Thursday, February 28, 2013

NM SB 547 Not Heard Today

The fracking ban bill (see previous post) was not heard.  No Republicans showed; no quorum.  To be rescheduled...

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Rooted Lands

Santa Fe Farmers Market Institute,

Wednesday Night Movie Series,

Shows begin at 7pm


February 27

Rooted Lands

“Fracking has become a burning issue in Mora and San Miguel counties in recent years. Now a documentary film chronicling local efforts to hold fracking at bay is hitting the big screen in Las Vegas.” – Las Vegas Optic

The rural villages of Mora and San Miguel in New Mexico stand up and speak out against one of the world’s most powerful and dirty industries. Rooted Lands explores the citizen grassroots movement against gas and oil development tactics that include fracking and dramatic production of waste products. As mineral leases are bought by oil and gas speculators in rural counties like Mora and San Miguel, NM citizens are learning they must stand up to protect land and culture from suffering the Four Corners fate: “Mora County…is still pristine. They’re fighting to keep it that way. We’ve already lost that here [in the Four Corners]. The wellheads are leaking. The pits have overflowed…” Rooted Lands shows how the residents of mostly Hispanic villages (among the poorest communities in the U.S.) are speaking out against the powerful, dirty industry that threatens NM’s land and water.
“This is how we change federal law, folks, it starts at the bottom.”

Selection for Santa Fe Film Festival 2012
Selection for Wild and Scenic Film Festival 2013
Running time: 64 minutes.

New Mexico Senate Bill 547: Ban Horizontal Oil & Gas Fracturing

NM Senator William P. Soules - (D) from District 37, Dona Ana County, Las Cruces, is the sponsor of SB 547.  The bill is scheduled to be heard Thursday, Feb. 28 by the Senate Conservation Committee in Room 311.  The committee meets at 2:30pm.

SB 547 reads as follows:


'"[NEW MATERIAL] HORIZONTAL HYDRAULIC FRACTURING BANNED.--A person shall not combine horizontal drilling and multistage hydraulic fracturing in the state for the purpose of extracting oil or natural gas."'

Drilling oversight best left to locals

Please read the editorial from the Santa Fe New Mexican, "Drilling oversight best left to locals":

- See more at:
Full article link>>>>


"Residents in counties where drilling is less established — San Miguel, Taos, Mora and Rio Arriba, for example — have another point of view. So worried are county governments, in fact, that they are considering following Santa Fe County in writing more restrictive rules that companies must follow if they want to drill. Rio Arriba has an ordinance, and is considering amendments to tighten it.

To head off the renegade counties, the state and industry would like to clarify just who controls drilling regulations. Stepping up to help out is state Sen. Carlos Cisneros, D-Questa, who has introduced Senate Bill 463, which would cede power to the state — taking away a county government’s right to protect its water and land as it sees fit. This is an industry-backed bill, and somewhat surprising for Cisneros, who is calling it a way to start a conversation about state and local authority. Well, we agree that he has sparked a debate, perhaps a more fiery one than he wanted. It only makes sense to let the people closest to the land and water decide what happens in their backyards. Just as folks in Hobbs and Lovington don’t seem to mind drilling, farmers and small ranchers in Mora County or Rio Arriba County want more answers about whether drilling will damage their water — and that should be their prerogative. The backlash been so loud, that Cisneros is thinking of switching the bill’s status to a memorial that requests a study. He is right that the two viewpoints — locals’ desire to protect their land and water, and an industry’s need to develop resources and make money — are often “diametrically opposed.” We’d say the good senator should side with his constituents over the needs of industry."

Monday, February 25, 2013

State preemption and other bills

Staci Matlock | The New Mexican
Posted: Sunday, February 24, 2013

..."A fight ahead

Both the state and industry want a law clarifying authority over oil and gas operations. The New Mexico Oil and Gas Association convinced Sen. Carlos Cisneros, D-Questa, to carry a bill this session giving the state the power to preempt local oil and gas ordinances.

“We thought it was a way to respect both state and local governments,” said Wally Drangmeister, communications director for the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association.

Cisneros said Senate Bill 463 is a way to start a needed conversation about the jurisdiction of the state versus local governments over oil and gas operations. “The intent was to get the dialogue going,” Cisneros said."...

