The Aquifer when fracked

The Aquifer when fracked
Diagram

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

What you need to know about the Sandoval County oil and gas Ordinance


What You Need to Know About Sandoval County’s
Oil and Gas Ordinance

#Common Ground Rising/
Stop Fracking the Rio Grande Valley

For the past 18 months, Sandoval County Commission has been undergoing a process of formulating its oil and gas ordinance. The ordinance was initially pursued in November 2015 when SandRidge Energy Inc., an Oklahoma-based oil and gas company, applied for a special-use permit. Since then, citizens’ groups have organized to give formal comment, input and reports for inclusion in the ordinance to ensure protections from extractive industry impacts--including all surface impacts.

Overview

Ordinance Divides Sandoval County into 2 Regions
  • The current draft divides the county into a Northwest and Southeast region, each with different use protections (4.7 in the draft ordinance).
  • The ordinance establishes energy development zones that do not provide adequate community protections.  

  1. Northwest Sandoval County
Sandoval County has 600 hundred-fracked wells mostly concentrated in the northwest region, also known as the Checkerboard area and part of Greater Chaco.  The Checkerboard area covers multiple jurisdictions of land ownership that includes public, private, state, Indian allotments, and Tribal trust lands.
  • Sandoval County ignores oil and gas impacts affecting residents living in the Checkerboard region--some areas are under the County’s jurisdiction.

Nageezi (18mi. north of Sandoval County)
July 11, 2016 - Nageezi, NM
36 storage tanks exploded at a newly developed fracking site operated by WPX Energy.  Investigations revealed that WPX used aluminum fittings instead of steel on many of its connectors.  One or more shortly gave way leaking gas, which ignited. The fire burned for 5-days. WPX claimed the plume of emissions dissipated quickly. Former WPX vice president Ken McQueen now serves as cabinet secretary of NM Energy, Minerals and Natural Resource Department (NMEMNRD).

2.)    Southeast Sandoval County
The southeast region of the county is more heavily populated than the northwest.
  • Communities in the northwest are disproportionately impacted by oil and gas extraction. The County largely ignores what these communities experience.
  • The County practices environmental racism and has little regard for social justice.

In a Q&A session at the May 12th meeting, public comments were given and ignored.  No attempt was made to modify the draft ordinance before submission to the Planning and Zoning Commission. Division of the County is not needed or wanted. This industry divides communities, families and poses significant health and safety risks.
The County has NO Emergency Response Plan
  • In September 2016, an IPRA (Inspection of Public Records Act) was submitted requesting for the oil and gas company’s Emergency Response Plan that was supposed to be filed with the County.
  • The County refused citing national security reasons. The County is supposed to have a emergency response plan in place.  The Office of the Attorney General (OAG)  found that Sandoval County was in Violation of IPRA. We are filing a lawsuit for that document.  
  • Planning and Zoning Director, Michael Springfield, admitted the County needs time to draft an emergency response plan.  

Where We Are Now - May 12th, Meeting
Photo Credit:Mike Neas

On May 12, 2017 the County released the final Draft Copy of its 32-page “Dead Ordinance”.  This picture shows noticeable size and content differences on oil and gas ordinances from San Miguel (200 pages) and Santa Fe (175 pages) counties on the left, and Sandoval County (32 pages) on the right.

County Pulls a Bait and Switch on Citizens Input Process on Ordinance
The first draft was a work in progress with planning staff and the citizens’ input. Post election resulted in an entirely new and different draft. The document floated as a working draft until May 12th.  

Requests were made by Ken McQueen (NMEMNRD), and New Mexico Oil and Gas Association (NMOGA) director Ryan Flynn to streamline the planning permitting process simultaneously with the state permitting process with intentions to complete it within 10 days. Hundreds of wells can be rubberstamped and approved this way.

       At the May 12th  meeting, the County Commission stated that they had 2 options:
  1. No ordinance, and simply streamline the application process.
  2. Allow this ordinance to go forward and be approved.

