Monday, January 31, 2011

Fracking companies injected 32M gallons of diesel, House probe finds

E&E News PM

Mike Soraghan, E&E reporter

"Drilling service companies have injected at least 32 million gallons of diesel fuel underground as part of a controversial drilling technique, a Democratic congressional investigation has found.

Injecting diesel as part of "hydraulic fracturing" is supposed to be regulated by U.S. EPA. But an agency official told congressional investigators that EPA had assumed that the use of diesel had stopped seven years ago.

"The industry has been saying they stopped injecting toxic diesel fuel into wells," said Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), the ranking member on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, who led the inquiry. "But our investigation showed this practice has been continuing in secret and in apparent violation of the [Safe Drinking Water Act]."

Waxman calculated the amount of diesel based on voluntary disclosures from "service companies" like Halliburton Co. and Schlumberger, which do the "frack jobs" for well operators. On Monday, Waxman and fellow committee members Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.) shared their findings in an open letter to EPA officials." More>>>>

KUNM: Republicans storm out of House Energy committee


Marjorie Childress

"During a question and answer session in the House Energy and Natural Resources committee today, the entire Republican half of the committee walked out. The committee chair, Rep. Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, called it an act of gamesmanship.

Egolf arranged two presentations on the impact of rules as well as incentives on the production of oil and gas in New Mexico. Two powerpoint presentations were given, which took about an hour, then a question and answer session ensued.

Rep. Don Bratton, R-Hobbs, identified himself at the beginning of the hearing as having thirty years in the oil and gas industry. As one of the presenters began to answer a question by Rep. Al Park, D-Albuquerque, Bratton interrupted, asking what background in petroleum engineering the two presenters had."...

..."The HERN committee is evenly split among Republicans and Democrats, in a year in which many expect there to be a strong push by the oil and gas industry to lessen environmental rules and regulations on oil and gas drilling. Legislation to that effect would most likely be assigned to HERN. Four of the six [67%] Republicans on the committee identified themselves as part of the oil and gas industry, either currently, in the past, or through a spouse." More>>>>

Senate GHG bill would strike down federal, some state regs

Jean Chemnick, E&E reporter

"Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) will introduce a bill later today that would prohibit federal agencies from regulating greenhouse gas emissions and also limit states' ability to implement carbon dioxide laws.

The measure would prevent the federal government from regulating greenhouse gas emissions for their effects on climate change, according to a source familiar with the bill." More>>>>

Professor: NM loopholes for drillers not paying off

(KSFR) -

"A UNM professor says New Mexico's tax breaks and other loopholes for oil and gas are not producing the revenues that lawmakers thought they would. Prof. Kim Sovig has told the House energy committee that royalties from oil and gas revenues have declined over the past six years while at the same time the amounts that drillers can deduct from their obligations to the state have more than doubled. The testimony comes as Rep. Brian Egolf of Santa Fe holds a hearing to find out if state incentives are producing revenues and if the state's environmental rules are driving the drilling business to other states." KSFR>>>>

Powell: No more land deals in 'dead of night'

Land commissioner raises bar for office, vows transparency

Susan Montoya Bryan | The Associated Press
Posted: Sunday, January 30, 2011

"What matters to New Mexico Land Commissioner Ray Powell is sunshine.

He's quick to trade in his undecorated office for a few moments outside under the Northern New Mexico sun.

But Powell's obsession with sunshine goes beyond being warmed up by the golden rays on this winter day. He's more interested in the kind of sunshine that will bring openness and transparency to what goes on at the State Land Office. He wants to restore confidence in the agency, protect state trust lands and continue to rake in hundreds of millions of dollars each year for public schools and other beneficiaries.

"Our objective is to put as much sunshine as we possibly can on these projects and let them live or die by their merits," he told The Associated Press during an interview. "The way we inoculate ourselves from future problems is just to have sunshine on everything that we do."

The Land Office during the previous administration was embroiled in legal battles over the exchange of trust land for private land around White Peak in northeastern New Mexico, and other questions were raised about appraisals, commercial land leases and the lack of analysis on some projects.

Former Land Commissioner Patrick Lyons has defended his administration, but just this week the New Mexico Supreme Court rejected two of the White Peak land swaps that were orchestrated by Lyons. " More>>>>

Exxon Mobil’s profit climbs 53%

By Steve Gelsi, MarketWatch

"NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — Exxon Mobil Corp. said Monday that its fourth-quarter profit rose 53% to top $9 billion, marking the oil major’s richest results since the third quarter of 2008 as it benefited from higher crude-oil prices." More>>>>

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Tougher regulations to affect Barnett Shale natural gas drillers

"The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality moved this week to impose tougher regulations on natural gas drillers but opted to try them out only in the Barnett Shale area in North Texas before applying them statewide.

The state agency voted Wednesday to beef up its air emission limits on toxic chemicals associated with natural gas drilling and required producers to test their drilling sites more stringently.

It's the first major change to the agency's drilling regulations in over a decade and "light-years ahead" of the current rules, said Richard Hyde, the deputy director of permitting and registration.

Industry interests pushed for the trial period to see whether changes will be needed before the rest of the state falls under the rules.

"Those are tremendous changes and huge steps forward for both TCEQ and the industry," Celina Romero of the Texas Pipeline Association told commissioners." More>>>>

Bill would shake up energy, natural-resource boards

Staci Matlock | The New Mexican
Posted: Friday, January 28, 2011

"A bill sponsored by Rep. Paul Bandy, R-Aztec, would ax the State Game Commission and merge the Department of Game and Fish with the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department.

House Bill 80 also would "sunset all boards and commissions addressing energy and natural resources issues."'...