Sidebar of oil & gas bills by Staci Matlock, SFNM:

Oil and gas bills
"• House Bill 136 (Rep. Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe) requires more extensive disclosure of chemicals and fluids used in fracking fluids than currently required under a state Oil Conservation Division rule.
Industry says the chemicals that are considered hazardous or toxic under federal law are already listed on state forms, but that the amounts and mixtures are “trade secrets.” The New Mexico Attorney General found that companies claimed trade secret protection for 84 percent of fracking fluids listed, higher than Texas or Colorado.
The bill squeaked through the House Energy and Natural Resources committee, chaired by Egolf, with Republicans voting against it. The bill has yet to be scheduled in its next committee, House Agriculture and Water Resources.
• HB 286 (Gail Chasey, D-Albuquerque, and Michael Sanchez, D-Belen) Increases the bonds and penalties under the Oil and Gas Act for well operators. The blanket financial assurance bonds, last updated in 1978, would increase to a minimum of $50,000 and a maximum of $100,000. The penalties for violators of the act, unchanged since 1935, would rise from $1,000 per day to $10,000.
Increasing the penalty for violations isn’t the issue with Karin Foster, executive director of the Independent Petroleum Association of New Mexico. She said the increased penalties would be in line with violations under other state laws, but the bill removes wording that makes the penalties apply only to oil and gas operators who “knowingly and willfully” violate the Oil and Gas Act.
• HB 335 (Egolf and Sanchez) would require groundwater assessment and monitoring for fracking oil and gas wells. Requires geologic and hydrologic tests within a 2,000-meter radius of a well head to a depth of 1,000 feet below the oil or gas well’s target depth. The bill specifies a list of chemicals to be tested for with the intent of establishing a baseline for water quality before oil or gas production begins. The bill will be heard first in the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
• HB 429 (Georgene Louis, D-Albuquerque) would allow a private citizen or entity to sue the state to enforce environmental regulations if they feel an agency’s failure to act is causing them harm. Republicans in the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee voted against the bill, saying it would increase the number of frivolous lawsuits. Advocates from environmental and citizen groups say it will help ordinary people ensure agencies and staff are upholding permits and laws. The measure passed the committee 6-5, after an amendment was added that will make the loser of any such lawsuit — defendant or plaintiff — pay the costs. The measure will be heard next by the House Judiciary Committee.
•  Senate Bill 463 (Carlos Cisneros, D-Questa) state preemption of local oil and gas laws."


Thursday, February 21, 2013

Santa Fe County Oil & Gas Ordinance Video

From Red Rock Pictures, a new video about the Santa Fe County Ordinance:

NM Bill to Preempt County Oil & Gas Ordinances

A New Mexico bill introduced, then gone?  See below the email cut-n-paste from Kim Sorvig:

"Dear friends –
Well, it appears we did it!  For those who haven’t heard, Sen. Carlos Cisneros got so much negative publicity for his State Pre-emption bill (SB 463) that when interviewed on KVOT (Taos) yesterday, he said that the bill was “going nowhere” and “dead”, and that he had requested the chairman of the Conservation Committee (Peter Wirth) to “put it on hold.”

We still need to keep an eye on this.  A bill “on hold” is NOT entirely “dead” and can be re-introduced by the sponsor on request, at any time.  However, in this case, scheduling is Sen. Wirth’s call, completely.  I am confident that he will make sure the public knows about it if the bill arises from the grave.

Apparently NMOGA has emerged from the smoke-and-mirrors as the obvious origin of the bill, and they are pushing hard on Cisneros (and anybody else they can) to get their bill back in circulation.  But it is going to take a lot for Cisneros to reverse himself now.

This was a stealth bill – titled so you wouldn’t have a clue what it did or that it was about oil and gas.  Likely, Sen. Cisneros was not supposed to let any publicity happen.  We have had a chance to see how NMOGA goes about their business, which can help us next time around.

From everything I am hearing, it was your e-mails and calls that made this happen.  Thanks to Commissioner Liz Stefanics for the initial alert when the bill was introduced; to Nancy Stapp (KVOT) for publicizing citizen concerns and the great interview with Cisneros; to Pat Leahan of Las Vegas Peace and Justice for a brilliantly clear summary of the issues on an earlier Nancy Stapp show; to Gail Buono for her watchdog duty; and to all of you who took action and forwarded the information.

We have to be in this for the long term.  Pre-emption will be back.  But we made our voice heard. Let’s make that an annual event!

Kim Sorvig
PS: You can listen to both the Cisneros interview (scary or hysterical, depending on your mood) AND Pat Leahan’s excellent issues summary, at the following website.  The recordings will either stream or download.


Senate Bill 463 link:  click here>>>>