This ordinance lacks adequate protections for water, air and public safety. Many issues are not addressed.

















This is what could be 300 ft from your home and school with no comprehensive ordinance.

This picture was taken in Feb 2016 While setbacks can be anything the county wants them to be. Often times the OCD grants waivers on those setback and there are examples that the frack sites can be as close as 300-350 ft. This is what is happening now in Sandoval County without a strong ordinance.

At the May 23 Meeting of the P&Z commission

the Comissioners referred the Citizens who showed up for comments back to County Commission.
The P&Z commissioners were talking with Mike Springfield and they were over heard saying prior to the meeting that the Commission wanted to legitimize the current draft and streamline the 10-day turn around process.

So the fix is in folks. Time to lawyer up! 
What else is our choice when 
we cannot get a fair public hearing.

The P&Z would not listen to everyone who signed up for Public Comments but cherry picked the sign in list and only allowed 45 mins of comments from the public. The Chairman did say that the issue lies with the County Commission. One chairman who was not there used a death in the family for not being at the meeting but when he showed up he said he had just shot a bear on a hunting trip and was sorry he was late. He told the room that was full of environmental advocates. There was no amendments to the procedures at the start of hte meeting. The room was full of people wanting to hear what the P&Z would decide.

Strategy meeting Loma Colorado Library 6 pm auditorium May 24th, 2017



Talking points for the Sandoval County Oil and Gas Ordinance Public Hearing


Many of these issues have been ignored in order to allow for increased revenue to the County and state, impacting taxpayers and minority communities.

  1. The County’s ordinance should include monitoring and enforcements for the following:
  • Pre-drilling air and water quality assessments, including ground and surface water, post-drilling air and water quality assessments, and aquifer protections and monitoring.
  • Post-operation inspections, assessments and proper remediation responses.
    • Monitoring, inspections and enforcement of regulations are left to the state.

  1. Ordinances regulating operator activities are highly inadequate and should include:
  • Oversight of safe waste disposal. Qualifications for determining waste disposal are lacking and should include provisions regarding processes.
    • Direct injection of waste will be allowed on fracking sites.
  • Noise and operational hour requirements.
  • Operator performance verifications.

  1. Ordinances should include criteria for accepting and rejecting oil and gas application permits to drill (APDs).

  1. An Emergency Response Plan does not exist and needs to be filed with the County.
  • Counties have a responsibility and the tools to ensure community safety in the form of zoning rules and ordinances.The ordinance should include public health safeguards/regulations like accident response and cleanup.
  • Inclusion of oil and gas worker safety and accountability, and employee procedures.

  1. Protections for landowners are considerably insufficient.
  • There are no protections for split estate surface landowners. The ordinance states it is solely the responsibility of the landowner to submit concerns at the time of application. Furthermore, value impacts have not been outlined and are left to the Planning & Zoning Commission to determine.
  • The ordinance does not include regulations for additional infrastructure (injection wells, pipelines, compressor stations, waste storage and disposal, etc.) where eminent domain is used.

  1. The public comment process lacks transparency and should allow for adequate public review time.

  • There is no public review process on exploratory well applications.
  • Permit reviewing is so streamlined that permits are allowed to be processed within 10 days and without proper notifications to the public.
  • Adequate neighborhood notifications need to be setup to ensure community concerns are heard.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Sandoval county residents call for comprehensive zoning ordinance

PRess Release For Immediate Release  May 23, 2017
Sandoval County Residents Call for Comprehensive Oil and Gas Ordinance

Greater Chaco Fracking Development Further Threatens Residents


Rio Rancho, NM: Community members, organized as Common Ground Rising, included We Are One River, Power Through Peace, 350.0rg, and the Sierra Club who rallied at Sandoval County Planning and Zoning Commission meeting today, to demand a comprehensive oil and gas ordinance to protect community health, clean air, and water, from threats of fracking development.

