Monday, November 30, 2009

CORE VALUES--Alianza Tierra de Mora

Mora County, New Mexico, is beloved by ranchers, farmers, sportsmen, outfitters and
guides, local business, concerned citizens, outdoor enthusiasts, herbalists, and conservation
groups. In accord with Mora County’s inherent beauty and value, we believe the following:

1. Mora County's rich soil and clean water preserve the historical agriculture
and acequias that are important to the local economy and culture.
2. Mora County's pristine land and rivers are extremely valuable to all county
residents as well as to visitors and tourists.
3. Mora County's unique culture is important to county residents and to the
nation, as examples of our living history.
4. Mora County's forest and plains areas provide essential living space for many
wild animals, and diverse plant life which are also an important aspect of this
pristine, historical area.
5. Mora County's wild lands provide hunting, fishing, firewood, and other
recreation for people throughout the nation, and as such are especially important
in these times of diminishing wild areas.

Based on these values, we believe that it is a profound mistake to exploit this special
place for the principal benefit of the current energy industry. Consequently, Mora County
should be preserved for its culture, biological diversity and small green development,
thereby protected for the benefit of present and future generations of all Americans.

"Core Values"--To Whom it may Concern

November 25, 2009

United Communities of Santa Fe County (UCSFC) is issuing this letter of support for Drilling Mora County and Alianza Tierra de Mora because of their core values which align with our organization’s.

These are really citizen-led organizations that are based on pure empowerment---they feel that members have a public and moral responsibility to make it work for them. Their connection to the land, “La Tierra”, is something that most Americans have lost after the Dust bowl and the Great Depression. Families come first and the land is the link to all generations---not something to throw away or disrespect.

As they live their daily lives in Mora County;they are lovers of the air, water and vistas. Northern New Mexico culture and traditions have been made famous in movies like: Milagro-Beanfield War,Red Sky at Morning, And Now Miguel and Where Angels Go Trouble Follows. With story plots of where: the little guy steeped in tradition is taken advantage of by the rich man immersed in greed---and then the People come together to win the day. The scenes of these movies could have Mora County inserted as the locale and we all would get who the villains are from today…..

The rallying cry: “your participation, your voice ---is vital to our success” brings out the family, friends and neighbors. Acequias associations, parish councils and village elders come together to battle the injustice and the unfairness. These groups knew environmentalism before it was cool and the Green thing to do. The blood that runs in the veins, the water that runs in the streams, the chili that runs into our food; all is thicker than the oil that lines the pockets of Wall Street.

UCSFC knows that when you read this message you will understand what to do. Your action will be appreciated. Thank you again for listening to us.


William H. Mee for the Steering Committee
United Communities of Santa Fe County

Northern Group of the Sierra Club’s Rio Grande Chapter Letter to the Mora County Commissioners

Subject: Mora County letter
1807 2nd St, Santa Fe NM 87505
The Honorable Peter Martinez, Chair, (Laudente Quintana, Gino Maes)
Mora County Commission
Mora, NM
October 22, 2009

Dear Commissioner Martinez (Quintana, Maes):

On behalf of the Northern Group of the Sierra Club’s Rio Grande Chapter, I write to urge you to prevent oil and gas
exploitation of Mora County and to maintain the County’s current development guidance system (DGS).

Based on extensive analysis of proposed oil and gas drilling in Santa Fe and Rio Arriba Counties, we feel certain that oil and gas drilling in Mora County, especially if the DGS is not followed, would be detrimental to the land, water, tradition
and cultural dynamics of the area.

We also ask that the County require perspective drillers in pristine areas to first make the case that there is a strong
likelihood of finding substantial oil and gas recoverable resources prior to any drilling and water well analysis of the
extent of hydrocarbons in well water. There are many non-destructive techniques for assessing oil and gas potential
other than drilling wells. Such an assessment might include analysis of prior attempts to find oil and gas, aerial
investigations, 3-D seismic exploration, geological modeling, and water well analysis of the extent of hydrocarbons in well water.