..."Among other changes, the bill would:

  • Terminate the Oil Conservation Commission, the governor-appointed board that approved a controversial oil-waste pit-rule that Gov. Susana Martinez has targeted as "bad for business."
  • Terminate the Youth Conservation Corps Commission by 2017.
  • Remove per diem for the 11-member state parks advisory board and terminate it in 2017.
  • Remove per diem for the seven-member off-highway vehicle advisory board and terminate it in 2013.
  • Terminate the Mining Safety Board in 2017.
  • Leave in place a seven-member mining commission but change requirements for who is appointed by the governor. It would require no member to have a direct or indirect financial connection to any coal mining operation." More>>>>

Friday, January 28, 2011

Moonstruck: Climate science denier Harrison Schmitt, appointed to head NM[EMNRD], believes enviros and scientists like Holdren are communists

Climate Progress
January 27, 2011

“New Mexico’s Supreme Court ordered the state records administrator yesterday to publish a rule establishing a statewide cap on emissions,” as E&E News (subs. req’d) reported today. That should be good news in a state that faces a grim future — brutal heat waves, massive wildfires, permanent Dust Bowls — in a world of unrestricted greenhouse gas emissions (see “U.S. southwest could see a 60-year drought like that of 12th century — only hotter — this century” and below). Indeed, the state’s own Sandia National Laboratory analyzed projected rainfall patterns from climate change and found “over the next 40 years, New Mexico’s economic contribution to the U.S. economy could drop by $26 billion.”

But newly elected NM Gov. Susana Martinez (R) is dead set against the emissions cap. Worse, as noted earlier this month, she picked climate denier Harrison Schmitt to run “the state’s Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department, which oversees all environmental matters” in the state. Schmitt believes mainstream climate science is a conspiracy “to increase government control.”

Now it turns out former astronaut Schmitt is even more of a climate crackpot than first thought. As ThinkProgress reports (with a jaw-dropping audio):

Schmitt, a retired astronaut and former U.S. Senator, has said he believes the leaders of the environmental movement are communists, and that when these communist environmentalists are appointed to government positions, citizens need to “wake up” and “take control of their government again.” The New Mexico Independent has flagged this interview Schmitt gave to crank radio host Alex Jones in 2009:

SCHMITT: Number one we’ve been concerned with the misuse of science, but I think more fundamentally, this misuse of science has lead to politicians and ideologues to try to gain control of the American economy, and indeed the global economy, by scaring people…. I think that there are individuals, [Obama science czar John] Holdren apparently among them, a very large number who have taken — shall we say captured the environmental movement and turned it into what was previously considered the communist movement. And that’s just something that people of common sense are going to continue to have to counter and wake up enough so that they can take control of their government again. [...]" More>>>>

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

NM Supreme Court Orders Records Administrator to Print Rules

New Mexico Environmental Law Center

"SANTA FE, N.M.— The New Mexico Supreme Court sided with environmental groups today when it granted a writ of mandamus to the New Mexico State Records Administrator, compelling her to print the adopted and final greenhouse gas cap and dairy discharge rules. The printing of the rules was halted earlier in the month by Governor Martinez’ Executive Order which suggested the rules were “pending” and therefore subject to a ninety day hold for review.

“This is a tremendous and deserved victory for the administration of justice in New Mexico,” stated Bruce Frederick, staff attorney of the New Mexico Environmental Law Center (NMELC), the nonprofit law firm that brought two suits against the Governor for its clients, New Energy Economy and Amigos Bravos. “The ruling ensures that our regulations will continue to be developed in a public and open process, and be protected from revision through secret, backroom deals.”'
Read entire article >

Posted by Juana Colon on 01/26/2011 • Permalink


"State high court hears arguments over Martinez vs. enviro rules
(KSFR) -

Gov. Martinez is getting her her first court challenge today, and KSFR's Marion Cox reports that the courtroom is filled to overcapacity. The state Supreme Court is hearing a lawsuit seeking to reverse the governor's order to put aside recently enacted environmental rules. The New Mexico Environmental Law Center filed the suit, asking the high court to order Martinez to reinstate two environmental rules Martinez put on hold minutes after she took office. One rule would put a three-percent-a-year cap on greenhouse gas emissions from large industrial polluters. The other would institute cap-and-trade requirements on industry as a way of controlling emissions.

Listen to Marion Cox's first report. She says the justices asked a few questions of the environmental lawyers but questioning of Martinez' lawyers has been "withering."

Hearing still underway at 10 a.m." Link to newscast>>>>

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Court Tosses Land Trade

January 25, 2011

Copyright © 2011 Albuquerque Journal
By 2011 Phil Parker And Karen Peterson
Journal Staff Writers

"A divided New Mexico Supreme Court on Monday ruled against the White Peak land swaps negotiated by former State Land Commissioner Pat Lyons and appeared to bar any future trades of private tracts for state trust land.

The high court said it wasn't ruling on whether the four-part exchange of land parcels in the White Peak area north of Ocate was a good deal or a bad one.

The opinion by Justice Richard C. Bosson says the "Land commissioner makes a cogent argument supporting his conclusion that certain private land exchanges would improve the management and value of state trust lands."

But it says that under New Mexico's 100-year-old Enabling Act, the state land commissioner can only dispose of trust land "by a true public auction."

"Without the benefit of an auction's objective means of sale ... there is no protection against favoritism," the opinion says.

Bosson, joined by Justices Petra Jimenez Maes and Patricio M. Serna stressed that the court wasn't undoing any past Land Office exchanges.

Justices Edward Chavez and Charles Daniels dissented. Chavez noted that the land commissioner's "undivided loyalty is to the designated beneficiaries and not the state as a whole."

By quibbling over the specifics of the auction process instead of questioning the commissioner's overall authority to exchange land, Chavez wrote, "the attorney general seeks to protect the best interests of the bidders (in the White Peak case), not the best interests of the trust beneficiaries." It was Attorney General Gary King who challenged the trades before the Supreme Court.

In the White Peak deal, Lyons maintained the trades he negotiated with ranchers would help clear up complicated boundaries between state and private land and prevent trespassing, poaching and vandalism. Opponents said Lyons was giving up some of the state's best public elk hunting territory.

The Supreme Court majority noted that the Enabling Act says state trust lands "shall not be sold or leased, in whole or in part, except to the highest and best bidder at a public auction."