“As time passes, this was once native land, but now that land has become all of ours. Now, in the moment of resistance and preservation we continue to fight for what is yours and mine, our resources-Water.” Peaches Blackbird, Power Through Peace.

“With no protections in place, 2500 people in the past 18 months have called on the 5 Sandoval County Commissioners to allow for public input in the development of a county ordinance to manage oil and gas development and we have been ignored.”

“We are looking at 5,500 gas wells in Rio Rancho Estates alone and now they intend to create another Permian basin with 1,000’s more wells in Placitas, Algodonnes, Pena Blanca, La Madera, and Budaghers. It is estimated with the mineral leases that 15,000 + O&G Wells extending from the West Mesa into the East Mountains could be drilled,” stated Elaine CImino Co-director of Common Ground Rising.

Under Governor Martinez, oil and gas companies have racked up more than 3,600 violations for spills and pollution.  99.5% have not been prosecuted or resulted in fines. Her administration was also caught by the Albuquerque Journal issuing drilling permits without safety inspections.  Department heads created a fake inspector to issue those permits and avoided detection for months.

Governor Martinez has taken more than $1,000,000 from oil, gas and energy companies into her campaigns. Last December, Governor Martinez appointed Ken McQueen as cabinet secretary of the New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department. McQueen most recently served as the vice president of WPX Energy. McQueen recently visited Sandoval County and thereafter the Commission signaled that it will not pass an ordinance to protect residents from fracking, but instead would entertain 10-day turn-around permits for fracking.

600 Oil &Gas wells are operating without ordiance in Sandoval County with serious impacts to the environment and health.

Over 400 new fracking wells have already been approved in the Greater Chaco area in the northwestern part of Sandoval County. Navajo Chapters have been vocal opponents of this development and the Navajo Nation and All Pueblo Council of Governors formally requested a moratorium on fracking https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B_0oj2x3l5XuVXhMTkZaOVYweDQ/view

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B_0oj2x3l5XuWjYwVm1hOU93WGM/view until the Bureau of Land Management completes its current planning process for development.

Seeking assurance of public health, air and water safety, Rio Rancho residents are asking Sandoval County Commissioners to develop a comprehensive oil and gas ordinance as fracking development threatens to encroach further south into the county.

“Most of our state laws regulating the oil and gas industry date back to 1935, and do not address new technologies like the combination of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling,” said Mark LeClaire, of We Are One River. “We’re asking County Commissioners to step out of the past and protect our public health, air, and water from irresponsible oil and gas developers.”

County ordinances are drafted by the Planning and Zoning Board whose members are appointed by commissioners. The Board recently released a 32-page draft oil and gas ordinance https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B_0oj2x3l5XuVXhMTkZaOVYweDQ/view to  address community concerns for air and water protection that has been the point of citizen contention.

“Other New Mexico counties have passed strong ordinances to protect local residents from intense oil and gas development,” said Benton Howell Co-Director of Common Ground Rising.  “Santa Fe's oil and gas ordinance is over 175 pages long and the one for San Miguel is over 199 pages. How can community protections be assured in a few inadequate paragraphs drafted by industry representatives?”

The draft oil and gas ordinance is a handout to industry, proposing a division of Sandoval County into two “energy zones” – in the northwest and southeast, fragmenting Navajo residents in Greater Chaco from urban residents closer to Albuquerque.

"It’s terribly frightening to know that the profit interests of oil and gas corporations are so often, so successfully, and so deliberately substituted for with the interests of a healthy economy for local people. If the business reps on the Sandoval County Commission abdicate their duty to protect the people of Sandoval County and instead chase short-term extreme extraction the people will suffer, our air and water will be trashed, and our democratic institutions denuded," said Mariel Nanasi, Executive Director, New Energy Economy.

“We rely on the appointees to the Planning and Zoning Commission to look out for the residents of New Mexico, we hope our commissioners will listen to their constituents,” said Placitas resident Mike Neas. “Our health and the health of our land and water is too valuable to be given away so frivolously to fracking.”

