The Aquifer when fracked

The Aquifer when fracked

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Update on Sandoval County Oil and Gas Ordinance Timeline

Bill Diven- Photo Credit
According to Bill Diven’s Sandoval Signpost article, “Heil’s amendment on November 16th, which passed 4-1, would make such development a conditional use in areas already designated in the Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance as community districts and overlay zones. Those 11 areas already have extra and varying zoning protections and include most of Placitas plus Algodones, Rio Rancho Estates, La Cueva, and the Jemez Valley corridor including San Ysidro.”

But NOT all Community Districts Overlays will have the same zoning. For example, Rio Rancho Estates has a permissive use zone in the overlays districts so there would be no changes to protections of the Municipal Drinking water wells that over 100,000 people rely upon. While many Environmental groups advocate for Equal protection the only overlay districts we can find that will get a public notice and a public hearing is Placitas, at the Dec 6th, East Mountains community meeting, Commissioner Holden-Rhodes mentioned "Exclusion Zones" meaning the community district overlays as a way to Exclude certain activities. As it now stands this is unequal protection. These can be found in the Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance.

Under conditional use, a drilling applicant would need to meet the same requirements for a permit, but instead of the zoning director making the decision, approval would be up to the Planning and Zoning Commission after a public hearing. Permissive use does NOT require that process, and the County no longer has a special-use zoning permit in the Comprehensive Zoning Plan. It is only under a Special-Use permit that the County has the authority to reject a permit. As long as certain conditions are met - in an administrative procedure, they cannot disallow the permit application. Bernalillo County has this copy to help the general public understanding permitting. 

On December 14th, 2017, commissioners - during their one meeting for the month, are expected to vote on publishing the ordinance. That triggers a 15-day public notice period… making the January 4th, 2018, meeting the earliest commissioners could take action on the ordinance itself.
As of Sept 21th, 2017, the County adopts the Oil and Gas 9-page ordinance.

County Pulls a Bait and Switch on Citizens’ Input Process on Ordinance                                          This ordinance lacks adequate protections for water, air, and public safety. Many issues are not addressed.

Commissioner James Holden-Rhodes of Placitas attempted to table the ordinance until New Mexico Tech can finish its assessment of oil and gas resources relative to potential sources of groundwater in the county. His motion drew raucous applause but only one other vote, that from Commissioner Kenneth Eichwald of Cuba, the sole Democrat on the five-member body.

The $62,000 project began in July with the final report not expected until May of 2018. The county has contracted NM Tech as a consultant on developing the zoning ordinance that would apply only to surface issues on private lands outside municipalities.
Our Position Statement on the NM Tech Study

There are two parts to it: 1) primary goal to locate oil and gas resources that can be explored in the county; and 2) assessment of impacts to nearby aquifers. So they are looking at aquifers in a limited way, not like a hydrological assessment would but just in terms of limitations on oil and gas exploration posed by aquifers and geology in general if that makes sense.  It would help to identify areas where oil and gas exploration would pass through aquifers or nearby and the relative depths of aquifers and oil/gas wells in relation to one another is an important factor in whether damage could be caused to water resources and how high that risk is.  Interestingly though there is no mention of surface water supplies which the EPA also mentioned are at just as high, if not a higher risk of contamination from fracking specifically, which tells us that the goal was not to protect water resources but just to account for whether they would impede oil and gas exploration.
In the link above the NM TECH Study and the Staff report on Sandridge permit application under special use. When one reads the staff report we see a 180-degree position change when Commissioner Chapman became chair.
"This study produced: Bulletin-161 — Geology and Hydrology of Groundwater-Fed Springs and Wetlands at La Cienega, Santa Fe County, New Mexico, by Peggy S. Johnson, Daniel J. Koning, Stacy S. Timmons, and Brigitte Felix, 2016, which won the AASG/GSA John C. Frye Memorial Environmental Geology Award for 2016. Santa Fe County — November 29, 2017, The Bureau has been involved in a comprehensive study of the geohydrology of the wetlands in the vicinity of La Cienega, south of Santa Fe, since 2011. These springs and wetlands occur where local groundwater flows intersect the surface. They provide an important source of water for domestic and agricultural use as well as wildlife. The broad goals of the study were to understand the groundwater resources that sustain these wetlands. More specific goals addressed with collaborating agencies included developing strategies to restore springs and wetlands that have already been impacted by local urban development, and to assure the future and sustainability of these important resources. The study revealed a complex, 3-dimensional groundwater system. Groundwater flow from the Santa Fe Group regional aquifer sustains these wetlands. These groundwater flows are susceptible to increased groundwater withdrawals and to seasonal fluctuations, and a majority of the wells in the study have shown a persistent decline in water levels in the last decade. This study has redefined the shallow aquifer in the Santa Fe region and has much broader implications for that part of the state." 

