Thursday, September 30, 2010

Pa. DEP targets Texas driller for tainted water

Associated Press

"DIMOCK, Pa. — Pennsylvania's top environmental regulator says the state will sue a Houston-based drilling company unless it agrees to pay nearly $12 million to extend a public water line to at least 18 residents whose water wells have been contaminated with methane gas.

John Hanger held a news conference Thursday in the small northeastern Pennsylvania town of Dimock, where tainted water wells are raising concerns about the consequences of gas drilling in the gas-rich Marcellus Shale.

Hanger blamed the methane contamination on faulty natural gas wells drilled by Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. Cabot vigorously denies it is responsible for the pollution. Cabot's CEO issued a scathing public rebuke of Hanger this week, accusing him of "political pandering."

Tensions between Cabot and Dimock residents are escalating. A resident was charged with disorderly conduct last week for an incident with a gun. In response, Cabot has hired armed guards to accompany employees onto residential properties. Hanger pleaded for calm Thursday, saying, "Put the guns away."

Mineral Rights Questions Crop Up at Meeting

By Jessica Dyer
Journal Northern Bureau

"SANTA FE — Another question has been raised about the governor's proposal to expand the Cerrillos Hills State Park and create a wild horse sanctuary by buying 12,000 acres of privately owned land south of Madrid: What about the property's mineral rights?"...

Energy, Mineral and Natural Resources Department spokeswoman Jodi McGinnis Porter said in an interview that the state believes Ann Russ owns the mineral rights. Russ, whose family acquired the Ortiz land grant in the 1940s, served as president of the Ortiz Mining Company. She could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

The mining company leased about 65,000 acres of mineral rights in the area to Tecton Energy, which sparked a major controversy a few years ago with its plans to drill for oil and gas in the Galisteo Basin. Intense public opposition eventually led Tecton to back off from the plan.

County Commissioner Liz Stefanics said she hoped there was some desire by the state to eventually purchase mineral rights to the Ortiz Mountain Ranch property.

"We can preserve the land by buying it," Stefanics said. "But if someone has mineral rights they can still do whatever they want to."' More>>>>

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Odorless, colorless: The quiet rise of American Big Gas
By Katie Benner, writer and Shelley DuBois, reporter

"FORTUNE -- The big draw at the Broome County Forum Theater in Binghamton, NY this September wasn't the usual fare of pro-wrestling matches, circus performances, or headliners like Rob Zombie. It was the sight of locals testifying before the Environmental Protection Agency. Two by two, neighbors stepped forward to argue for and against a controversial drilling technique called horizontal hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

While the process has been the natural gas industry's greatest boon in the last decade, fracking opponents who rely on well water fear fracking will ruin their water supply, and some say it already has. After holding similar meetings in Dallas, TX, Denver, CO, and Canonsburg, PA, the EPA came to Binghamton to gather public input for its upcoming study on the relationship between fracking and drinking. The issue is so contentious that New York State has placed a temporary ban on the practice.

Those who have followed the national controversy over fracking are familiar with scenes like the Broome County hearing. EPA panel members pleaded for data and input regarding their study (which will not be released before 2012). One concerned landowner, local pastor Emrys Tiller, offered up his property for the study. And people who want corporations like Chesapeake Energy (CHK, Fortune 500) and Halliburton (HAL, Fortune 500) worry that they will miss out on jobs and money if the natural gas industry is forced to slow down." More>>>>

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


"Santa Fe – September 28, 2010 – 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. The work session will allow the Board another opportunity to review and discuss staff recommendations and outstanding issues. Public hearings on the SLDP will be scheduled after this work session.

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

# # #


Kristine Mihelcic


Is air quality the next big worry over natural gas drilling?
By: Patrick Cobbs

"In Washington County, Pennsylvania, to build her dream home. It was going to be that perfect place to raise children. She and her husband have two.

Then the natural gas drillers came.

By the time the home in Mount Pleasant Township was finished, four gas wells had sprung up on neighboring parcels — along with a 4 million gallon impoundment pond to store fluids used in the drilling process known as hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.” Nearby were also a gas pipeline compressor station, and a liquid natural gas processing plant. The facilities were operated by three separate companies.