###

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Come to the Rally ---- What You Need to Know About Sandoval County’s Oil and Gas Ordinances


What you Need to know About the Sandoval County Oil and Gas Ordinace 
View this email in your browser

What You Need to Know About Sandoval County’s
Oil and Gas Ordinances

#Common Ground Rising/Stop Fracking the Rio Grande Valley
For the past 18 months, Sandoval County Commission has been undergoing a process of formulating its oil and gas ordinance. The ordinance was initially pursued in November 2015 when SandRidge Energy Inc., an Oklahoma-based oil and gas company, applied for a special-use permit. Since then, citizen groups have organized to give formal comment, input and reports for inclusion in the ordinance to ensure protections from the impacts of the extractive industry--including all surface impacts.
Overview
Ordinance divides county into 2 regions
  • The current draft divides the county into a Northwest and Southeast region, each with different use protections (4.7 in the Draft Ordinance).
  • The ordinance establishes energy development zones that do not provide adequate community protections.  
  1. Northwest Sandoval County
Sandoval County has 600 hundred-fracking wells mostly concentrated in the northwest region, also known as the Checkerboard area and part of Greater Chaco.  The Checkerboard area covers multiple jurisdictions of land ownership including public, private, state, Indian allotments, and Tribal trust lands.
  • Sandoval County ignores oil and gas impacts affecting residents living in the Checkerboard region--some areas are under the County’s jurisdiction.

Nageezi (18mi. north of Sandoval County) Photo Credit: Kendra Pinto https://www.flickr.com/photos/wildearth_guardians/27670305054/in/album-72157668145615084/ 
July 11, 2016 - Nageezi, NM
36 storage tanks exploded at a newly developed fracking site operated by WPX Energy.  Investigations revealed that WPX  in order cut costs used cheaper  aluminum fittings instead of steel on many of its connectors.  One or more shortly gave way leaking gas, which ignited. The fire burned for 5-days. WPX Claimed the plum of emissions dissipated quickly. Former WPX vice president Ken McQueen now serves as cabinet secretary of NM Energy, Minerals and Natural Resource Department. 
Mr. McQueen presented information to the County at the May 12 meeting. The State has asked the County Not to have an ordinance and to Streamline the process along with the Permit to the OCD that would grant a permit in the County at the same time. The whole process would take 10 days and there would be no public hearing or notifications to County Residents. OCD has the Power to Waive the 600 ft rule from homes and Schools to 350 ft. With no ordinance in place there could be hundreds of wells permitted very quickly. 
2.)    Southeast Sandoval County
The southeastern region of the county is more heavily populated than the northwest.
  • Communities in the northwest are disproportionately impacted by oil and gas extraction. The County largely ignores what these communities experience.
  • The County practices environmental racism and has no regard for social justice.
This was brought mentioned at the May 12th Meeting. Comments were ignored and no attempt was made to modify the draft before submission to the Planning and Zoning Commission.
In a Q&A at the May 12th Meeting, Comments were give about these concerns and they were ignored. There was no attempt made to modify the draft before submission to the Planning and Zoning Commission.

Division of the County is not needed or wanted.
This industry divides communities, families, and in a short amount of time impacts their health and safety.

Additional insights
  • In March 2016, Thrust Energy Chairman and CEO Jim Manatt, informed the County of the company’s intentions to develop the Albuquerque Basin. Rio Grande Valley Mancos Shale Gas into the ‘Next Permian basin’. Manatt bought the 55,000 acres leases from AMREP for the Rio Rancho Estates in 2014.  
  • Mr. Manatt brought SandRidge Energy Inc. to New Mexico to submit a special use application Development permit (ADP) to Drill and explore by horizontal drilling.  There were 3 wells to be drilled but only one well was officially applied for the ADP.
 
