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State Proposal Clamps Down on Oil Drilling (NM, Otero Mesa)
The Santa Fe New Mexican ^ | Tuesday, March 9, 2004 | Associated Press

Posted on 03/09/2004 7:22:25 PM PST by CedarDave

Gov. Bill Richardson's administration is recommending that the federal government prohibit or sharply restrict oil and gas drilling on more than 600,000 acres in southern New Mexico, including desert grasslands of Otero Mesa.

The state submitted a proposal on Monday to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management as an alternative to a draft federal plan to guide oil and gas exploration and development on more than 2 million acres in Sierra and Otero counties.

Richardson has proposed that Congress establish a National Conservation Area on about 640,000 acres, which would include Chihuahuan Desert grasslands.

Of that, 310,000 acres would be closed to drilling and there would be "no surface occupancy" by oil and gas activities on about 330,000 acres, which would limit any exploration or production to so-called directional drilling from sites outside the restricted zone, according to the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department.

The governor, at a news conference, described the Otero Mesa area as "sacred grasslands" and likened it to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, which has been the subject of debate in Congress over whether to allow oil development there.

The state's proposal for the region would allow oil and exploration on 894,000 acres but with restrictions to protect plants, wildlife, groundwater and cultural sites. Several historic trails pass through portions of the area.

The state plan would leave 709,350 acres open to leasing with no special restrictions, about half as much as under the BLM plan.

Richardson and environmentalists contend the BLM's plan doesn't adequately protect the fragile and biologically rich desert grasslands.

The BLM, Richardson said, "has not done its homework."

Oil and gas producers say there could be a large natural gas reserve in the Otero Mesa area and they want access for drilling exploration.

Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Secretary Joanna Prukop said the state proposal balanced environmental protection with the energy needs of the state and nation.

"I think it's a fair plan. I hope it's given fair consideration" by BLM, Prukop said in a telephone news conference.

The state outlined its proposal as part of an overall review of the BLM draft plan issued earlier this year.

A BLM spokesman, Rem Hawes, said the state plan was "a very serious document that we need to take some time looking at" before the federal agency made a final decision on leasing guidelines for the region.

Environmentalists and a hunting group applauded the state proposal.

"Otero Mesa deserves protection, and the governor has given the BLM the blueprint for compromise," said Stephen Capra, associate director of the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance.

Oscar Simpson, president of the New Mexico Wildlife Federation, said the state proposal "will require BLM to safeguard New Mexico's wildlife and water resources for present and future generations and, in conjunction, allow development of oil and gas."

Bob Gallagher, president of the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association, said some of the proposed state requirements would be nearly impossible to meet.

"A lot of it sounds good when you look at it on paper, but I don't believe it affords any protection in reality," Gallagher said.

Hawes said the BLM plan was the most restrictive developed by the agency. About 86,000 acres would be closed to drilling. Leasing would be allowed on 520,000 acres, but with limitations. There also would be a cap on the amount of land that could be directly disturbed at any one time by well pads, roads and pipelines, he said.

Richardson asked that the BLM allow the public to comment on the alternative plan and hold public meetings in Albuquerque and Las Cruces.

Prukop said the BLM plan was reviewed by the state and found to be inconsistent with game-management plans, the state water plan, water-quality regulations, the Noxious Weed Management Act, Oil Conservation Division rules and the state Cultural Properties Act.

Under the state's proposed restrictions, the oil and gas industry would have to time operations to avoid seasons of high winds as well as animal calving and fawning; limit drilling to one surface site for each 1,440 acres; use only electric compressors and pump motors to reduce noise; bury power lines in underground conduits; and take special measures to protect groundwater from contamination in the areas open to restricted development.

Last week, The Associated Press reported that the BLM's development plan eased proposed Clinton-era drilling restrictions in the Otero Mesa area, a decision that could benefit a large Republican donor in the state.

The donor, George Yates, has said his contributions and fund-raising assistance to Vice President Dick Cheney had nothing to do with the agency's decision. The Interior Department has said its plan, while opening up more land in Otero Mesa, will continue to be very restrictive on drilling.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; Government; News/Current Events; US: New Mexico; US: Texas
KEYWORDS: drilling; energy; environment; envirowhackos; oilandgas; oteromesa; richardson
The governor, at a news conference, described the Otero Mesa area as "sacred grasslands" and likened it to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, which has been the subject of debate in Congress over whether to allow oil development there.

