Skip to comments.An Open Letter to Senators Pete Domenici (R) & Jeff Bingaman(D)
Posted on 09/14/2005 7:08:04 AM PDT by BOBTHENAILER
This letter is written in extreme opposition to the recently proposed regulations by the New Mexico Oil Conservation Division. A little historical background is needed to prove this opposition is correct. The background follows:
The current Energy Crisis facing all Americans has roots going back at least 30 years (lack of newly built refineries), but this letter will dwell mainly on recent events, regulations, court cases, lack of legislative fortitude, and most particularly the apparent merging of philosophies between extreme environmental mega-organizations such as the Sierra Club & Natural Resources Defense council, et al and State and Federal Regulatory bodies governing oil and gas development, coal mining, natural parks and forests and wetlands. This letter will show the disastrous consequences of that philosophical merging of environmental policy with State and Federal regulatory bodies.
Everybody knows that there has been no new refinery construction for 30 years, thus the current shortage of refined gasoline. Primary among detrimental factors leading to no new construction are the myriad State and Federal regulations regarding same in addition to hand in glove environmental opposition. We reap what we sow.
During the Clinton Administration over 6 million acres of Federal lands were placed off limits to road construction, logging, thinning, brush clearing, mining and oil and gas activity. Tragically, since the year 2000 over 8 million acres have been completely devastated by fire (mostly the 6 million set aside) in Washington, Oregon, Montana, Utah, Colorado, California, Wyoming and New Mexico. Over 100 lives were lost, hundreds of homes, phenomenal amounts of varied wildlife species, not to mention the habitats of such sacred cows as the Spotted Owl, red-legged frog, lynx, cougar, and numerous endangered fish when their streams were fowled with the resulting erosional run-off. We reap what we sow.
The Grand Escalante Staircase National Monument around Kanab Utah was created by surprise Executive Order in 1996 by President Clinton. Located within the borders of the Monument is one of the nations largest untapped reserves of low sulfur coal valued by Utah geologists in 1997 at about $300 billion. When it comes to clean-burning properties, that coal is rivaled only by mines found in Indonesia. This move was shocking enough that it caused several local Sierra Club members and BLM officials to resign and join local grass roots resistance organizations. Not only coal mining was lost, but road access, logging and other mineral extraction. It is estimated that the coal under the monument would provide power to several western states for many years. We reap what we sow.
The Powder River Basin in Wyoming and Montana is estimated to contain enough coal bed methane natural gas to supply Californias needs for 25 years. While Wyomings regulatory oil and gas bodies have done a credible job, but not without a huge fight against environmentalists in allowing thousands of wells to be drilled, the other half of the Basin in Montana contains only about 150 wells. The rest of the development in Montana has been blocked by Environmental Lawsuits filed by the usual suspects included the fully funded local subsidiaries Grass roots organizations with typical names like Friends of the Montana Range Lands or similar folksy names. California will reap what Montana sows. Remember California natural gas prices in the winter of 2000?
In the 1970s the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Lake Pontchartrain and Vicinity Hurricane Barrier Project planned to build fortifications and floodgates at two strategic locations, which would keep massive storms in the Gulf of Mexico from causing Lake Pontchartrain to flood the city. The floodgates would have blocked the flow of water from the Gulf, through Lake Borgne, through the Rigolets (and Chet Mentuer) into Lake Pontchartrain, declared Professor Gregory Stone, the James P. Morgan distinguished Professor and Director of the Coastal Studies Institute of Louisiana State University. This likely would have stopped the storm surge coming from the Gulf into Lake Pontchartrain, Professor Stone said during an interview September 6. The professor concluded, These floodgates would have alleviated the flooding of New Orleans caused by Katrina. They were designed to withstand a Category 5 hurricane. Needless to say, those plans were abandoned after environmental advocates successfully sued to have it stopped. Specifically, in 1977, a state environmentalist group known as Save Our Wetlands sued to have it stopped. This effort at protection continued for a number of times in the ensuing years, as recently as 2004, and every time was opposed by environmentalists. Perhaps if the floodgates had been constructed the following refineries flooded out would still be producing gasoline: Valero in Norco, LA (225,000 bbl./day), Murphy Oil in Meraux, LA (120,000 bbl./day), Exxon Mobil in Chalmette, LA (183,000 bbl/day), Conoco Phillips in Belle Chase, LA (255,000 bbl/day), Marathon in Garyville, LA (245,000 bbl/day), Chevron in Pascagoula, Mississippi (325,000 bbl/day) for a total down of 1,605,000 barrels gasoline, jet fuel and related products per day. While not all of the refineries listed are down because of flooding, it graphically points out the necessity of building more refineries at locations scattered throughout the US in order to avoid a disastrous destruction of refining capacity due to being geographically clustered. If anyone thinks Al Qaeda didnt notice this severe disruption, they are crazy. No more environmental opposition or NIMBY attitude needed when it comes to new refinery construction. It is vital both economically and strategically to protect our economy from natural disasters and terrorist attacks.
All of the above brings me to the State of New Mexico, its attitude toward oil and gas and its newly proposed regulations.