You should be proud that Mora County’s DGS has been recognized by land use planners as the best rural development
guidance system in New Mexico. Use of the system means that land can remain available for uses such as hunting, fishing, agricultural irrigation, grazing, wood gathering, camping, wildlife viewing, and just soaking up the scenery. Drilling threatens each of these traditional uses.

We recognize there has been overwhelming public support for protection of Mora County, illustrated by public meetings held in the past two years in the County against the concept of drilling in Mora County.

Your prevention of unbridled oil and gas drilling exploration and development in Mora County and maintenance of the
Development Guidance System is truly appreciated.

Ken Hughes,
Conservation Chair

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Stanley Ranch bids on White Peak trust land--Santa Fe New Mexican

By Stacy Matlock, reporter

Call it what you like, the 40,000 acres of prime hunting land in northeastern New Mexico is controversial.

The single envelope in a locked box at the State Land Office after 4 p.m. Tuesday is the opening salvo in the latest fight over access and landownership around the peak. The envelope contained David Stanley's bid to purchase 7,205 acres of state trust land around White Peak. The land was appraised at $6.3 million. Stanley plans to trade the land for 3,336 acres of his private Stanley Ranch land on the east side of White Peak.

It is one of four proposed land exchanges cut between State Land Commissioner Patrick Lyons and four ranchers, including Stanley. Lyons said the exchanges will consolidate state trust lands leading to new public access routes, better hunting opportunities, improved wildlife habitat and more opportunities for other outdoor recreation.

Lyons said something must be done to finally resolve trespass and property damage problems on private land around what he now calls Whites Peak. And he is threatening to yank hunting privileges on the state trust lands if this land swap doesn't go through.

Hunters and others who've grown up using the area aren't buying it. They say it's yet another attempt by the commissioner to close access on a popular road to the area, and say the hunting is just fine as it is. "My personal opinion is if the process had been transparent and sportsmen, hunters and outdoor enthusiasts had been involved and agreed on something, it wouldn't be so controversial," said Danny Cruz, former Springer mayor. "Right now it looks like the state land commissioner, duly elected by the people, representing the people, is filling in for minority private interests."

The New Mexico Wildlife Federation notes the state land office would lose 4,000 acres of trust lands in the Stanley Ranch swap. The state claims the acreage is valued at about the same amount, "but the public hasn't seen the appraisals," said Jeremy Vesbach, executive director of the New Mexico Wildlife Federation. .....more......

Friday, November 20, 2009

Pennsylvania residents sue over gas drilling

By Jon Hurdle

DIMOCK, Pennsylvania (Reuters) - Residents of a small rural Pennsylvania town sued Cabot Oil & Gas Corp on Friday, claiming the company's natural-gas drilling has contaminated their water wells with toxic chemicals, caused sickness and reduced their property values.

The lawsuit accuses the company of violating state environmental laws by allowing drilling chemicals to escape from gas wells, where they are used in a technique called hydraulic fracturing.

A Cabot spokesman said the company had not had time to study the lawsuit in detail but said Cabot was in full compliance with Pennsylvania's environmental laws and "disappointed" by the lawsuit.

"We don't see merit in these claims," Cabot spokesman Ken Komoroski said.

The company, like others in the industry, has argued that its drilling processes are safe because chemicals are heavily diluted and are injected into the ground through layers of steel and concrete thousands of feet below the aquifers that are used for drinking water.

The industry says there has never been a documented case of ground water contamination because of hydraulic fracturing.

The case is one of the first to confront the industry over the technique, which critics claim pollutes aquifers with chemicals that can cause cancer and other serious illnesses.

Cabot's drilling allowed methane to escape into private water wells and in two cases caused wellhead explosions due to a gas build-up, the 15 families in the lawsuit claim.

Pat Farnelli, 46, a plaintiff in the lawsuit, told reporters on Friday that some of her eight children suffered stomach cramps after drinking water from the family's well, which is a few hundred yards from a gas well. She ruled out water-borne bacteria because boiling the water didn't help.