The area in the North Albuquerque Rio Grande basin has a similar geological stratification, with more faults that make it more vulnerable to destroy perched aquifers by fracking. Sandoval County could regulate this water issue as a surface water issue but has failed to ask for the appropriate study.
Geology underlying the county was one recurring theme during the meeting. Speakers focused on the difference between the northwest, which includes part of the San Juan Basin with its history of oil and gas production, and the southeast, which includes part of metro Albuquerque where 800,000 residents rely in large part on groundwater.

While the geology of the northwest is relatively simple, the southeast also includes the Rio Grande Rift, one of the few rift valleys in the world visible on land. Here the earth’s surface is slowly pulling apart fracturing subsurface layers from Colorado into Mexico.

“Not taking into account the geology is a big problem,” said professional geologist William Brown of Placitas. The faulting along the rift increases the potential for drilling into a petroleum-bearing layer on one side of a fault line affecting a water-bearing layer directly opposite on the other side, he said.
“Placitas is the area that probably has the greatest potential for contamination,” Brown told commissioners. “There’s a huge number of faults in the Placitas area. It’s so complex that you can’t go up there and do horizontal fracking.”

Brown recommended dividing the county into zones with more stringent permit requirements including public hearings for sensitive areas.

Another geo-hydrologist working with the Placitas Citizens Group is making rounds to talk with the commissioners. Recently, Commissioner Holden-Rhodes distributed a letter regarding the hydrology and faults within the basin and the implications of earthquakes and strata vulnerability. The most recent earthquake was located in Cochiti Pueblo area. An Earthquake in the area of Cochiti Dam, which is an earthen dam, would be vulnerable to a catastrophic event causing death and destruction of the several pueblos and traditional towns and villages along the Rio Grande. Holden Rhodes sent a letter to the Community regarding his take on the water issues It is abundantly clear from the reports released to the public that drilling in the Rio Grande Basin would impact fault zones and may cause the destruction of perched sub-basin aquifers which Rio Rancho gets its water. In the Ortiz Mountains, East mountains, because of the uplift in geological strata it is equally important not to destroy private property values by destroying the groundwater supply.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

People's Rally OCT 19th 4:15 pm Prior to County meeting UPCOMING EVENTS

People's Rally on 'No Protections ordinance'

Press Conference To Be Held
Come raise your voice!  Let the County Commission hear our dissent for fast-tracking the Ordinance process. the latest, follow the links, read the ordinance, and download the agenda, read the followup that the San Felipe Governor wrote to Sandoval County regarding Chapman's comments of OCT. 5th. Come to the meeting and speak up! This may be the last notification we get before fracking rigs show up!
4:15 PM Prior to County Meeting       Sandoval County Admin Bldg. 3rd Floor Chambers, 1500 Idalia Rd NE, Bernalillo, NM 87004, United States

Community meeting on legal options on Sandoval County Oil and Gas Ordinance 

We need to set the record straight!
We Need the Safety Plan! 


10 am – 12 noon  Saturday

755 Loma Colorado Blvd. NE Rio Rancho, NM 87124

The County Commission approval of the ordinance--Final comments are due now. We a will be posting those dates on our website.
  • There are no water protections.There are no air protections and No public health and safety considerations.
  • The County preempted the National Historic Preservation Act Chapter 106
  • The Ordinance is 9 pages that streamline permits with only best management practices.     DO YOU OWN A WELL?
Citizens Grassroots Group Working to Protect, Water, Air and Public Health and Safety --- Come to the meeting!


