The Aquifer when fracked

The Aquifer when fracked

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Comments ON Sandridge Application by Michael Neas

These comments are for the Record on the Feb 18th Board of County Commission Meeting.

Tues, February 9, 2016
SUBJECT: ZNCH‐15‐003 “Zone Map Amendment”
Written comments by Michael Neas
SandRidge requests a Special Use “Zone Map Amendment” which would allow an oil and or gas fracking well. Fracking is a petroleum production process with numerous potential public and environmental safety hazards. These hazards have the potential to negatively impact all biological life for miles around and for generations to come. One purpose of all applicable Sandoval County Ordinances and the Rio Rancho Extraterritorial Zone is the safety, and general welfare of area residents. SandRidge has not met nor even attempted to meet the requirements of the statutes, ordinances, area plans and municipal codes in place. And because of this inadequate and superficial attempt to bypass the intent of the rules in place, the County Commission shall not approve the SandRidge application.

Quality water, in adequate quantities is of great importance and concern to all residents who rely on the Albuquerque Basin. The Albuquerque Basin supplies water to more than one million people. Those people are the area residents that must be considered when granting a Special Use for oil and gas exploration and production.

Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance ­ Document #2010028894 (PDF)

A. Intent
. This zone district accommodates developments that require special consideration because of their magnitude, unusual nature, infrequent operations, questionable impact on surrounding property, or other similar reason. The boundaries of this district shall be determined on a case‐by‐case basis following amendment procedures provided in Section 19 of this Ordinance. Special conditions may be imposed by the County Board following recommendation by the Zoning Commission. The County Board may not grant a Zone Map Amendment for establishment of a Special Use District unless satisfactory provisions have been made:
1. To assure that compatibility of property uses shall be maintained in the general area;
2. To preserve the integrity and character of the area in which the Special Use District will be located, and the utility and value of property in the Special Use District and in adjacent zone districts; and
3. To assure that the Special Use District will not become detrimental to the public health, safety, or general welfare of the County.
4. To assure that the Special Use District will not conflict with the Sandoval County Comprehensive Plan or any other applicable land use plans adopted by the County.

Sandoval County has not received adequate information from SandRidge. SandRidge proposes to drill in an Active Fault Zone. SandRidge has made no attempt to convince anyone that a two mile long, 18” wide hollow concrete and steel cylinder could stand up to any seismic activity that SandRidge’s own fracking processes might set off. Rio Rancho has expressed this concern and others that SandRige has refused to address. SandRidge proposes to drill in a Water Conservation Area. On Dec. 10, 2015, they falsely stated that they had a water agreement with Rio Rancho for their exploration and production processes. In any case this water would at least in part come from the same Water Conservation Area and the waters removal from the natural water cycle of the area and the state would be and is contrary to the intent of the Rio Rancho Estates Area Plan.

SandRidge has made no attempt to address the traffic impact concerns that hundreds of vehicle trips place on the public. Is the public expected to rely on SandRidge to place the public’s health, safety and welfare first, without proper provisions in the form of writing. Many of these vehicles will be transporting toxic waste through populated areas and disposing this waste elsewhere in Sandoval County. SandRidge has a recent history of ignoring public sentiment and governmental requirements. SandRidge has made no references to any special needs Sandoval County or Rio Rancho might have in order to prepare for and or repair in the case of any possible catastrophic eventuality. These are the intended provisions of a SPECIAL USE DISTRICT that must be in the form of documentation.

Lacking an Oil and Gas Ordinance, Sandoval County must rely on the requirements of the statutes, ordinances, area plans and municipal codes in place to determine the merit of the SandRidge application. SandRidge must comply with, and supply the required information and with such certainty as to satisfy the intent of those rules.

The County also must comply with the specifications and the intent of the statutes, ordinances, area plans and municipal codes in place. To date the Planning and Zoning Commission has not prepared and submitted a recommendation to the County Commission which includes any of their own suggestions to the County Commission. Instead I am told that the County Commission will receive the same Staff Report as the P and Z Commission relied on. But the staff recommendation is not exactly equal to a P and Z Commissioners perspective and should at least be modified to reflect the reasons of a unanimous vote to accept staff’s recommendation to deny the SandRidge application.
The P and Z Commissioners themselves have valued opinions and input which are missing in the Staff Report. Staff changed their recommendation in two separate reports, possibly because of public outcry and input. The P and Z Commissioners themselves may also have important comment which is different from a staff report that was written prior to the second P and Z Commission meeting on this Zone Map Amendment. The overwhelming desire of some 500 people at two separate P and Z Commission meetings, was for a moratorium on oil and gas exploration and production within 10 miles of the Albuquerque Basin and the Santa Fe Group Aquifer in order to write and hopefully adopt a comprehensive Oil and Gas Ordinance. This is not contained in the Staff Report. The exclusion of these important recommendation causes the public to have to reiterate to the County Commisson and squander precious time.