So our 10 acres in the country is now 10 acres in an industrial site.

Researchers say risks may be posed by living near such a drilling site. Benzene, radioactive strontium and arsenic can come up from these wells after fracking. Natural gas itself carries very high concentrations of volatile organic chemicals.

One possible worry is air quality. The state’s Department of Environmental Protection isn’t set up to keep a close eye on air quality at all the Marcellus Shale gas sites that now dot the state." More>>>>

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Split Estate Wins an Emmy!

"Last night at Lincoln Center in New York, Split Estate was awarded an Emmy for Outstanding Individual Achievement in a Craft: Research."

Monday, September 27, 2010

Cap and trade plan stirs debate across N.M.

Santa Fe New Mexican
Susan Montoya Bryan | The Associated Press
Posted: Sunday, September 26, 2010

"After driving more than 200 miles to Santa Fe, Matt Hinkle of Roswell hobbled down the auditorium walkway to the front of the nearly empty room. He jostled the chairs around to make room for his crutches and then laid out his opposition to a pair of proposals aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions in New Mexico.

"From what I can see," he told a panel of state regulators, "the public in the state of New Mexico doesn't have a clue. ... They are completely uninformed as to what's going on. Really, in the end, they're going to be the ones paying for it."

The New Mexico Environmental Improvement Board is considering two proposals — one from an environmental group and the other from the state Environment Department. The state's plan calls for a regional cap-and-trade program, and New Energy Economy wants to limit the emissions of the state's largest polluters — coal-fired power plants and the oil and gas industry." More>>>>

Silt family protests drilling by Antero

"The Strudley family of Silt Mesa is not happy about the way things are turning out in their neighborhood, whey they say they were told they'd never have to worry about gas drilling.

Smack between their property and the rising Grand Hogback hills to the north is a relatively new gas pad where a well has been drilled, frac'ed [hydraulically fractured] and appears ready for completion, said Beth Strudley.

On the road in front of their home, tanker trucks now regularly rumble up and down a steep incline, rolling either to or from the drilling pad, which is operated by Antero Resources.

The family has installed an expensive new cistern and is planning to begin hauling water for household use rather than trust to their 475-foot deep water well, which they now believe is threatened with contamination from the drilling activities.

And, to give voice to all their frustration and anxiety, they have begun displaying signs in their front yard that give vent to their feelings and let the world know where they stand.

They started creating and erecting the signs “when we saw the bulldozers clearing an area for the drilling,” said Beth Strudley on Sept. 22.

Beth Strudley, who grew up in Aspen and Carbondale, then moved oversees for a decade or so, returned to the area around the year 2000 and has lived on Silt Mesa for about four years.

“The whole thing I'm concerned about is, how they treat people,” she said, referring to gas drilling companies and their conflicts with area residents.

When concerns run deep (more)>>>>

Friday, September 24, 2010

Wyo. fracking rules take effect with few problems

Bloomberg Business Week

"Energy companies seem eager to comply with new state rules requiring them to disclose the chemicals they use in a controversial drilling technique known as fracking, the head of Wyoming's oil and gas regulatory agency said.

The rules apply to hydraulic fracturing, which involves pumping pressurized water, sand and chemicals down well bores to pry open fissures and facilitate the flow of oil or gas out of surrounding deposits.

Some environmentalists say the chemicals used in the process can contaminate aquifers and water wells. The rules require companies to disclose the chemicals that go into the fracking fluids they use.

The idea is that if groundwater contamination ever occurred, fracking chemicals could be identified -- or ruled out -- as the source.

The Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission approved the disclosure rules in June and they went into effect Sept. 15. Oilfield services company Halliburton already appears to have disclosed chemicals used in fracking operations on the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission website.

Commission supervisor Tom Doll said companies don't seem to be looking for ways around the new rules." More>>>>

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Flight for survival
Toxic emissions force family to leave home
By Brandon Evans

"They call her the canary.

For more than a year, a range of random illnesses plagued Lisa Parr.

"I started to get a little sick," she said. "I thought I was getting the flu. I was just tired and achy and started going through some little problems.