Because the White Peak deals had to be worked out ahead of time, the opinion says, the exchanges were made using negotiating and bargaining "rather than seeking the highest financial gain through objective means."' More>>>>

Industry wary of S.F. rep from oil family

Steve Terrell | The New Mexican
Posted: Monday, January 24, 2011 - 1

"State Rep. Brian Egolf's great-grandfather was the founder of the American Petroleum Association of America. Egolf's father, until a few years ago, was an oilman, who drilled in Oklahoma and Texas.

But oil-industry representatives aren't exactly reacting with joy at the news that a "member of the family" is heading to the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

In fact, because of the younger Egolf's public positions on environment and conservation issues, some in the energy industry worry that Gov. Susana Martinez's agenda of rolling back environmental regulations just got harder.

Speaking at a meeting of Leadership Santa Fe, a program sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce, Egolf said Monday that because of an even split on his committee among Democrats and Republicans, few bills that are controversial will gain passage." More>>>>

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Political shift puts environmental activists on the defense

Staci Matlock | The New Mexican
Posted: Saturday, January 22, 2011

"Environmentalists say they're fighting to hold on to gains made in recent years, while oil, gas and utility representatives, with support from newly elected Gov. Susana Martinez, are trying to roll back regulations they say hurt New Mexico businesses. "...


...."Finding a little common ground

Industry and environmental advocates agree on one thing: They want an independent office for all hearing examiners in regulatory cases.

Currently, each state agency has its own in-house hearing examiners or contracts for them.

"I think if a bill like that was introduced to establish an independent office of hearing examiners, our inclination will be to support it," said Douglas Meiklejohn, head of the New Mexico Environmental Law Center, which is taking Martinez to court over her decision to stop publication of the greenhouse-gas emission rules." More>>>>

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Governor targets film production tax credit, but 'giveaways' abound for oil and gas industry

Trip Jennings | The New Mexican
Posted: Friday, January 21, 2011 -

"One New Mexico industry received more than $130 million in tax breaks last year.

Supporters say the breaks are necessary to do business.

Critics call them "giveaways."

The state's oil-and-gas industry benefited from a host of tax exemptions, deductions, credits and rate differentials strewn through the tax code. And that has film-industry advocates wondering why Gov. Susana Martinez has singled them out."...

..."Rep. Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, and new chairman of the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee, thinks it's about time to look through some of the breaks the oil and gas industry gets for possible revenue.

"I will have a bill introduced next week where I am going to look at the some of the tax giveaways that go to oil, gas and coal," Egolf said."...

..."Whose ox is getting gored? ...

...the oil and gas industry contributed $807,000 of the $6.9 million in campaign contributions Martinez collected when she ran for governor last year, institute data show. Among industries, oil and gas was her biggest contributor.

Martinez's office said Friday the contributions have no bearing on her decision to not target tax exemptions, deductions and credits for industries beyond film production. " More>>>>

Friday, January 21, 2011

Sierra Club sues NM governor over building codes

Another suit against Governor Martinez?

By The Associated Press

"ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The Sierra Club has sued New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez after she prevented the publication of building codes intended to promote energy-saving standards.

Shortly after the Republican governor took office Jan. 1, she issued an executive order suspending all pending and proposed regulations for 90 days while a task force reviews the measures.

The Sierra Club contends the new building codes will help residents and businesses reduce energy consumption by about 20 percent, and that everyone in the state will benefit from a reduced demand for energy that will cut power plant emissions and conserve resources." More>>>>

A related post:

NMELC Update: NM Supreme Court Arguments

Egolf tapped for energy panel in House committee shake-up

Steve Terrell | The New Mexican

"As part of the ripple effects of an unsuccessful effort to topple House Speaker Ben Luján, the Nambé legislator on Thursday appointed Santa Fe Rep. Brian Egolf, an avowed environmentalist and member of the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, as chairman of the House Energy and Natural Resources.

The move could mean trouble for legislative efforts to reverse environmental rules for the oil-and-gas industry.

However, Egolf, talking to reporters, said, "The most important thing here is to be fair and even-handed and let both sides have their say and see where the members put their votes. The chairman only has one vote on the committee. That's important to remember."

The committee is split evenly among Democrats and Republicans.

"I have never taken an anti-oil and anti-gas position," Egolf said. "I have taken what I thought were pretty common-sense positions that some — and I do mean some — people in the oil-and-gas industry have not liked. ... The responsible operators have no problems." ' More>>>>

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

NMELC Update: NM Supreme Court Arguments

From the New Mexico Environmental Law Center:

On January 11th, representing its client New Energy Economy, the New Mexico Environmental Law Center (NMELC) filed a petition with the New Mexico Supreme Court for a writ of mandamus to compel the Governor and other state offices to comply with existing law, and publish the greenhouse gas regulation in the State Register.

On January 13th, representing its client Amigos Bravos, NMELC filed a second petition with the New Mexico Supreme Court
for a writ of mandamus to require the printing of the adopted dairy discharge rules.

Arguments Over Halt of Printing Carbon Cap and Dairy Discharge Rules Will be Heard Together
The New Mexico Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on both petitions on Wednesday, January 26, 2011, at 9:00 a.m. in the Supreme Court courtroom in Santa Fe.

Representing its clients, the NMELC will argue before the Court that the move to halt the printing of the adopted greenhouse gas cap rule and dairy discharge rule was illegal because the rules were properly adopted and the administration had no authority to block their publication.

The hearing is open to the public. If you go, please arrive early as the court room is very small.

Your support makes it possible for us to represent the public interest in these critical battles.

Donate today, and your gift will help us protect our state's environment and public health. Thank you!

New Mexico Environmental Law Center

Friday, January 14, 2011

New Mexico Polluter's Bill of Rights


(KSFR) -

A Republican state senator has filed legislation seeking to review and possibly discard environmental rules and regulations. KSFR is reporting this first and has first reaction from State Sen. Peter Wirth of Santa Fe and from Sandy Buffett, executive director, New Mexico Conservation Voters. She calls it a "polluter's bill of rights."