The suit is the culmination of complaints by residents of the northeastern Pennsylvania community where Cabot has drilled dozens of gas wells in its efforts to develop the Marcellus Shale, a massive gas formation that underlies about two-thirds of Pennsylvania and parts of surrounding states.

"These releases, spills and discharges caused the plaintiffs and their property to be exposed to such hazardous gases, chemicals and industrial wastes," said the complaint.

The complaint says residents have suffered neurological, gastrointestinal and dermatological symptoms from exposure to tainted water. They also say they have had blood test results consistent with exposure to heavy metals.

Victoria Switzer, a plaintiff who lives about a mile from Carter's home, said she had joined the lawsuit because she had failed to get satisfaction from the state Department of Environmental Protection or her elected representatives.

"Lawyers were the last thing I wanted," she said. "We are not greedy people, we just want some justice." Continued...

New York Drilling Study a Step Forward--Pro Publica

by Abrahm Lustgarten, ProPublica - October 22, 2009 11:00 pm EST
New York's recently released review of the environmental risks [1] (PDF) posed by natural gas production in the Marcellus Shale offers the clearest picture yet of the chemicals used in the drilling process called hydraulic fracturing.

The document makes public the names of 260 chemicals, more than eight times as many as Pennsylvania state regulators have compiled. The list is the most complete released by any state or federal agency and could help answer concerns about hydraulic fracturing in Congress and in states where gas drilling has increased in recent years.

The review also takes another dramatic step by proposing that in certain situations companies that drill in New York be required to report the concentrations of the chemicals they use to state regulators, thereby creating a suite of information that environmental scientists say is essential to investigating water pollution from drilling. New York would be the first state to make such a demand.

The industry has been reluctant to release information about the chemicals it uses, because it considers them a proprietary trade secret. While New York has made the names of the chemicals public, it seems likely that the data about their concentration will be shared only with state officials.

The 800-page environmental impact assessment also proposes a slew of safeguards for well construction, waste disposal and water protection. If those rules are finalized after the ongoing public review period, New York's environmental protections for gas drilling would be among the strongest in the nation.

"In a number of areas these regulations are more stringent than in other states," said Kate Sinding, a senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council. "As commendable as that is, and wanting to give the department credit where credit is due, the bar set in most other states is so abysmally low, it still begs the question of whether stronger is strong enough."

Environmental scientists have long sought complete information about the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing, saying they need it to thoroughly investigate water pollution. Contamination can occur when the chemicals are pumped underground, held in waste pits or trucked to water treatment plants before being discharged back into rivers and drinking water supplies.

Colorado passed regulations last year requiring companies to disclose the names of chemicals, but they apply only to chemicals held in 50-gallons drums or larger. Now the industry is suing Colorado to repeal the group of regulations that includes that clause. In Pennsylvania, environment officials told ProPublica that their list of chemical products used for drilling there was complete, but it names just 39 products and 31 unique chemicals. Congress has been debating a bill to require disclosure, but the industry is fighting the legislation with millions of dollars in lobbying efforts.

New York obtained the names of the chemicals by surveying drilling companies, their contractors and the manufacturers of the chemicals. The Department of Environmental Conservation identified 152 trademarked products and obtained the complete list of their ingredients; it gathered a partial list of ingredients for an additional 45 products.

The review, which was released last month, leaves some environmental concerns unanswered. It offers few specific measures to protect New York City's watershed -- the unfiltered source of drinking water for nearly half the state's population. It says that wastewater will be treated by facilities in New York and Pennsylvania, but does not confirm whether those plants have the capacity to receive Marcellus Shale wastewater or the technology to make that water safe. Critics also complain it does little to describe how several thousand new wells would cumulatively affect air and water quality, leaving the analysis to a per-well basis..........more...........