Donation Accepted Send to:
907 Nyasa RD SE
Rio Rancho, NM 87124

For TaxExempt Donation Make Checks over $100 to: ACP&J 
Memo line: Common Ground Community Trust 

Smaller Donations gladly accepted 
Please Help us Protect Our Water!

Common Ground Community Trust
A Citizens Grassroots Group just formed the
Protect Our Valley Coalition
Protect our water, air,
health and safety.
A Citizens Advisory Board

Wednesday, Oct 18th Bernalillo Range Cafe 6 pm
Wednesday, Oct 25th Bernalillo Range Cafe 6 pm 

FastTracking Streamline Permitting In Sandoval County Oil and Gas ‘No Protections’ Ordinance

FastTracking Streamline Permitting In Sandoval County Oil and Gas ‘No Protections’ Ordinance

The impacts to the Greater Chaco Canyon cultural landscape are ongoing and being ignored in the consideration of the Sandoval County Oil and Gas Ordinance. The County is failing to protect and serve the Residents in Throwing in the industry that is poisoning environments and people for the profit by a few.
Sandoval County Commissioners are slated to vote on the oil and gas ordinance OCT 19, At 6 pm, Chamber 3rd Floor, 1500 Idalia Rd Bernalillo, NM 87124. However, in a questionable OMA violation at the end of the meeting Oct. 5th, 2017, Commissioner Block entered amendments to the oil and gas ordinance on the record and now has failed to advertise those amendments prior to the meeting and failed to respond appropriately to an IPRA request.
This is what the lack of transparency leads to — tyranny.
After this blatant OMA violation at the end of the October 5th, meeting, during Comments from the COmmission, Commissioner Chapman read into the record a statement regarding the County’s meeting with San Felipe Pueblo Governor and staff. Commissioner Chapman’s statement was refuted by the San Felipe Pueblo, Governor Ortiz, and Lt. Governor Valencia, in a follow-up letter addressing their concerns after viewing the video.  Follow up to Sandoval County Commissioner re Oct 4, 2017 meeting
This does not bode well for the County who is appearing highly discriminatory in their approach and statements regarding their false statements about the Pueblo, ignoring Issues on the lack of enforcement by the State and Federal Government on the Greater Chaco Mesa, ignoring public advisory board in this Ordinance process, with their refusal on adopting a Good Neighbor Notification Districting and Policy. It is obvious that the County Commission does not want to have a conversation with or hear and address the concerns of the Public and Pueblos on this ordinance, or the issues this ordinance brings with it. apcg2017-12 Resolution Protections of Sacred Sites
The County paid $62,000 + to NM Tech for a Water Study that will not be available until May 2018. Instead of waiting for this report, which would set an image in public perceptions of a prudent approach to creating an ordinance with protections in mind. Barreling ahead the County has doubled down with the NMOGA, independent speculators and predator oil industry landsmen in what appears to smack of crony capitalism, not the free market considerations for long-term investment in our communities need. This ordinance is all about short terms gains for a select few, while the County with the other hand works to further hurt the working class with a wage killer Right-to-Work ordinance. NM_Tech_work_order_7-17 work order for NM Tech Modeling Study 571_SC BCC O&G ORD Draft October 2017
Barreling ahead the County has doubled down with the NMOGA, independent speculators and predator oil industry landsmen, in what appears to smack of crony capitalism, not the free market considerations for long-term investment in our communities need. This ordinance is all about short terms gains for a select few, while the County with the other hand works to further hurt the working class with a wage killer, Right-to-Work ordinance.
The lack of transparency, ignoring contractual and fiscal obligations of the MTECH Water Modeling, which was a crucial part of the process, to the insulting behavior shown to the Pueblo and Dine’ leadership without addressing their outstanding issues, the County is negligent in their capacity to govern effectively and needs to come to terms with erroneous behavior. AGENDApacket__10-19-17_1741_81
With the AMREP/outer rim/Sandridge’ Permit, still active the dangers to the Rio Rancho drinking water supply are paramount.

