Fe Gold. Russ is the president of Ortiz Mines. Ortiz Mines had previously leased about 65,000 acres of mineral rights in the Galisteo Basin to Tecton Energy. But Tecton's plans to drill for oil and gas in the area never came to fruition after they faced intense local opposition." More>>>>

Friday, October 1, 2010

Fracking film earns Emmy

Tom Sharpe | The New Mexican

"Three local filmmakers got an Emmy this week for Split Estate, their documentary about the health and environmental consequences of "fracking" — injecting chemicals underground to stimulate natural gas production.

Debra Anderson, the producer and director, and the two researchers, Mitchell Marti and Matt Vest, shared the award for "Outstanding Individual Achievement in a Craft: Research."

The award was announced Monday during the "News and Documentary Emmys" from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. The academy's better-known "Primetime Emmys" ceremony was held a month earlier.

On Monday, ABC World News anchor Diane Sawyer announced the research award during a ceremony at the Lincoln Center in New York City.

Anderson, Marti and Vest attended the event, where the other half-dozen nominees for the research award were big-time productions that had aired on HBO, Frontline and PBS.

"I definitely was not expecting to win because the competition was intense," Anderson said. "So we were just enjoying the evening and we were completely shocked when they read our name."' More>>>>