Monday, February 25, 2013

State preemption and other bills

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


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