"Then I started breaking out in a rash. It literally covered my entire body - my scalp all the way down to the bottoms of my feet," Parr recalled. "I made multiple trips to the emergency room. I had six doctors working on me, and they couldn't figure out what it was."

Today, her arms and legs bear pock-like scars from rashes.

Lisa first felt sick in fall 2008. As the immense trees across her 40-acre homestead droppd pecans, Lisa accumulated a host of unexplained ailments. The typical remedies didn't work.

"I had nine rounds of steroids in six months," she said. "They just blew me up and didn't get rid of the problem."

In May 2008, Lisa married Bob Parr on golden-colored stone steps at his country home in east Wise County in the Allison community. The back porch overlooks a picturesque setting. Horses and cows graze lazily in a green pasture. Denton Creek winds along the back of the property, bringing with it a lush river of trees along either side.

It seems impossible such a scene would provide the backdrop for the poisoning of the Parr family by a laundry list of industrial neurotoxins.

Lisa was treated by eight different doctors over the course of a year. A source of the sickness was never determined. In June 2009, after exhausting everything he knew medically, her internal specialist suggested that something in the environment might be causing her various ailments.

In early fall 2009, she visited an environmental doctor who confirmed the presence of neurotoxins in her blood that matched chemicals used in natural gas production.

Toxic plume" (More>>>>)

Expansion of Cerrillos Hills State Park to be Nixed?

New Mexico

"It seemed that Gov. Richardson’s plan for using federal stimulus dollars to create a wild horse sanctuary was practically a done deal. But now Lt. Governor and gubernatorial candidate Diane Denish has come out against the plan. Since Denish is a member of the state Board of Finance, which has to OK the proposal, her opposition is significant." More>>>>

Related post:

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

SF mulls gas drilling regulations

Familiar story?

By Deana Carpenter For The Almanac

"A standing room only crowd of residents from South Fayette and neighboring communities, including officials from Pittsburgh City Council, voiced their concerns about regulating gas well drilling in the township at the commissioners' Sept. 20 meeting.

Like many communities, South Fayette is trying to regulate the drilling through its zoning ordinances. And after much discussion and debate Sept. 20 about where drilling would occur in the township, commissioners voted 3-2 to readvertise the current pending ordinance, with Commissioners Deron Gabriel and Cindy Cox opposed.

South Fayette has a pending drilling ordinance in place, stating that any drilling must be at least 1,000 feet from a protected structure which includes a school or home.

The pending ordinance would allow conditional use drilling in all zoning districts in the township. The ordinance calls for conditional use, rather than permitted because conditional use would require public notification and allow for public hearings for input from residents." More>>>>

Environment Department to Discuss Galisteo Watershed Water Quality Standards

The New Mexico Environment Department (Surface Water Quality Bureau) will hold a public meeting about water quality standards for streams in the Galisteo Watershed. The meeting will be at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, October 7 at the Hondo Fire Station 2, located south of the intersection of NM Hwy 285 and Old Las Vegas Highway.

As required by the Clean Water Act, the state has developed water quality standards for its surface waters. The standards group surface waters into hydrologically similar segments. Segments are assigned designated uses, including an aquatic life use, and associated criteria to protect the uses.

Galisteo Creek and its perennial tributaries are currently assigned the high quality coldwater aquatic life use. Data collected by the Department on the mainstem Galisteo Creek do not meet the criteria for this use. However, both local residents and the Department have expressed concerns that high quality coldwater may not be an appropriate use.

The Department is investigating what aquatic life uses are appropriate for Galisteo Creek and its tributaries. The purpose of the meeting is to present this investigation and invite public input.

For more information contact Deby Sarabia at or visit the Surface Water Quality Bureau standards website,"

Deborah Sarabia

NM Environment Department

Surface Water Quality Bureau

Standards, Planning and Reporting


Monday, September 20, 2010

Controversial Candidates on 'Short List' for EPA Fracking Panel

The New York Times
By MIKE SORAGHAN of Greenwire

"U.S. EPA is considering two former Halliburton Co. executives along with one of the most outspoken critics of hydraulic fracturing to provide independent expert advice on its study of the polarizing drilling practice.