Unannounced Item on Oct 5th County meeting: Oil and Gas Amendments Discussed and Commisioner Chapman’s Statement on San Felipe Pueblo Meeting

During an UNannounced item on the Oct 5th County Commission Meeting Not only did the County appear to Violate the open Meeting act by talking about amendments to the oil and gas ordinance, The Commissioner goes on to misrepresent the Tribal nation of San Felipe Pueblo. See the previous post for Governor Ortiz and the Lt Governor's Letter. Here is the Video Clip of the what happened last time. 
The County Commissioners are scheduled to vote to approve the Sandoval Oil and Gas Ordinance Oct 19 6 p,m Chambers 3rd Floor 1500 Idalia Rd Bernalillo 87004
people's Rally starts at 4:15 pm with a press conference.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Active Oil/Gas Permit for Thrust Energy/AMREP Drilling Starts With Approval of Ordinance

Active Oil/Gas Permit for
Thrust Energy/AMREP
Drilling Starts With
Approval of Ordinance 

30-043-21278 ROADRUNNER 03 1201 #001 [315649]
Sandridge Permit still valid for 40 acres expires 11.10.17

Active permits with p
Stake showing Well Pad Rio rancho Estates ermissive use with no Public notification means Mike Springfield, planning director would rubberstamp county application permit without notification. 1 well per acres or up to 6 wells per 5 acres (This is the NMOCD allowance in NW Sandoval in the Chaco Mesa Area), means 40-150+ oil and gas wells over the aquifer and the City Rio Rancho drinking water supply to over 100,000 people including private water wells. 1.8 million gallons per are used in fracking one oil and gas well.

This will potentially impact the Rio Grande and ABQ basin through over-pumping. The leak rate is 16% of all wells drilled for contamination equals 8-32 wells will leak. The above info on leaks was read/entered into the record at the last commission meeting by Alan Friedman (ESCA).

There are a couple of people who think that they can keep asking for amendments to the draft, they should be supported. It is hoped that they can get "special use permitting" it would be better, but unfortunately, not qualitatively or substantially for the overall ordinance, The draft would need to be republished after any amendment.

We are better off without an ordinance than to have this one.

ARTICLE III. ZONING ORDINANCE AMENDMENT. Section 3.1. Amending Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance. A. The Sandoval County Board of County Commissioners hereby amends Ordinance No. 10-11-18.7A, Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance of Sandoval County, to establish Oil and Gas exploration and production, and the structures and facilities associated with that use, as a Permissive use within Section 9 (1). RRA – Rural Residential Agricultural District, and to remove this use from Section 10. SU – Special Use District.
What does this mean? In plain English, making oil and gas development a "Permissive use" means that applications to drill IN ANY RURAL AREA with that zoning will be rubberstamped & allowed to proceed with no public notice. You won't know an oil well is going to be drilled next to your home, your child's school, in your fields, or through your aquifer, until the rigs show up. This is what the Sandoval County Commissioners want for their community.

Our coalition thinks differently because Thrust Energy will bring Sandridge / or WPX to drill these wells in the next couple of months unless we can stop this train wreck.

The next meeting is Oct 19th Come to the meeting We will send update announcement on time date and location We are asking them to change the venue to allow for all comment. 

PROCESS GOING FORWARD: What To Expect, what happens now

The county will publish the draft ordinance for comment then hold ONLY one more meeting to approve the ordinance.  As long as the Ordinance is not amended It will be published one more time and then becomes law within 30 days. If amended they have to republish it and then hold another Final hearing. Since they are in rush to do push this through we do not think they are going to amend unless they can be convinced of liability legal threats. The County is more concerned with the O&G industry suing than with the public.We are exploring our legal options, please expect an announcement soon. 