The bill (SB 91) by State Sen. Clint Harden would call for all environmental rules to be the subject of public hearings on whether they harm business. If a hearing cannot be held within six months, the legislation would require that the rule be taken off the books entirely.

The issue comes up as the governor's administration looks to overturn carbon emissions caps on big industrial polluters.

© Copyright 2011, KSFR"

Agency Revokes Permit for Major Coal Mining Project

The New York Times
Published: January 13, 2011

"Ms. Keating said the decision was a milestone in the debate over mountaintop-removal coal mining. “Spruce No. 1 is the only individual permit to have undergone a full environmental impact statement,” she said. “The science completely validates what we have been saying for more than a decade: These types of mining operations are destroying our streams and forests and nearby residents’ health, and even driving entire communities to extinction.” More>>>>

Legal Action #2, NM Govenor Martinez

New Mexico Governor Martinez was inaugurated on New Years Day 2011. By the 13th of January 2011, the newly elected Governor has been a Respondent to two court petitions. To read about the first, see the following posts:

Lawsuit targets NM gov's actions on new rules follow-up

Lawsuit targets NM gov's actions on new rules

As for the second:
The New Mexican
Thursday, January 13, 2011

"The [New Mexico] Environmental Law Center on Thursday also filed a second petition that asks the New Mexico Supreme Court to order Martinez to allow the publication of new dairy regulations approved by the state Water Quality Control Commission. The law center is representing the Citizens Coalition in the case.

Dairy owners have said the new regulations, which seek to reduce surface water contamination from dairy operations, would be cumbersome and expensive." More>>>>

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Lawsuit targets NM gov's actions on new rules follow-up

As a follow up to the post, Lawsuit targets NM gov's actions on new rules, in regards to the New Energy Economy petition and the subsequent New Mexico Supreme Court Writ of Mandamus:

HON. SUSANA MARTINEZ, Governor of the State
of New Mexico, F. DAVID MARTIN, Secretary of the
New Mexico Environment Department, and SANDRA
JARAMILLO, New Mexico State Records Administrator,:

From the New Mexico Environmental Law Center website:

"NM Supreme Court will Hear NEE Petition

The New Mexico Supreme Court will hear New Energy Economy’s petition for Writ of Manadamus [sic] on Wednesday, January 26, 2011, at the hour of 9:00 am.

Get PDF of NM Supreme Court Order.

Posted by Juana Colon on 01/13/2011 • Permalink"

"Houston, we have a problem"

There has been a lot of discussion about the newly elected Governor's choice for the Secretary of New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department, Harrison Schmitt former astronaut and U.S Senator, due to his extreme views. Below is an opinion piece from the Albuquerque Journal.

Harrison Schmitt: in His Words
By Thomas J. Cole
Journal Staff Writer

"Words matter. If they didn't, I wouldn't be writing this and you wouldn't be reading it.

So, today, let's visit the words of former astronaut and U.S. Sen. Harrison "Jack" Schmitt, who is Gov. Susana Martinez's pick to head the state Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department.

For more than a year, Schmitt has been posting his views on national and international issues on www.

I suspect most of you will agree with some of what he has to say and disagree with other things. The man does have credentials: a doctorate in geology from Harvard and a bachelor's in science from Caltech. He walked on the moon.

As for me, I think Schmitt spent a little too much time in weightlessness. Then again, I may be a member of what he calls the "state-committed media," working with President Barack Obama "to control personal behavior and private sector decision-making."

In reviewing his comments, you might want to keep in mind that — if confirmed as secretary of the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department — Schmitt will oversee state regulation of the production of most natural resources, including oil and natural gas.

He also will be in charge of programs related to the development of alternative energies, such as solar and wind, and supervise management of New Mexico's treasure of state parks.

Here are excerpts from Schmitt's website postings:

• On public lands: Conservation requires a balancing "of the liberties of individual citizens, the economic wellbeing of local communities and States, requirements for the 'common defence,' and the advance of conservation technologies. ...

"The Government violates constitutional equal protection most generally by restricting the land-related economic and recreational activities of residents of Western States when no comparable restrictions are possible in most Eastern States.

"(Federal) Wilderness and Monument designation for various western lands, establishment of private land buffer zones for endangered species, and regulatory and federal lawsuit roadblocks in the name of conservation also trample equal protection, as well as 5th Amendment's guarantee of due process in many cases."

• On energy: Congress should remove the "regulatory bottlenecks on nuclear power plant and refinery construction and on exploration and production from beneath public land and offshore waters. ...

"A major national security requirement for Congress is enactment of an accelerated program to encourage energy exploration and production from public lands or offshore water where economically and technically feasible. ...

"Our dependence on unstable foreign sources of oil has become one of our greatest national security vulnerabilities that only domestic production can solve in the next 50 years."

Schmitt also says loan guarantees to promote development of alternative energy sources are unconstitutional.

• On climate change: "Policy makers at the head of the government in the United States and in many States want to believe, and to have others believe, that human use of fossil fuels accelerates global warming.

"They pursue this quest in order to impose ever greater and clearly unconstitutional control on the economy and personal liberty in the name of a hypothetically omnipotent government.

"There exists no true concern ... about the true effects of climate change — only a poorly concealed, ideologically driven attempt to use conjured up threats of catastrophic consequences as a lever to gain authoritarian control of society."

• On work: The constitutional "protection of the right to work has been usurped by government requirements for minimum wages, union shops, payment of a prevailing wage, prohibition of even managed use of public lands and resources, moratoria on energy production, and many other unnecessary and politically motivated restrictions on earning a living."

• On the judiciary: Congress should interpret the Constitution and threaten to impeach any federal judge that disagrees.

• On health care: "One of the Obamacare legislation's most insidious Trojan Horses is the creation of a 'National Health Service Force,' including Ready Reserves, under the control of the President. President Obama has referred publicly to this Force as a 'national civilian security force' that is 'just as powerful, just as strong, just as well funded' as the U.S. military. ...