The EPA Science Advisory Board's "short list (pdf)" of 82 people to serve on a review panel could reignite a debate that dogged a previous fracturing study, in which a Halliburton employee served on a peer review panel that was criticized for being overloaded with people from the petroleum industry.

The new study has run into controversy even before it starts, as the gas industry and its critics jockey to influence the planning and "scope" of the study. Gas drillers have complained that EPA is planning to look too broadly, including at parts of the drilling process that do not directly involve fracturing. Hundreds of people, mostly opponents, have shown up to testify at normally docile "scoping" hearings (Greenwire, Sept. 14).

The results of the final study won't be released until 2012. The new study was sought last year by congressional Democrats who worry that the high-pressure underground injections of chemical-laced water could be contaminating drinking water." More>>>>

Friday, September 17, 2010

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

September 16, 2010
Jodi McGinnis Porter 505.476.3226

State of New Mexico Purchasing the Ortiz Mountain Ranch

"SANTA FE, NM – Governor Richardson today announced that he is using $2.8 million in federal stimulus money to purchase 12,142 acres of land known as the Ortiz Mountain Ranch to expand Cerrillos Hills State Park and create a wild horse sanctuary.

“The Galisteo Basin is one of New Mexico’s crown jewels,” said Governor Bill Richardson. “I am pleased that the Recovery Act has provided the means for a long-term investment in the land that will provide the public with opportunities for recreation, and support our local economy by supporting jobs, and promoting tourism.”

The state has entered into a purchase agreement with the Nature Conservancy and a private owner.

Ensuring the availability of ample, accessible open space and recreation opportunities is a major factor in quality of life considerations, and in promoting healthy lifestyles that can reduce long-term health care costs to society.

The pristine land located three miles south of Madrid on both the east and west side of New Mexico HWY-14 located in the Galisteo Basin is being purchased for less than $224 per acre. It will provide extraordinary outdoor recreational activities and stimulate New Mexico’s active outdoor recreation economy. It is an easy 40 minute drive from either Santa Fe or Albuquerque.

According to the Outdoor Industry Foundation, the active outdoor recreation economy in New Mexico:
o Contributes $3.8 billion annually to New Mexico’s economy
o Supports 47,000 jobs across New Mexico
o Generates $184 million in annual state tax revenue
o Produces $2.75 billion annually in retail sales and services across New Mexico – accounting for 4.6% of the gross state product.

The discretionary award from the Government Services Fund will allow Cerrillos Hills State Park to broaden its visitation appeal by offering diverse recreation opportunities, including hiking, biking, equestrian, birding, specialized tours, activities related to wild horses, and overnight stays through camping and lodging.

“This is a great long-term investment in New Mexico,” stated Jim Noel, Cabinet Secretary for the New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department. “The expansion of this state park will support the local economy, promote tourism and will provide year round hiking opportunities.”

State Parks generate approximately $400 million annually in economic activity in New Mexico and are key elements of the state’s recreation and tourism economy, especially in rural areas. Acquisition of this property for the expansion of Cerrillos Hills State Park represents an investment in the economic infrastructure of the region and state that will have long-term benefits for generations to come." Link>>>>

Relief Well Reaches Stricken BP Well

The New York Times

"Crews drilling a relief well have succeeded in intercepting BP’s stricken oil well in the Gulf of Mexico, BP said on Friday, and the company will now go ahead with plans to place a final cement seal in the once-leaking well.

The company said in a statement that the relief well intercepted the stricken well’s annulus — the space between the well’s metal casing and the surrounding rock — nearly 13,000 feet below the seabed at 4:30 p.m. Central time on Thursday.

BP said that tests showed there was no cement or oil and gas in the annulus at the interception point, so there was no need to pump heavy drilling mud into the annulus through the relief well, a procedure known as a bottom kill. Instead, crews will pump only cement into the annulus, forming a final seal." More>>>>

Chemical Contamination of Dimock Water

September 17, 2010

"There's more than gas in Dimock's drinking water.