The controversy of the pristine Otero Mesa Grasslands first comes to mind. The environmental opposition is astonishing, given the character of the terrain. The restricted drilling being proposed will not cause irreparable damage and if estimates of reserves are even half true, it is energy we sorely need now. I find it interesting that several environmental articles I have read said we dont need the gas in Otero. Fine, lets take Senator Bingamans deep desire and that of the environmentalists and install 400 wind turbines throughout the windy Otero Mesa. It would provide free energy, jobs to locals who could collect the raptor and migratory bird carcasses and the footprint would surely be no greater than a five foot high gas well head. A little humorous digression, I apologize. The bottom line is this, when our nation needs energy most, the Federal, State and Environmental organizations seem to march in lock step to impede industrys efforts to get it.
I wonder where all the enviros were when noted environmentalist Ted Turner renegotiated his lease with Shell to further develop his beautiful Vermejo Park Ranch. Turners Vermejo Park Ranch, about ¾ of the size of Rhode Island, is rich with billions of dollars in coal and methane reserves. Natural gas prices have more than quadrupled in the past two years making Turners land a richer gold mine than his media holdings once were. Turner recently signed a deal to double the number of gas wells on his scenic wilderness to 1060. The agreement doubles his royalty to 6.5% with El Paso, who owns the mineral rights. Elsewhere in the Raton Basin, opposition to drilling comes from conservation groups such as the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership (TRCP), who, by the way, gets major funding from the Ted Turner Foundation. Its leader, conservation lawyer Jim Range, doesnt see a conflict because he says Turner runs his drilling operations in a clean ecologically sound manner. Gee, here I thought El Paso was the Operator. Its a model of the way exploration should be done, Range says.
Okay, if thats the case, why not Otero Mesa, coal bed methane in Montana, coal extraction from Grand Escalante, numerous other contested areas, but especially ANWR!!! 1060 wells at approximately 1 acre per pad, not counting roads and pipelines. Is exactly ½ of the proposed drilling area of ANWR for 1/1000 of the amount of product. Who says money cant buy love.
This last section will deal with my major point of this letter. Currently, there are numerous regulations changes and additions to New Mexico OCD regulations. After reading the new proposals I can only conclude that New Mexico OCD is following the lead of the Michigan sister organization (DNR) where I live. Ive been involved in the Northern Michigan Antrim Shale play for well over 15 years. New rules and regulations, similar to those proposed in New Mexico have done the following: a. increased the average cost of completed Antrim well from $175,000 to $250,000 plus, b. slowed down the permitting process from a mandatory 30 days to up to 180 days currently, c. slowed down the ability to quickly get fields online, all of which is extremely detrimental to consumers.
For you Otero Mesa paranoids, you can drive from Traverse City to Alpena, right through the heart of the Antrim fairway (lake to lake) and see no more than 10 wells of 8000 plus and 2 or 3 Central Production facilities of hundreds. Those 8000 wells have been developed as environmentally good as Ted Turner would.
The idea that in the days of $65 crude oil, $10-12 per mcf natural gas, gasoline at or above $3.00 per gallon, that more onerous regulations are needed is ludicrous. It reminds me of Zimbabwe turning away 7 million tons of US grain because European pressure due to the grain being hybrid bio-engineered. That makes a lot of sense, starve millions of your people over a bogus environmental principle.
I implore the members of the New Mexico OCD, New Mexico government officials who can affect these changes, New Mexico Representatives and Senators, both State and Federal and citizens of New Mexico, not to throw gasoline on an Energy Crisis Fire, by enacting these new regulations. The current regulations in effect today are more than sufficient to solve all the problems that may occur during normal drilling and completions operations. Any problems occurring outside the normal regs are no more than unintentional human error which no amount of regulations would stop from occurring.
It should be noted that I have only used a fraction of examples of the hurdles my industry faces. When voting time comes, look at your gas bills, look at your home heating bills and watch for the rise in price in all petroleum by-products (too numerous to mention here), then elect those who will help the oil and gas industry to correct the coming storm. By the way, wind and solar will not.
Very truly yours,
Works for me ~ Bump!
Reminds me of a LAZ post from a few days back regarding how to handle war protesters ouitside a naval base.
Both great solutions.
What a wonderful letter!
Muy kudos to YOU!
Thanks for the ping, Gramps.
It's very good to see you. ;oP
I noticed that you posted the billboard.
I think it would look excellent on BOBTHENAILER'S homepage. ;o)
BTW....got a reply from Heather Wilson, NM (Rep.) Representative, but nothing from Pistol Pete or Bingaman.
Next up are all the State Reps and Sens and especially that fat bastard Richardson.
"...I rely on my IT guy or my secretary to do the hard lifting like putting the billboard on my about page."
Writing letters like this one is the "hard lifting".
Keep the heat on, and keep up the good work!
Thanks again darlin' (don't take offense, I'm southern too), I'll always keep writing letters like this. they're fun.....no heavy lifting at all, just a lot of mean streak venting.
I understand Southernese.
No offense taken. ;o)
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