The County Board shall not approve the Zone Map Amendment for the reasons in bold print below.
  • Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance SECTION 19. AMENDMENTS.
  • F. Zone Map Amendment Guidelines. The County Board shall not approve a Zone Map Amendment unless satisfactory provision has been made concerning the following, where applicable.
  • 1. Accessibility to property and existing or proposed structures thereon, with particular reference to automobile and pedestrian safety, traffic control, and emergency access in case of fire, flood or catastrophe;
  • 2. Off‐street parking and loading areas where required, with particular attention to the refuse and service areas;
  • 3. Water and liquid waste facilities, with reference to soil limitations, locations, and public health.
  • 4. The economic, noise, glare, or odor effects of the conditional amendment on adjoining properties; 5. The general compatibility of the proposed amendment with actual or prospective permissive zoning use of adjacent properties;
  • 6. The overall health and safety of the community; and,
  • 7. Conformance to the Sandoval County Comprehensive Plan and other applicable land use plans adopted by the County.
  • 8. The applicant has had a pre‐application public meeting where he has invited property owners, occupants, and county staff affected by the proposed amendment when the amendment involves: (a). creation of a Special Use (S‐P) District;
  • (b). creation of a Master Planned (M‐P) District; or
  • (c). change of an urban residential zone to any other classification.
  • No Pre Application Public Meeting was held.

Additional areas of concern are as follows;

  • Extraterritorial Zones are established by New Mexico Statute 3‐19‐5 (19. Planning and Platting, 3‐19‐1 through 3‐ 19‐12. and 3‐20‐5 ( 20. Subdivisions; Planning and Platting, 3‐20‐1 through 3‐20‐16.) pertaining to Municipalities.
  • A municipality having a population fewer than two hundred thousand people and greater than twenty five thousand people and located in a class A County has jurisdiction over subdivision, which includes all territory within five miles of the boundary of the municipality. Each municipality shall have planning and platting jurisdiction within its municipality and all territory within five miles of its boundary.
  • The City of Rio Rancho had a population of roughly ninety four thousand people in 2014. Rio Rancho has adopted its own Municipal Code: which includes Section 155.03 JURISDICTION. These regulations are designed to accomplish the procedures for the processing, consideration and filing of plats lying within the corporate boundaries of the city and/or within a radius of five miles from the city planning and platting jurisdiction pursuant to NMSA §§ 3‐19‐5 and 3‐20‐5. No subdivision of any land shall hereinafter be effected within the city area of jurisdiction except in accordance with the provisions of these regulations.page3image23216 page3image23376  page3image23856 page3image24016 page3image24176
  • 155.04 PURPOSE.
  • These regulations are intended to create orderly, harmonious and economically sound development of land in order to establish conditions favorable to the health, safety, convenience and general welfare of citizens of the city and its area of jurisdiction. More specifically, provisions of these regulations are designed to achieve adequate provision for light and air, public open spaces, water supply, drainage, sanitation including sewer facilities; economy in governmental expenditures and efficiency in governmental operations; safe convenient circulation of people, goods and vehicles; accurate and complete surveying and preparation and recording of plats thereof; safety and suitability of land for contemplated development; and coordination of land development in accordance with orderly physical patterns as stated in official plans, policies and ordinances and codes in furtherance of plans and policies as may have been and may be hereafter adopted by the city.
  • (A) (1) Submission.
  • (a) All proposed subdivisions, replats or plat vacations shall comply with the requirements of these regulations.

The RREAP allows for light industrial/assembly in designated areas. Oil and gas exploration and production is a heavy industry which uses exorbitant amounts of water. Water issues are a part of the health, safety and welfare of the entire Albuquerque Basin. Contamination and depletion do not know city and county boundaries. And if a producible quantity of oil or gas is found there could be far more than this single well. The entire community is much larger that the few properties surrounding a well site. As explained this potentially affected community includes possibly a million people. The Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority (ABCWUA) services over 600,000 users and the ABCWUA boundary is approximately 5 miles from the proposed fracking site.
Water concerns for the Albuquerque Basin water users include potential contamination of the aquifer itself and depletion of the aquifer. This depletion is multiplied with each well drilled. Depletion and contamination could have consequences on communities other than Rio Rancho and outside of Sandoval County. The ABCWUA has not been commented regarding the water aspects and Rio Rancho’s concerns and comments have not been addressed.

The SandRidge fracking water or toxic waste would be trucked on public roads to a disposal site near La Jara, in Sandoval County. SandRidge has not specified trucking routes, permit requirements, number of truck loads, size of trucks, times of day and much more. SandRidge has also not disclosed what chemicals will be included in the fracking waste water, how it will be disposed, how deep, etc., and all of the same issues and concerns might apply to that area of Sandoval County as well.

This document is intended to address many aspects of the SandRidge application that may need to be revisited should an appeal result. 

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