"The president's new 'force' conjures memories of nightmares that previously occurred in totalitarian States."

• On Social Security: "The requirement that Americans have Social Security Numbers to obtain certain government benefits and the broad use of that number as a means of commercial and personal identification violate the implicit right to privacy under the 9th Amendment" of the Constitution." (Schmitt favors allowing workers to opt out of Social Security for Retirement Security Accounts).

• On China: It "constitutes both a military and an economic threat to our freedom and the freedom of all democracies. Congress must begin to fight Cold War II."

• On Venezuela: "The Senate Conservative Leadership must move rapidly ... to provide clear messages to unfriendly nations, like Venezuela, that we will take concrete efforts to bring such nations back into the democratic fold."

• On illegal drugs: "People of good will should join in considering all options available to fight the unintended crime consequences of drug prohibition. Did the failure of alcohol prohibition in the 1920s, and the unintended consequence of stimulating organizing crime, teach us nothing?"

• On Obama: He "has shown repeatedly that the best interests of the American people are a lower priority than his ideological goals to change America from what it has been, to some mystical, socialist utopia with an energy-based standard of living equivalent to that of the late 1800s. ... Further, most of his senior formal and informal advisers have ties to anti-American radicalism."

• On the news media: "The state-committed media supports proposals to silence or regulate alternative media sources and broadband communications as well as generally limit the 1st Amendment's freedom of political speech." Also, the media and Congress are working to "demonize and unconstitutionally discriminate against ... education and personal achievement, marriage, and other Judeo-Christian values."

There is more on Schmitt's website about Israel, health care, education and the economy.

In one posting, he says a "philosophical wedge" has been driven between the government and its citizens, creating a divide that is wider than at any other time since just before the Civil War.

It seems to me that Schmitt has been doing some of the hammering on that wedge.

UpFront is a daily front-page news and opinion column. Thom Cole can be reached in Santa Fe at (505) 992-6280 or at "

Lawsuit targets NM gov's actions on new rules

by Susan Montoya Bryan, Associated Press
January 12, 2011

"ALBUQUERQUE — Gov. Susana Martinez's administration defended itself Wednesday against allegations that it circumvented the law when it put the brakes on the publication of numerous pending and proposed rules in the state register, including new regulations aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions across New Mexico.

The New Mexico Environmental Law Center claims in a lawsuit filed Tuesday with the state Supreme Court that the administration disregarded the law when it moved to halt the codification and printing of the greenhouse gas regulations, which were approved in December by state regulators and filed with the state records administrator. Without publication, the rules cannot become effective.

The law center petitioned the court on behalf of New Energy Economy, a nonprofit group that pushed for the greenhouse gas emissions cap. The center is asking the court to force Martinez and F. David Martin, whom she nominated to head the state Environment Department, to follow the law and have the regulations published.

Bruce Frederick, a staff attorney with the New Mexico Environmental Law Center, argues in the lawsuit that the emissions rules were adopted by the state Environmental Improvement Board and should not be considered as pending because they haven't been published in the register.

The lawsuit accuses Martinez, Martin and State Records Administrator Sandra Jaramillo of "several unconstitutional and otherwise unlawful actions."

"We are trying to uphold the rule of law and to ensure that the new governor and her staff follow it," Frederick said in a statement." More>>>>

Does this have the beginnings of the Governor Martinez legacy?

Monday, January 10, 2011

BP shares fall on Alaska pipeline shutdown

by Aude Lagorce, MarketWatch

"LONDON (MarketWatch) — Shares of BP PLC fell more than 2% on Monday following the shutdown of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System after a leak was discovered at a pumping station. " More>>>>

Mora County group's water study provides first line of defense against 'fracking'

Staci Matlock | The New Mexican

"A group of residents opposed to drilling for natural gas in Mora County has completed a baseline water quality study of area domestic wells.

The data collected will allow them to track contamination from fluids used in natural gas drilling and production.

Kathleen Dudley, one of the founders of Drilling Mora County, said she thought Mora was the first county to complete baseline well testing. "We now have a defensible set of documents so that, if the industry was ever allowed to drill in the Las Vegas basin in Mora County, they would have to defend against their chemicals showing up in our water, because our water is testing clean from all hydraulic fracturing fluids."

The protocol for establishing baseline water quality in wells is now available from Drilling Mora County to any well owner or community water system in New Mexico.

The battery of tests used to analyze the water samples can be obtained from Hall Environmental Analysis Laboratory in Albuquerque. Called DMC-100, the analysis tests for methane gas, metals such as arsenic and organic chemicals associated with a natural-gas drilling process known as hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking." Andy Freeman, lab manager of Hall Environmental, said the cost of running the analysis ranges from $500 to $800 a sample.

A reason to sample More>>>>

Saturday, January 8, 2011

With Feds Failing, Climate Change Action Goes Local

Friday, January 7, 2011

Laura Paskus wrote the below piece for a national syndication service.

She said in an email, "Unfortunately between my deadline and press time, NM's new governor nominated a climate change skeptic to the head of the state Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department. She has also terminated all but one member of the state's Environmental Improvement Board--which passed the greenhouse gas emissions reductions rule mentioned in the commentary."


"In December, the nations of the world agreed once again to do nothing about climate change.

And just as the science of climate change is more clear than ever, so too, are the politics: Whether led by President George W. Bush or Barack Obama, the United States is thwarting meaningful action on climate change. As people around the world lose faith in the U.S. government, it’s long past time for individual Americans to think rationally—about both science and economics. It’s time to act with compassion toward those whose lives are already being affected by climate change."...

..."Most of the people I met in Cancún [during the United Nations climate talks in Cancún, Mexico] have already accepted that the U.S. government will never lead on climate change. But they still wonder why the American people fall for the histrionics of industry-funded climate change deniers when the science of climate change is clear. They are waiting for Americans to pay attention to the rising seas, the Amazon’s burning forests and the glaciers melting from mountains across the globe. They are waiting for citizens to demand that the United States become a responsible member of the international community.