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Tucumcari Basin exploration for helium-a bi-product of natural gas exploration

The above map is IAC’s activity map for the Tucumcari Basin in Guadalupe, Quay, and San Miguel Counties, New Mexico. Due to the heightened exploration activity in the area, we believe the Basin will be one of the largest producers of helium in the country as it becomes fully developed. Although the highest helium concentrations lie outside Shell’s primary exploratory focus (area in yellow), the entire area is known to possess varying helium concentrations between 0.5% to nearly 1.5%. IAC has varying interests in areas outlined in red comprising nearly 240,000 acres.

Helium is a by-product of natural gas production and is accessed through the hyrdaulic fracturing process.

Information regarding well activity in the area can be found at the New Mexico Oil Conservation Division website (OCD Online)

For more information on activity in the Tucumcari Basin, please read: Shell nurses Tucumcari gas discovery area (Oil and Gas Journal, Feb. 9, 2009)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Health Issues Follow Natural Gas Drilling In Texas--NPR

by John Burnett

Vast new natural gas fields have opened up thanks to an advanced drilling technique. While natural gas is a cleaner burning fuel than coal or petroleum, extracting it is still hard, dirty work. Some people who live near the massive Barnett Shale gas deposit in north Texas, have compliants. Health and environmental concerns are prompting state regulators to take a closer look........go to web page and listen to this report.........

The Halliburton Loophole--New York Times Editorial

November 3, 2009

Among the many dubious provisions in the 2005 energy bill was one dubbed the Halliburton loophole, which was inserted at the behest of — you guessed it — then-Vice President Dick Cheney, a former chief executive of Halliburton.

It stripped the Environmental Protection Agency of its authority to regulate a drilling process called hydraulic fracturing. Invented by Halliburton in the 1940s, it involves injecting a mixture of water, sand and chemicals, some of them toxic, into underground rock formations to blast them open and release natural gas.

Hydraulic fracturing has been implicated in a growing number of water pollution cases across the country. It has become especially controversial in New York, where regulators are eager to clear the way for drilling in the New York City watershed, potentially imperiling the city’s water supply. Thankfully, the main company involved has now decided not to go ahead.

The safety of the nation’s water supply should not have to rely on luck or the public relations talents of the oil and gas industry. Thanks in part to two New Yorkers — Representative Maurice Hinchey and Senator Charles Schumer — Congress last week approved a bill that asks the E.P.A. to conduct a new study on the risks of hydraulic fracturing. An agency study in 2004 whitewashed the industry and was dismissed by experts as superficial and politically motivated. This time Congress is demanding “a transparent, peer-reviewed process.”

An even more important bill is waiting in the wings. Cumbersomely named the Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals Act, it would close the loophole and restore the E.P.A.’s rightful authority to regulate hydraulic fracturing. It would also require the oil and gas industry to disclose the chemicals they use.

The industry argues that the chemicals are proprietary secrets and that disclosing them would hurt their competitiveness. It also argues that the process is basically safe and that regulating it would deter domestic production. But if hydraulic fracturing is as safe as the industry says it is, why should it fear regulation?

Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company

Monday, November 2, 2009

Opera’s Drilling Plans Strike a Sour Note--New York Times

Compiled by Dave Itzkoff
Published: October 13, 2009

The Santa Fe Opera’s plan to drill for oil and gas in two New Mexico counties is meeting with resistance from local residents, The Associated Press reported. In 2002 the Santa Fe Opera received permission to drill on nearly 27,000 acres in Mora and San Miguel counties as part of a bequest from a donor, who wanted any revenue to be used to support an apprentice program for young singers. More recently residents learned that in April the opera company signed a lease with an independent company that acquires leases on behalf of oil and gas producers. Opponents say the drilling will harm water, air, wildlife and agriculture in the area. “To see an art company sell out the environment, that was a very egregious act as far as I was concerned,” Kathleen Dudley, the co-chairwoman of the watchdog group Drilling Mora County, told The A.P. Charles MacKay, the general director of the opera, said it would seek a resolution that would address its opponents’ concerns.