Write emails and call the Office of the Attorney General 
What can you do? The "Stoddard Ordinance", quoted above, is an Oil & Gas Ordinance that will be voted on by the Sandoval County Commission as early as October 19th. The entire process has been fraught with controversy, and the ordinance as it stands now will do nothing to protect the health & safety of the citizens or our aquifers. The County has repeatedly failed to follow its own procedures for citizen input. Call the NM Attorney General and ask him to expedite the four Open Meeting Act violation complaints that have been filed with his office. 505.717.3500.   ABQ consumer Complaint Number 

Ask the County to hold a meeting in a larger forum so that people can enter their comments into the record. A public hearing is about creating a record and they must understand the irreparable harm they will do.  Be kind but firm when speaking to whomever answers.
Call 505 867-7538 and email county commission ask:
Maria Encinas <> the County manager’s Secretary
dmaes@sandovalcountynm.govCounty manager

once we know venue we will send an announcement 

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Sandoval County Planning and Zoning Commissioner John Arango Resigns Over County Commission Oil and Gas Ordinance Approval

Ordinance approved to publish at Thursday’s Commission meeting would allow drilling without public notice or groundwater monitoring with many other concerns ignored

Rio Rancho, NM – Confirmed, John Arango has resigned as Planning and Zoning Commission Chairman over the actions of County Commission Chair Don Chapman and Planning Director Mike Springfield at the September 21st evening meeting. The 9-page ordinance was approved to publish with inadequate considerations for the public interest and welfare. Arango’s 8-page memorandum of September 14th indicates, concerns were about permissive use, no public hearing, inadequate notification process and no protections for water and air or other issues brought forward by the citizens on this ordinance.

The Planning and Zoning Commissioner John Arango stated at the September PZ meeting that he would vote to send the current draft of the ordinance forward along with a memorandum on the suggestions, which was agreed to by PZ Commissioners Stoddard and Brown, but voted down by Commissioners Herrera and Maduena because the ordinance did not address the issue of the citizens. The ordinance was to go for discussion before the County Commission, and later Arango stated that he was pressured by Chapman to send it back to him immediately.

The agenda and county staff report for the advertised meeting did not include the memoranda that were written by the PZ Chairman and the Planning and Zoning Director that were sent to the Commission. Commissioner Arango’s memorandum was given to the Citizens groups’ a few hours prior to the meeting. The public was not aware of Mike Springfield’s memo in which he refuted the public concerns’ until Chapman read Springfield’s memo that stated, “the public ‘s concerns were not important enough...”
Commissioner Chapman read Mike Springfield’s memo and ignored PZ Commissioner Arango’s concerns on what was lacking in the ordinance. Springfield’s memo of September 15th written 7 days prior to the meeting was not included in the staff report or advertisement for the meeting. Springfield stated at the meeting that, “staff recommendation is to approve the ordinance.” During Chapman’s statement, he eludes to Arango’s memorandum yet fails to read it verbatim into the record as he did Springfield’s memo. 

The ordinance will only allow ‘permissive use’ and would give Mike Springfield sole authority to rubberstamp without notice or public hearing to streamline permit applications. The NMEMRD Secretary McQueen on May 12, 2017, County Work Session, requested the streamlined process. This ordinance opens 267,00 private land acres to mineral leasing with a possible 15,000+ oil and gas well operations.

Over 80 citizens were locked out of the meeting at 5:40 pm and funneled into a room with only inadequate phonetic spelled captions and no sound to follow along. Chapman appears to have purposely broken up citizen’s public input, as they never shut out citizens prior to this meeting and failed to hold the meeting to accommodate the large numbers that they anticipated. However, oil and gas industry representatives were given reserved seating and allowed in after the doors were shut to the public.

“Sandoval County Citizens and Common Ground Community Trust advocates for a strong protective ordinance. The Commission continues to justify their disingenuous insulting retaliatory misleading actions to the public, by labeling those against this travesty of an ordinance, as “anti-Ordinancer’s,” stated Common Ground Rising Coalition. “The citizens of this County deserve a transparent, democratic process for a strong protective ordinance like the people of Santa Fe and San Miguel Counties. Citizens input was shut out, while county working with industry ran rough shot over the will of the people with a no regulation ordinance.”