But they’re not going to wait for long. That became painfully clear to me as I headed toward the airport with my fellow South African passenger.

“Everyone used to want to be like America,” she said. “I think that is not the case anymore.”' More>>>>

"Laura Paskus reported from COP 16 in Cancún as an Earth Journalism Network 2010 Climate Media Fellow. EJN is a project of Internews, an international media development organization. This is the project’s first year bringing U.S. journalists to the UN climate talks.Comment on this column at"

Related posts:

2 Environment Rules Halted in New Mexico

Ex-astronaut Schmitt gets energy post

Martinez halts environmental rules

NM governor removes environmental board members

2 Environment Rules Halted in New Mexico

The New York Times
by Felicity Barringer
January 6, 2010

"Acting on a campaign promise, New Mexico’s new Republican governor, Susana Martinez, has scuttled a state regulation requiring annual 3 percent cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.

A second environmental rule intended to control the discharge of waste from dairies in southern New Mexico was also dropped before publication. A different state rule that caps greenhouse gas emissions from stationary sources like power plants remains in effect for the time being."...

..."Governor Martinez, who received hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from oil and gas interests, has also said that she does not believe that science has clearly established a link between climate change and human activity.

As if to emphasize that point, on Thursday she appointed the geologist and former astronaut Harrison Schmitt, another skeptic, as secretary of the state’s Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department.

The measure on cutting emissions by 3 percent was struck on Tuesday, when the governor’s office instructed a senior official at the state’s records center not to publish it in the next state register, to be issued on Jan. 14.

Because state regulations become final on publication, that rule, which was adopted in December by the state’s Environmental Improvement Board, now appears to have no force. Bruce Frederick, a lawyer for the New Mexico Environmental Law Center, called Governor Martinez’s action “underhanded” and “illegal,” adding: “It’s beyond the power of the governor. What she’s trying to do is change the result in a case after the judgment has been rendered.”' More>>>>

More Martinez Appointments

State of New Mexico

Office of the Governor

Susana Martinez


Contact: Scott Darnell

(505) 321-3943

For Immediate Release

January 7, 2011


Hale and Martin Nominated to Head Key Departments

SANTA TERESA – Governor Susana Martinez announced today that she has made two nominations to her cabinet – Col. Timothy Hale as Secretary of Veterans Affairs and F. David Martin as Secretary of the Environment.

After making the announcement, Governor Martinez stated, “I am pleased to announce that New Mexico will have two highly qualified public servants to head key cabinet posts. As a decorated Air Force veteran and an experienced engineer, Col. Hale and Mr. Martin have the expertise it takes to help move our state forward to a more prosperous and successful future.”

A decorated veteran, Col. Hale retired from the Air Force in August 2008. Among his many posts, he commanded the 486th Expeditionary Operations Group during Operation Iraqi Freedom. He was also stationed overseas in Japan and Kuwait. Col. Hale currently heads Higher Calling Aviation, Inc., a corporation tasked with providing all levels of Federal Aviation Association-approved flight training in Central New Mexico. He holds a B.S. from St. Louis University in St. Louis, MO, an M.A. from Webster University in St. Louis, MO, and an M.S. from the National Defense University in Washington, D.C.

In response to his nomination, Col. Hale said, “I am honored that Governor Martinez has tasked me with making sure that New Mexico fulfills its commitment to the men and women who wore the military uniform. Our veterans put their lives on the line for their country and we owe it to them to provide the care and services they deserve.”

Martin has extensive experience as an engineer and currently serves as an Adjunct Associate Professor at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology. In 1990, Martin was appointed by Governor Carruthers to coordinate policy between the state of New Mexico and the United States Department of Energy. He holds engineering degrees from both New Mexico Tech and Texas Tech.

Upon his nomination, Martin stated, “Without question, our state’s natural beauty must be kept intact for future generations. I look forward to working with Governor Martinez to implement common-sense policies that keep New Mexico beautiful and protect our environment while allowing for responsible development of our vast natural resources.”


Friday, January 7, 2011

Farmington council outlines legislative priorities

By Steve Lynn The Daily Times

"Councilman Jason Sandel asked that the lobbyist keep the city apprised on efforts by the Legislature to promote natural gas development.

Sandel also would support legislation barring counties and communities that prohibit oil and gas drilling from receiving tax revenue generated by the industry for projects, he said." Excerpt from article>>>>

Ex-astronaut Schmitt gets energy post


"SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - Former astronaut Harrison "Jack" Schmitt, who walked on the moon and served in the U.S. Senate, was nominated Thursday by Gov. Susana Martinez to run a state agency that oversees energy production in New Mexico."...

..."Martinez said one of Schmitt's first assignments is to review the energy agency's regulations, including rules adopted by former Gov. Bill Richardson's administration in 2008 that restrict the use of pits for onsite waste disposal at drilling sites. The oil industry has objected to the regulations, saying they partly to blame for a slowdown in drilling in New Mexico."...

..."Schmitt said New Mexico has been "ill served" by regulations during the Richardson administration, contending that jobs in the energy industry have moved to other states.

"Nature endowed New Mexico with an extraordinary abundance of natural resources ... and we do have an obligation, not only to the state but to its citizens, to make sure that those resources are properly employed not only for the creation of jobs but for the preservation of the legacy that they provide us for the future," Schmitt said. He will receive a salary of $105,000, down $3,000 from what the department secretary made during the Richardson administration.

The agency also manages state parks and administers forestry, mining reclamation and renewable energy programs.

Schmitt, who has a doctorate in geology from Harvard University, disagrees with scientists who contend humans are causing global warming.

In resigning from The Planetary Society in 2008, Schmitt wrote "the 'global warming scare' is being used as a political tool to increase government control over American lives, incomes and decision making."'...More>>>>

Question: What is Schmitt's ideology?