I'd hardly call it a grassland. Not much grass there, which is why it is essentially undeveloped, even to ranching. And that is the crux of the issue. No one's going to visit the area for its beauty, but the enviro-whackos want it undisturbed, just so they can stop the evil oil companies. The area immediately to the west is used by the U.S. Army to simulate desert warfare and develop tactics used last spring in Iraq, if that tells you anything. Check out some of the online reader comments -- the locals (at least some of them) are beginning to get it: Lack of oil means a greater hit in their wallet/pocketbook -- gasoline prices are $1.75/gallon and rising in Santa Fe this week.

1 posted on 03/09/2004 7:22:25 PM PST by CedarDave
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To: farmfriend
PING to your list, please.
2 posted on 03/09/2004 7:24:08 PM PST by CedarDave (A lie from your opponent left unanswered becomes the truth in the eye of a typical "swing" voter.)
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To: CedarDave
N.M. GOP Donor Gets Oil-Drilling Leeway

The government has eased Clinton-era oil and gas drilling restrictions on a large tract of desert grassland in New Mexico in a decision that benefits a large Republican donor in the state.

The donor, George Yates, says his contributions and fund-raising assistance to Vice President Dick Cheney (news - web sites) had nothing to do with the decision. The Interior Department says its drilling plan, while opening up more land in Otero Mesa, will be the most restrictive ever.

http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/ap/donor_drilling

Not exactly a fair and balanced article, but Otero Mesa is in the news.

3 posted on 03/09/2004 7:30:24 PM PST by hedgetrimmer
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To: CedarDave
Just another bloated Democrat wanting to keep the US dependent on foriegn energy sources.
4 posted on 03/09/2004 7:30:50 PM PST by CheezyD
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To: CedarDave
My goodness, we must stop oil drilling in New Mexico! If we don't, some unemployed New Mexicans might get good-paying jobs, stop needing government handouts, and even become (gasp!) REPUBLICANS! End the horror now! < /sarcasm >
5 posted on 03/09/2004 7:32:19 PM PST by Slings and Arrows (Am Yisrael Chai!)
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To: CedarDave
"doesn't adequately protect the fragile and biologically rich desert grasslands."

"Biologically rich?"

Bwahahahahaha!

'Course, Richardson's a Clintonoid, so you wouldn't expect any truth and reality from him.

6 posted on 03/09/2004 7:35:15 PM PST by nightdriver
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To: CedarDave
meet Bill Richardson - Wildlands project implementor
7 posted on 03/09/2004 7:35:56 PM PST by Texas_Jarhead
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To: CedarDave
Where is Otero Mesa, down next to White Sands?

Hey-- if Kerry puts Richardson on his ticket, maybe we'll get rid of him, huh!

Another speculation: if Kerry wins this election, G-d forbid, am I the only one who's thinking that military and government labs will take a funding hit?

8 posted on 03/09/2004 7:39:40 PM PST by maxwell (Well I'm sure I'd feel much worse if I weren't under such heavy sedation...)
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To: CedarDave
If we are very very lucky, he will throw himself under the rig and try to stop them from spudding in with his body.

So9

9 posted on 03/09/2004 7:41:42 PM PST by Servant of the 9 (Goldwater Republican)
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To: maxwell
Close. Further south, just north of the Texas border, and just east of El Paso. Very, very desolate area. You can travel 80-90 mph on highway 62-180 and spot a car or vehicle (maybe a state trooper) miles away. Of course, traveling that fast, especially in an SUV, is anathema to the environmentalists.

BTW, in my unsuccessful Google search for pictures, I saw multiple numbers of websites dedicated to both the environment AND bashing President Bush.
10 posted on 03/09/2004 7:53:11 PM PST by CedarDave (A lie from your opponent left unanswered becomes the truth in the eye of a typical "swing" voter.)
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To: CedarDave
The key to energy independence is multiple sources.

I leave it to someone else to determine the merits of Richardson's case, but if you reflexively take US oil and gas fields out of production you should not then complain about the price of energy.

The environmental issue is not particularly valid; an oilfield is off limits to hunting, and most wildlife roams freely. Under modern regulations spills are cleaned up within hours. When the oil is gone, a few decades from now, the area will still be essentially undeveloped, the wildlife will all still be there.