Thursday, September 14, 2017

County to Vote on O&G 'NO Protections' Ordinance

Elaine Cimino's photo.
Change Photo or Video

County to Vote on O&G 'NO Protections' Ordinance

September 21 there is a public hearing on the motion to publish the ordinance 
 6 PM Sandoval County Admin Building 3rd floor 1500 Idalia Rd SE. Bernalillo. NM 87004 

  • There are no water protections. The word aquifer is not in the text.
  • There are no air protections and No public health and safety considerations.
  • The County preempted the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) Chapter 106 -Tribal Consultation. They were erroneously told they did not have to follow the federal law.
  • There is a statement in the SOP for tribal "Notification" to drill within three miles of reservation borders only. This is a 'Notification' not Tribal Consultation.  attending a powwow is not 'tribal consultation.' as was mentioned in a previous county meeting.
  • County Commissioners stated that they would have a public hearing at Santo Domingo/Kewa Pueblo, then they preempted NHPA and made no further attempt before publishing the ordinance. THEY LIED to the TRIBES TO THEIR FACE on the record.
  • The ordinance is 9-pages and streamlines permits with only best management practices.this will make the shortest and worst ordinance in the State of NM and will hold the county liable.
  • No Emergency Safety Response plan --IPRA Request and Determination letter from OAG finds the County breaks the law. 
  • No risk assessments on Property Tax Valuation Impacts on property valuation after oil and gas impacts.
  • No baseline studies
  • No presentations from geohydrologists or any of our other professionals
  • Has heard disproportionately the presentations from the industry.
  • Refuse Physicians For Social Responsibility to present Peer studies on health impacts.
  • County has refused to consider Santa Fe ordinance or San Miguel ordinance that offers more land use and environmental protections and preempts Sandoval County as retaliation for requesting a moratorium.
  • Basically, this ordinance is a “Notice of intent to drill’ with changing conditional use permits for oil and gas drilling. Some residents had no options for public hearings for neighbors in certain areas of the County. 
  • This includes at present for RIO Rancho Estates Residents,  areas under conditional use permits there are NO options for public hearings this also includes most of the county that will be hand stamped by the Mike Springfield planning director and industry hack.

Update on P&Z Actions 
On September 12th the P&Z voted 3-2 to recommend the O&G  Draft 3 ordinance that streamlines the permitting process without a public hearing to most of the County residents.  Despite a brilliant attempt and hard work of a citizens study group on writing insertions for a Citizens' ordinance draft. These men and women gave the County the opportunity to do the right thing and protect the citizens from the disparate impacts of siting 15,000 + oil and gas wells in Sandoval County. 
Mary Feldblum and Alan Friedman did an excellent presentation on the ordinance, while it still won't give the protections needed, what they offered was a compromise, the P&Z Thumbed their noses which were expected and then totally overlooked the insertions.  the Citizens Study group were thrown bones on noise and notifications in a memo to the County Commission. These idiots couldn't even draft one word of the language and ignored the rest of the 26 pages. 
An interesting observation was that most of the language the Citizen Ordinance used was what the planning staff had written in the second Draft.  This was before Stoddard trotted in to present the oil and gas industry's draft and then called it his own. 
We will be posting the video of the meeting on our website 
The ordinance now goes to the County Commission on September 21st for a motion to publish and to hold one last public hearing. We should push for the protections needed in the Santa Fe Ordinance, a moratorium to do these studies and baseline measurements and show up by the hundreds to the next meeting. Still, they would not extend the process to 30 days everything stayed at 10-days just as the state dictated to the Commission on May 12. 
The P&Z Commissioners Keith Brown and John Arango sold out the water for the Rio Grande by ignoring the possible insertions as provided by the study group with their vote. Despite asking some good questions, Arango and Brown gave people false hope that they actually were going to protect water resources in our region. They were a bitter disappoint for citizen's governance in the County, as is the County Commission in this entire process. 
"The county commissioners by voting for this ordinance is turning our region into the National Sacrifice Zone."  They are all talk and no walk. Furthermore, they have to cheat us to beat us! 
Eichewald's commissioner was absent two times in a row without calling in to vote and one commissioner resigned. They never bothered to replace them making sure there were not the votes to hold up the ordinance. 

So what can you do? COME TO THE MEETING
September 21 there is a public hearing on the motion to publish the ordinance  6 PM Sandoval County Admin building 3rd floor 1500 Idalia Rd SE. Bernalillo. NM 87004 

For more information