Thursday, January 6, 2011


State of New Mexico

Office of the Governor

Susana Martinez


Contact: Scott Darnell

(505) 321-3943

For Immediate Release

January 6, 2011


SANTA FE – Governor Susana Martinez held a press conference in the Cabinet Room at the Capitol today to announce that she has nominated former astronaut and United States Senator Harrison “Jack” Schmitt to serve as secretary of the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department. In addition to his tenure in elected office, Sen. Schmitt is also a decorated public servant, scientist, and businessman.

After announcing the nomination, Governor Martinez stated, “Senator Schmitt’s diverse background gives him a wealth of knowledge and experience that will be helpful in guiding the responsible development and protection of New Mexico’s diverse natural resources. Harnessing and developing energy sources right here in New Mexico is critical to reviving our economy and creating jobs.”

After receiving his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1964, Schmitt earned his Air Force jet pilot wings in 1965 and Navy helicopter pilot wings in 1967. He was selected for NASA’s Scientist-Astronaut program in 1965. He served as Mission Scientist in support of the Apollo 11 mission and flew in space as part of the Apollo 17 mission. Schmitt landed on the Moon on December 11, 1972. After his career at NASA, Schmitt was elected to the United States Senate in 1976 and served in office for six years as a member of the Commerce, Banking, Appropriations, Intelligence, and Ethics Committees. Sen. Schmitt received his B.A. from Caltech and has received numerous awards and recognitions for his public service and work as a scientist.

In response to his nomination, Sen. Schmitt said, “I am proud to continue my career of public service as secretary of the Energy, Minerals, and Natural Resources Department under Governor Martinez. I look forward to working with the Governor to enhance New Mexico’s potential to be a leader in energy and natural resource development.”


Martinez halts environmental rules

The Daily Times
By Susan Montoya Bryan The Associated Press

"ALBUQUERQUE — Gov. Susana Martinez's administration is making good on campaign promises to drop new regulations aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions as well as other controversial rules passed in the waning days of the previous administration.

Officials at the state Environment Department have requested to keep the greenhouse gas reduction rules, as well as new pollution-control measures aimed at the dairy industry, from being published in upcoming editions of the Register.

Without publication, the rules will not take effect.

John Martinez, director of the state Administrative Law Division at the state records center, confirmed Wednesday he had received the request and that the rules would not be published.

The move was welcomed by Farmington Mayor Tommy Roberts. The city of Farmington has launched a lawsuit seeking to halt the regulations.

"The effort to enact regulations was politically motivated," Roberts said Wednesday. "I think there was disregard for the impact of the regulations on business in New Mexico."

The move is being criticized by environmental groups and lawyers who spent the past two years debating the merits of the rules before the state Environmental Improvement Board and the Water Quality Control Commission. Both panels endured days of public and expert testimony and had to review thousands of pages of documents before making their decisions.

The critics contend the administration is circumventing the law.

"In order to change an existing rule you have to go through the same process that you went through to adopt the rule. (Martinez) is trying to short circuit the process. She's trying to be above the law," said Bruce Frederick, an attorney with the New Mexico Environmental Law Center, which represented the nonprofit group New Energy Economy in its petition before the EIB for the greenhouse gas regulations.

Mike Eisenfeld, New Mexico energy coordinator for San Juan Citizens Alliance, said Martinez's action will only extend Northwest New Mexico's reliance on fossil fuels such as coal, a prospect he called "problematic."

"It appears that she's already creating a divisive situation, and some of the regulations that are in place are necessary," he said. "I understand that this is a political decision on her part, but I think it creates a lot of animosity." More>>>>

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Treatment plant ordered to stop accepting Marcellus Shale water

"Regulators are cracking down on a Marcellus Shale natural gas driller after finding out that truckloads of the company's wastewater had been improperly sent to the Delaware watershed.

The Delaware River Basin Commission ordered wastewater treatment center PSC Environmental Services LLC to stop accepting fluids from Cabot Oil & Gas Co. because the company sent 1.8 million gallons of wastewater to a Pennsylvania township. Much of the liquid, which was largely contaminated water from the hydraulic fracturing process, was discharged into Neshaminy Creek without being purified." More>>>>

Powell puts brakes on certain NM land leases

Associated Press - January 5, 2011

NewsWest 9

"ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - New Mexico Land Commissioner Ray Powell has issued a moratorium on certain leases for state lands while his office conducts a review.

The move was announced Tuesday, Powell's second day on the job.

Powell says the rule that governs planning and development leases is being reviewed and that no leases will be issued until the review is finished and local communities have an opportunity to weigh in." More>>>>

NM governor removes environmental board members

By The Associated Press

"ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez on Tuesday took aim at the controversial Environmental Improvement Board, announcing that she was removing all members over concerns about the board's approval in recent months of what she considers "antibusiness" policies.

The board — made up of members appointed by former Gov. Bill Richardson — was at the center of a heated debate last year over whether New Mexico should regulate greenhouse gas emissions. The board ultimately decided to approve two proposals — one from an environmental group that aimed to limit the emissions of the state's largest polluters and another from the state Environment Department that called for a regional cap-and-trade program.

Supporters argue the board went through an exhaustive public process before approving the regulations, but Martinez's office contends the board moved forward with the regulations after state lawmakers rejected similar efforts during the legislative process.

Martinez said in a statement that New Mexico has been hurt by policies that discourage economic development and result in businesses fleeing the state." More>>>>

Monday, January 3, 2011

'Fracking' Pollution In Water: Pennsylvania Allows Natural Gas Drilling Waste Disposal In Waterways
David B. Caruso

"The natural gas boom gripping parts of the U.S. has a nasty byproduct: wastewater so salty, and so polluted with metals like barium and strontium, that most states require drillers to get rid of the stuff by injecting it down shafts thousands of feet deep.

Not in Pennsylvania, one of the states at the center of the gas rush.

There, the liquid that gushes from gas wells is only partially treated for substances that could be environmentally harmful, then dumped into rivers and streams from which communities get their drinking water.