And finally, whether Richardson is remunerated for his service or not is beyond my ability to know; but he should be, he serves Saudi interests well and so does anyone and any group that reflexively works to stimy non-Opec production. Notice when he retires from the governorship if he appoints himself the head of his own institute for the furtherance of who-knows-what-issue, funded by who-knows-what-sources of revenue.
11 posted on 03/09/2004 7:54:42 PM PST by marron
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To: BOBTHENAILER
PING
12 posted on 03/09/2004 7:54:57 PM PST by CedarDave (A lie from your opponent left unanswered becomes the truth in the eye of a typical "swing" voter.)
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To: CedarDave
"Gov. Bill Richardson's administration is recommending that the federal government prohibit or sharply restrict oil and gas drilling on more than 600,000 acres in southern New Mexico, including desert grasslands of Otero Mesa."

I certainly hope not. My former boss did a lot of business with Natural Gas plants. That is going to hurt the New Mexican economy.
13 posted on 03/09/2004 7:57:35 PM PST by writer33 (The U.S. Constitution defines a Conservative)
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To: marron
Good comments. On Fox this morning, I heard that the Saudis or other middle-eastern energy countries might tighten supplies as the election approaches so as to hurt the economy and defeat Bush. Wonder why.

Hunting in the oil patch in NM is not off limits, but there is not much to hunt! Most animals are nocturnal and not hunting species.

The biggest problem with oil drilling (or any other activity out there) is that the footprint of man will remain long after the wells have been plugged and area has been cleaned up. Roads cut in an area that receives less than 6 inches of rain in a good year remain essentially forever. Even small off-road vehicle ATV's leave a foot print. This, essentially is what the environmentalists are fighting for -- keep the area pristine so no roads show up on maps or aerial photos in the future. It is essentially an aesthetic thing with them -- they may never visit it, but knowing it is untouched (essentially) gives it worth in their value base.

I think most of us have a tolerance for some disturbance in our environment (or else we would never build a new house on an undeveloped lot). And not many of us would want a large permanent power plant blocking our view of a spectacular vista. But when it gets down to constructing a short road to a small drilling pad, temporary in nature, to produce something of economic value, most of us would allow the development to go forward. Our value system can balance the amount of disturbance with the economic value obtained and feel comfortable with that. Not so the environmentalists in this case. They are radical in the sense that their value system does not allow for this choice to be made and they are tenacious in their opposition to it.
14 posted on 03/09/2004 8:14:37 PM PST by CedarDave (A lie from your opponent left unanswered becomes the truth in the eye of a typical "swing" voter.)
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To: CedarDave
62-180, off 285, huh... I take 84 down toward I-20 all the time because it's shorter but one of these days when I get some time (ha) I want to do 285 down through Roswell and them.. That would take me down close by Otero Mesa, looks like.

Well I won't drive an SUV (bad kharma for motorcyclists in my experience) but I reckon a 1/2 ton pickup would work just as well. :)

Seems like gas went up all of a sudden. The other week I was b!tching about $1.69 in Santa Fe. I never buy gas in Santa Fe unless I am running on absolute fumes... I don't think that Richardson thinks through these things very well...

15 posted on 03/09/2004 8:15:00 PM PST by maxwell (Well I'm sure I'd feel much worse if I weren't under such heavy sedation...)
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To: CedarDave
Well stated.

In our area we went through a period where we were forced to jump through every hoop to preserve critters that live in the oil fields, despite the fact that they preferentially live in the oilfields because no one bothers them there. If it weren't for the oil development, they would be cattle pastures, or irrigated and farmed, and the animals in question would have been forced to move on long ago.

That kind of interference seems to have abated some. I think the oil companies have all started paying off the environmental groups, and have won some peace in recent years.
16 posted on 03/09/2004 8:25:49 PM PST by marron
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To: maxwell
Actually, you can't get to it that way. It's on the west side of the Guadalupe Mountains. There are no paved roads into the area. The best way to get to see it is to take 62-180 west from Carlsbad over Guadalupe Pass. About half-way between Carlsbad and El Paso, there is a turnoff north to Dell City, Texas. Dell City is on the southern end of the area in question. The other way to see it is to take US 54 north out of El Paso past Oro Grande to the Border Patrol inspection station. Turn right on the dirt county road at the station and continue east until you are no longer on the military reservation. Bring water and a full tank of gas, you don't want to be caught short of either in that area.
17 posted on 03/09/2004 8:27:20 PM PST by CedarDave (A lie from your opponent left unanswered becomes the truth in the eye of a typical "swing" voter.)
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To: CedarDave; abbi_normal_2; Ace2U; Alamo-Girl; Alas; alfons; alphadog; amom; AndreaZingg; ...
Rights, farms, environment ping.
Let me know if you wish to be added or removed from this list.
I don't get offended if you want to be removed.
18 posted on 03/09/2004 11:01:16 PM PST by farmfriend ( Isaiah 55:10,11)
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To: CedarDave
I'll try to post IPANM's response to this madness, on your thread.
19 posted on 03/10/2004 2:20:42 AM PST by BOBTHENAILER (One by one, in small groups or in whole armies, we don't care how we do, but we're gonna getcha)
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To: farmfriend
BTTT!!!!!!
20 posted on 03/10/2004 3:08:17 AM PST by E.G.C.
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To: CedarDave
A Few Facts About Otero Mesa And Oil & Gas Development
Independent Petroleum Association of New Mexico