An environmental engineer tested the water in the Susquehanna County community, and says almost every sample contained toxic chemicals.

Three laboratories verified the results.

The tests found industrial solvents like toluene and ethylbenzene.

But the engineer says there's no way to know for sure if the chemicals in the water were caused by gas drilling.

Last year, Dimock landowners sued Cabot Oil & Gas for contaminating their drinking water with methane gas and other pollutants.

Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection determined Cabot's drilling wells had defective casings that allowed gas to leak into groundwater.

The DEP fined Cabot and ordered it to clean up the pollution, as well as find a solution to restore clean drinking water to homeowners.

Thursday, Pennsylvania's top environmental regulator said the only real solution would be to connect those homes to the public water supply in Montrose. It would cost $10 million." Link>>>>

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Ridge says Rendell right to cancel terrorism research pact

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Anti-Drilling Activists Worry About Government Watch List

"Anti-natural gas drilling activists gathering at Wednesday's EPA meeting have a new worry - that they could end up on a Homeland Security watch list.

"Two people that spoke today said that they're on that watch list, and all they are are people that are opposed to the gas drilling. IT would concern me to be on that list," said Kim Michels.

Wednesday, people learned that Pennsylvania's Department of Homeland Security had been paying a private company to keep track of peaceful protesters, including those who are against drilling in the Marcellus Shale. The list was also shared with the gas drilling industry.

"With terrorism, we would have to be negatively impacting people - I mean we would have to be creating terror. I'm terrorized by that fact that I might not be able to drink my water," said Ethan Roach." More>>>>

Oil and gas companies forced to plug old wells

Financial Times

BySheila McNulty in Houston

Published: September 15 2010 23:01 | Last updated: September 15 2010 23:01

"The US government is requiring oil and gas companies in the Gulf of Mexico to promptly set permanent plugs in nearly 3,500 non-producing wells.

Under the new rules announced on Wednesday, the companies also must dismantle about 650 oil and gas production platforms if they are no longer being used for exploration or production.

Until now, these companies waited sometimes years after the infrastructure had been out of use to properly seal and dismantle their equipment.

But the Interior Department is mandating that any well that has not been used during the past five years for exploration or production must be plugged and associated equipment must be decommissioned if no longer involved with exploration or production.

They have 120 days to submit a company-wide plan for decommissioning these facilities and wells.

But authorities said the industry had informed companies they would have three years to plug wells on active leases that meet the criteria for being no longer useful for operation and five years to remove platforms meeting the established criteria.

The new rules will force companies to spend millions of dollars on decommissioning far sooner than they might otherwise have done. But companies said they thought the process would go slower than some might fear, given the need for permits and regulatory oversight throughout." More>>>>

Lawsuit: Gas drilling fluid ruined Pa. water wells

, On Wednesday September 15, 2010, 5:46 pm

"ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP) -- Thirteen families in the heart of the gas-rich Marcellus Shale say their water wells have been contaminated by poisonous fluids blasted deep underground by a drilling company using a technique at the center of a fierce nationwide debate.

A faulty gas well drilled by Houston-based Southwestern Energy Co. leaked toxic fracking fluid into local groundwater in northeastern Pennsylvania's Susquehanna County, exposing residents to dangerous chemicals and sickening a child, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday.

The lawsuit -- one of the first in the nation to link hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, to tainted groundwater -- said the well's cement casing was defective. It also cites spills of industrial waste, diesel fuel and other hazardous substances.

"The fracking fluid leaked into the aquifer and contaminated wells within several thousand feet, if not more," said plaintiffs' attorney Peter Cambs of Port Washington, N.Y.

A Southwestern official denied any problems with the well and state environmental officials said they found no link between the well and any contamination." More>>>>

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Fracking debate heats up in New York

By Steve Hargreaves, Senior writer

"NEW YORK ( -- Hundreds of people are expected to pack an upstate New York auditorium Monday as the federal government enters the fray over a controversial technique for natural gas production.

