Sunday, June 1, 2008

"'Hippie' defense red herring for gas derived profits"--SF New Mexican

It's a sign of our surreal times when the people trying to protect Santa Fe County from the horrors of drilling are blamed for record-high fuel costs. Never mind that the soaring prices are the fault of the international commodities market and multibillion-dollar energy corporations, industry will have you believe it's all because of those damn hippies.

As if there's even enough oil in the Galisteo Basin to make a dent in the national supply. The one well that Tecton Energy operated there, before temporarily abandoning, early this year, produced fewer than 50 total barrels of oil in nine months.

The company probably used more oil to fuel its semi-trucks, generators and drilling rig than it extracted from that dismal failure of a well.

What the company is really after — and is hoping you won't notice — is natural gas. No offense to those of you who know this, but I've heard and read enough bizarre comments to necessitate adding these lines: Gasoline is a nasty distillate refined from oil. There is very little oil left to extract in New Mexico. What I'm talking about is the "unconventional recovery" of natural gas and probably coal-bed methane. By "gas" I do not mean "gasoline."

As with oil, there's no guarantee that whatever gas is trapped deep beneath the surface can be released and recovered. The geologic formations in the Galisteo Basin and surrounding areas are so tight, they make any oil and gas operation risky and costly. It's a gamble, but played with human lives, not poker chips.

Gas drilling is tearing up the Rocky Mountains, from Montana to New Mexico. Live in a gasfield — and I know people who have — and you'll think you've gone to hell. Day and night, flare stacks burn methane, sulfur and other noxious gases — a ticking firebomb in our often tinder-dry land.

Toxic pits of antifreeze, carcinogens and even radioactive substances stagnate on private property, killing any animal that mistakes them for ponds.