· Of the 1.2 million acres in the BLM’s Otero Mesa plan, approximately 100,000 acres (less than one-tenth) are grassland. The remaining 1.1 million acres are comprised of various types of terrain—mostly desert landscape commonly seen in southern NM, west Texas, and Arizona.

· Under the BLM’s plan, only 5% of the 100,000-acre grassland would be open to development at any given time. This is a landmark concession to conservation activists who don’t want any development on the mesa. It marks the first time that the BLM has ever implemented a 5% surface disturbance requirement. This Otero Mesa plan sets a dangerous precedent that could have a long-term impact on how oil and natural gas companies to do business.

· Otero Mesa will not be “destroyed” by oil and natural gas production. State and federal authorities closely regulate all petroleum production activities. Regular inspections are performed by both state and federal regulators to make sure all requirements are being followed.

· Oil and natural gas exploration on Otero Mesa (or anywhere else) will not contaminate the groundwater. The industry has been safely extracting petroleum products for a century and newer technologies ensure careful preservation of our natural resources. For example, tens of thousands of oil and natural gas wells operate above the Ogalala aquifer, which is the nation’s largest underground fresh water reserve. The Ogalala aquifer stretches for hundreds of square miles beneath Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, and New Mexico. Millions of people get their drinking water from the Ogalala every day.

· In the process of conducting a “wilderness review” the BLM determined that Otero Mesa is robust land that exists in a harsh environment. The BLM determined it is not “fragile” and therefore should not be classified as a wilderness area.

· The McGregor Bombing Range—comprising 606,000 acres—sits adjacent to Otero Mesa. The not-so-quiet range is managed jointly by the BLM and the Ft. Bliss training complex.

· Production of oil and natural gas does disturb the surface temporarily. However, once drilling operations have concluded, the site is “reclaimed”, which means returned to its natural state. In many cases well sites naturally reclaim themselves while the well is still in operation.

· When oil and natural gas companies buy mineral leases, they own the right to extract those minerals. Therefore, they are simply exercising their private property rights—a concept fundamental to American liberty. In the case of Otero Mesa, these private property rights are being greatly restricted, if not denied.

· Otero Mesa is designated as “multiple use”—which means the land is capable of handling many activities including oil and natural gas production, ranching, and recreation.

· Obstructionists are fond of calling Otero Mesa “pristine”. That’s an interesting description considering approximately 100 wells have already been drilled in the planning area established in the BLM’s Resource Management Plan. The anti-drilling lobby has made our point for us. We can drill for petroleum and protect the environment. We do it every day. Interestingly, Otero Mesa sits adjacent to the McGregor Bombing Range.

· More than 600,000 state acres will be impacted in the federal BLM plan, which restricts the ability of oil and gas companies to do business. What this means to New Mexico is fewer tax dollars. The sacrifice in lost tax dollars is difficult to quantify, but could be in many millions of dollars.

· The United States imports 60% of its oil from foreign sources, mostly from the Middle East. Restricting domestic production makes us even more reliant on nations and cultures that hate America and its values.

· Without oil and natural gas, the modern world would come to a screeching halt. Every aspect of our daily lives is completely dependent on petroleum products. Wood, glass, steel, plastics, paper, rubber, clean water, plentiful food, heating, cooling, transportation and all other necessities for modern living are simply not possible without petroleum products.

· Conservation activists describe hydrocarbons (products derived from the production of oil and natural gas) as “dirty” and “harmful to the environment.” But just imagine what your world would be like without some of the modern necessities for our own health that we take for granted every. Here are just a few of the things that could not exist without “harmful” petrochemicals.
o All medications, healthcare machines and modern hospitals
o garbage trucks to remove refuse and heavy equipment to dispose of it
o sewage systems that stretch from your home to a treatment facility
o filtering systems for every kind
o household and industrial cleaning products
o deodorant, lipstick, makeup

21 posted on 03/10/2004 11:26:14 AM PST by BOBTHENAILER (One by one, in small groups or in whole armies, we don't care how we do, but we're gonna getcha)
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