The hearing is the public comment portion of an ongoing Environmental Protection Agency investigation into whether or not hydraulic fracturing, a process that injects thousands of gallons of chemical-laced water and sand into natural gas wells, cracking the shale rock and allowing the gas to flow out, is safe." More>>>>

Friday, September 10, 2010

E.P.A. to Study Chemicals Used to Tap Natural Gas

The New York Times
Published: September 9, 2010

"The Environmental Protection Agency sent letters to nine drilling companies on Thursday requesting detailed information about the chemicals contained in fluids used to crack open underground rock formations in the hunt for oil and natural gas." More>>>>

Death toll rises in gas-line explosion near S.F. airport

By Benjamin Pimentel, MarketWatch

"SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) -- The death toll from the natural-gas-line explosion in a Bay Area suburb reportedly rose to six people Friday morning, with 53 homes destroyed as authorities got a first look in the sunlight at the devastation.

The explosion in a residential section of the city of San Bruno, located south of San Francisco and near San Francisco International Airport, also damaged more than 100 homes, according to media reports." More>>>>

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Board of (Santa Fe) County Commissioners Will Hold a Special Study Session on County Sustainable Land Development Plan (SLDP)

Santa Fe County Email

"A Special BCC study session on the SLDP will be held on Tuesday, September 14, 2010 at 9 a.m. in the County Commission Chambers. The study session will allow the Board an opportunity to review the SLDP, discuss recommendations and address outstanding issues. The Board will also allow public comments through a public hearing during this study session. 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 by clicking the “Revised Sustainable Land Development Plan” link under Hot Topics.

For further information about the SLDP or the upcoming Special BCC study session, you may also contact Planning Manager Robert Griego, (505) 986-6215 or email "

Transocean, Halliburton blast BP report on cause of blowout, oil spill

By Mark Clayton, Staff writer / September 8, 2010

"Former partners with BP in the drilling operation that led to a blowout aboard the Deepwater Horizon drill rig – and a massive oil spill – are striking back at a report they say unfairly paints them as equally responsible for the disaster." More>>>>

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Pa. gov wants gas industry to help shale towns


"WASHINGTON, Pa. - Gov. Ed Rendell met with officials in western Pennsylvania on Tuesday to garner support for a tax on Marcellus Shale drillers, while a Pittsburgh councilman introduced a bill to ban the drilling altogether in the city.

Rendell met with local officials, business leaders and environmental groups in Washington, which has experienced the most Marcellus Shale drilling in the region to date. The governor was greeted by about two dozen protesters holding red, white and blue signs calling for an end to the drilling.

Rendell said the drilling is creating new challenges for communities that are worried about the environmental effects of the process used to extract natural gas and about incurring the costs associated with drilling accidents.

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, involves the injection of millions of gallons of chemical-laden water deep underground to break up the shale and let natural gas escape, leaving much of the water below ground.:" More>>>>

'Bad actors' make rest of industry look bad, energy firms and others say

"As the U.S. oil and gas industry seeks to fend off new federal regulation of hydraulic fracturing -- a technology vital to the nation's shale-gas drilling boom -- a two-word phrase increasingly crops up in the national conversation on the issue.

Bad actors."

Read more:

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Oil sheen seen near Mariner Energy rig

(Imagae: ABC News)
by Russ Britt

"LOS ANGELES (MarketWatch) -- An oil sheen 100 feet wide and 1 mile long has been seen near the Mariner Energy (ME 22.87, -0.48, -2.04%) production platform, where a fire broke out early Thursday, the Coast Guard said. Coast Guard Petty Officer Matthew Masaschi said the sheen was reported by Mariner Energy after the rig was shut down and its 13 workers evacuated. Mariner officials could not be reached for comment." Link>>>>

Related Posts:

Fire shuts Mariner Energy oil platform in Gulf

Rescue efforts underway after oil rig explosion in Gulf

Fire shuts Mariner Energy oil platform in Gulf

"NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- A fire broke out on a oil-production platform owned by Mariner Energy Inc. in the Gulf of Mexico, prompting the evacuation and recovery of the rig's crew, a Coast Guard official said Thursday.

The incident was reported at 9:30 a.m. Central time, Coast Guard Petty Officer Prentice Danner told MarketWatch.