In the two years since the frenzy of activity began in the vast underground rock formation known as the Marcellus Shale, Pennsylvania has been the only state allowing waterways to serve as the primary disposal place for the huge amounts of wastewater produced by a drilling technique called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

State regulators, initially caught flat-footed, tightened the rules this year for any new water treatment plants but allowed any existing operations to continue discharging water into rivers.

At least 3.6 million barrels of the waste were sent to treatment plants that empty into rivers during the 12 months ending June 30, according to state records. That is enough to cover a square mile with more than 8 1/2 inches of brine.

Researchers are still trying to figure out whether Pennsylvania's river discharges, at their current levels, are dangerous to humans or wildlife. Several studies are under way, some under the auspices of the Environmental Protection Agency.

State officials, energy companies and the operators of treatment plants insist that with the right safeguards in place, the practice poses little or no risk to the environment or to the hundreds of thousands of people who rely on those rivers for drinking water.

But an Associated Press review found that Pennsylvania's efforts to minimize, control and track wastewater discharges from the Marcellus Shale have sometimes failed." More>>>>

BLM lifts holds on disputed Mont. leases
Phil Taylor, E&E reporter

"In a move that suggests the Bureau of Land Management will not force mandatory reductions of oil-field greenhouse gas emissions, the agency last week lifted suspensions on most of the 61 oil and gas leases it halted last year as part of a legal settlement with environmental groups.

The 53 affected leases were issued in 2008 but suspended last March under an agreement with environmental groups seeking to force the agency to require oil and gas operators to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The other eight of the original 61 leases were terminated in the meantime, BLM said.

"There was no significant impact to the environment or other resource from lifting the suspended leases," said BLM spokeswoman Mary Apple.

Bans were dropped on about 25,000 acres of leases, with 6,667 acres left under suspension while BLM explores possible impacts to sage grouse and Yellowstone cutthroat trout -- but not climate change impacts, the agency said.

BLM in August released eight environmental assessments (EAs) and a separate report detailing the likely greenhouse gas emissions from oil and gas drilling on public lands in Montana and the Dakotas." More>>>>

BLM response letter>>>>

GOP may use Congressional Review Act to target EPA regs -- Upton
Jean Chemnick, E&E reporter

"Stopping U.S. EPA's regulation of carbon dioxide under the Clean Air Act will be a top priority of the Republican-controlled House, the incoming chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee said yesterday.

Michigan Republican Fred Upton told Fox News that his party might use the Congressional Review Act to strike down greenhouse gas regulations that went into effect yesterday and take steps to head off other regulations the agency might have in the pipeline.

EPA phased in permitting requirements for certain large emitters of GHGs when they bring a new facility online or make certain upgrades to existing facilities." More>>>>

Sunday, January 2, 2011

NM Governor Martinez: EXECUTIVE ORDER 2011-001

Posting Executive Order 2011-001 for reference:




WHEREAS, New Mexico’s citizens, their government, and all persons doing business in this State have a mutual interest in the proper administration of government and business, requiring common sense administrative rules and regulations that are comprehensible, reasonable, consistent, predictable, responsive, and without undue redundancy;

WHEREAS, one of the priorities of the Governor of New Mexico is establishing a common sense approach to executive rules and regulations, in accordance with the constitutional authority to direct the departments and agencies of the State of New Mexico, by establishing a “Small Business-Friendly Task Force” chaired by the Secretary of Economic Development;

WHEREAS, most proposed and pending rules and regulations can be temporarily suspended without detriment to the health or welfare of the citizens of New Mexico;

WHEREAS, ninety days is a reasonable time to review such proposed and pending rules and regulations, to examine them from various perspectives as to their workability, reasonableness, and determine whether they are proper and necessary;

WHEREAS, such an effort is timely given current unemployment levels and state budget difficulties, in order to create economic opportunity for each and every New Mexican, while protecting and preserving the health, safety and welfare of our community.

THEREFORE, I, Susana Martinez, Governor of the State of New Mexico, by the authority vested in me by the Constitution of the State of New Mexico and by its statutes, do hereby ORDER and DIRECT:

1. All proposed and pending rules and regulations, excluding those not under the authority of the Governor, are suspended for a period of review of 90 days unless excepted as set forth below.

2. Proposed and pending regulations shall not be suspended if doing so would:

a. Adversely impact public health;

b. Adversely impact public safety or security;

c. Fail to comply with a judicial order or deadline;

d. Prevent the respective department or agency from carrying out its essential functions and duties; or

e. Prevent qualification for any federal funds or certifications.

3. Each department or agency shall submit to the Office of the Governor a comprehensive listing of proposed and pending rules and regulations, for review not later than January 14, 2011.

4. Any proposed or pending rules and regulations to which this Order applies and the department or agency believes should be treated as an exception pursuant to paragraph 2, shall be separately identified as such, with a statement as to the basis for the exception and how it applies.

5. The Office of the Governor may, with the advice of the head of the department or agency affected, determine whether any rule or regulation initially excepted under paragraph 2 shall remain excepted. The Office of the Governor may, with the advice of the head of the department or agency affected, determine whether any rule or regulation not initially excepted under paragraph 2 shall also be excepted.

6. Each department and agency shall also review all of its existing rules and regulations with a view to enhancing the purpose of this Task Force, and no later than January 31, 2011, identify to the Secretary of Economic Development each rule or regulation, the rescinding or revision of which could significantly enhance the business environment in New Mexico through economic development and employment growth.

7. The Task Force shall, at a minimum, consist of the Secretaries of Taxation and Revenue, Workforce Solutions, General Services, and others whom the Governor may designate.

8. The Task Force shall make a report to the Governor no later than 90 days from the effective date of this order, and shall continue, as needed, to make specific legislative and regulatory recommendations to achieve economic growth and stability in New Mexico.

9. This Order does not create any legal rights on the part of any person or entity and shall not be a basis for a challenge to rules or regulations or any other action or inaction by any New Mexico governmental department or agency.

THIS ORDER supersedes any other previous orders, proclamations, or directives to the extent they are in conflict. This Executive Order shall take effect immediately.