All of the production wells on the platform were shut and that there was no evidence any oil had spilled into the Gulf, a spokesman for Mariner Energy (ME 22.64, -0.71, -3.04%) told cable-news network CNBC.

Also, all 13 crew had been safely removed from the platform, which lies 80 miles south of Vermillion Bay, La., the spokesman said. The fire broke out on the rig's topsides away from the wellheads, he elaborated, adding that the crew had been painting and sandblasting at the time." More>>>>

Greenland Police Arrest Greenpeace Oil Rig Demonstrators

"BAFFIN BAY, Greenland, September 2, 2010 (ENS) - Four Greenpeace activists who climbed a Cairn Energy oil rig in Greenland waters were arrested this morning and are now being held in police custody in Greenland.

The activists first scaled the oil rig Stena Don on Tuesday. They attached hanging platforms to the underside of the rig where they camped out in tents with self-heating meals until last night." More>>>>

Onorato slams Corbett's opposition to drilling tax


By PETER JACKSON, Associated Press Writer

Published: Thursday, September 2, 2010 12:00 PM EDT
"HARRISBURG - Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Dan Onorato charged Wednesday that his Republican rival's opposition to a severance tax on natural gas drilling is evidence that he's more interested in helping the industry than forcing it to pay for environmental problems." More>>>>

EPA warns Pavillion, Wyoming-area residents of contaminated water wells

"PAVILLION -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has recommended that several Pavillion-area residents with private water wells find alternate sources of water for drinking and cooking.

The recommendation applies to at least 20 water wells, and that number could increase, according to the EPA.

EnCana Oil and Gas USA, which operates oil and gas wells interspersed throughout the farm and ranch community, has agreed to provide funding to a third party which will provide treatment or an alternate source of drinking water. However, details are not yet worked out.

The health concern is based on high sodium and sulfates that EPA officials believe are naturally occurring in the groundwater, and on the detection of petroleum compounds that officials believe shouldn't be in the groundwater.

EPA officials have not yet determined the source of the petroleum hydrocarbons, but they plan to make that determination in the agency's ongoing investigation." More>>>>

Rescue efforts underway after oil rig explosion in Gulf


"An oil rig has exploded 80 miles off the coast of Louisiana, with 12 people overboard and one missing, the Coast Guard said Thursday morning.

Rescue attempts are underway for at least 12 people, Coast Guard spokesman John Edwards told CNN. 13 people were on board the rig total, Edwards said, noting 12 have been accounted for, but one person was missing.

The accident took place 80 miles off the coast of Louisiana on the Vermilion Oil rig 380, which is owned by Houston-based Mariner Energy.

The Coast Guard has multiple helicopters, an airplane and several Coast Guard cutters en route. It's unknown if there are any injuries.

WWL: Coast Guard reporting rig incident

WDSU: 1 missing after rig explosion in Gulf"

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Officials say they learned lessons

Oil, gas panel meets for 1st time

By David Giuliani

Las Vegas Optic

"San Miguel County officials say they have learned some lessons from the task force that produced a proposed ordinance regulating wind farms.

They spoke during the first meeting of the oil and gas task force, which is expected to draft an ordinance for energy production in the county.

County Manager Les Montoya said he hopes the new task force will focus on its members.

“We got a little out of hand with the wind task force,” Montoya said. “We wanted to be open in that process. Maybe we were too open. We had a lot of different perspectives. We want to keep it focused on the people who are here.”

Alex Tafoya, the county planning and zoning supervisor, said in certain cases, members of the wind task force agreed on an issue and then some would come to him later and say that they actually disagreed.

“I would like to get this done rather than dragging it out over an extended period of time,” he said.

The wind farm task force started in early 2009, but after a few months, the county changed its membership to include more people to represent industry interests. The group produced a number of versions of the ordinance.

Recently, the County Commission delayed a decision on the proposed wind ordinance. The big issue in that instance was how far wind turbines should be from homes.

Last week, all but one member of the oil and gas task force showed up. The members included divergent interests — from Karin Foster, executive director of the Independent Petroleum Association of New Mexico, to Pat Leahan, co-director of the Las Vegas Peace and Justice Center." More>>>>