The County has NO Emergency Response Plan
  • In September 2016, an IPRA (Inspection of Public Records Act) was submitted requesting for the oil and gas company’s Emergency Response Plan that was supposed to be filed with the County.
  • The County refused citing national security reason. The County is supposed to have a emergency response plan in place.  The OAG office found that Sandoval County was in Violation of IPRA . We are filing a lawsuit for that document.  
  • Mike Springfield Planning Director he admits the County needs time to Draft an Emergency Response Plan.  
Where we are now


 Photo Credit Mike Neas Picture of Ordinances from Sandoval 32 pages, San Miguel 200 pages and Santa Fe 175 pages
 
On May 12, 2017 the County released the final Draft Copy of the 32-page “Dead Ordinance”.  This picture shows the noticeable size and content differences on oil and gas ordinances from San Miguel (200 pages) and Santa Fe (175 pages) counties on the left, and Sandoval County (32 pages) on the right.
County pulls a Bait and Switch on Citizens input process on Ordinance
The First Draft was a work in progress with Planning staff and the citizens’ input. Post election resulted in an entirely new and different draft. The document floated as a working draft until May 12th.  
In the May 12th  meeting the County Commission stated that they had 2 options:
  1. No ordinance and streamline the application process
  2. Allow this ordinance to go forward and be approved

This ordinance lacks adequate protections for water, air and public safety. The are many issues not addressed in this ordinance.

PLEASE COME TO OUR RALLY 4:30 pm
AHEAD OF THE P&Z  Meeting at 6 pm (See details Below)
We will have talking points available at the Meeting. Public Comment Sign-in is at 5:45 Pm   

Picture of dirty Flaring and Dust particles in air
Fracking Threatens Our Most Precious Resouces
Common Ground Rising
For our Children, Water, Air, and Health.
5.23.17 Tuesday afternoon 4:30 Pm
Rally Ahead of the Meeting at 6 PM
Outside
Sandoval County Admin Bldg
1500 Idalia RD NEm Bernalillo NM 87004
PLEASE COME JOIN US

Monday, May 15, 2017

The Roake Case goes to Court

Corruption in Sandoval county going to court-- JoAnne Roake Case Update – At long last! Please attend the court hearing that will be held on Thursday, May 18, 2017, from 11:00 to12:00. Location: Valencia County District Court 1835 Highway 314 South West Los Lunas, NM 87031 Courtroom #302 – Judge James Lawrence Sanchez I will be sitting at the table with our attorney, but will not testify. This case will be argued before the judge by the attorneys. There will be no witnesses. It would be wonderful to have some supporters in the gallery. (Of course, no booing or hissing!) Why has this hearing been delayed for so long? What is going on? First of all, I want to thank those of you who donated to the Sandoval County Planning and Zoning Fund. Because of your donations, at the end of February we were able to hire a very experienced attorney in county matters, Karen Mendenhall. In early April, Karen wrote a letter to the Sandoval County attorney Natalie Sanchez Downey. As you will see from the attached letter to the county, our case appears to be a solid one. A brief history: The county, unfortunately, is sticking to its position that it had the right to terminate Planning and Zoning Commissioner JoAnne Roake in March 2017. That date is the expiration of the term of Planning and Zoning Commissioner Sam Thompson (from Corrales). Sam had resigned for personal reasons. At the request of Commissioner Norah Scherzinger, on October 6, 2016, the county commission voted to appoint JoAnne Roake for a two-year term (to end in October 2018). Commissioner Jay Block, who defeated Commissioner Scherzinger in the November elections, was encouraged to appoint someone of his choosing to the Planning and Zoning seat held by JoAnne Roake. At first JoAnne was informed that she was immediately removed from the Planning and Zoning Commission. Subsequently she was officially told by the county attorney that her term would expire in March 2017, not in October 2018. The problem: There is nothing in the Planning and Zoning ordinance that prohibits the Commission from approving a two-year term, even though that person is replacing a commissioner whose term has not yet expired. Thus, this action to deny a commissioner a fully approved two-year term that has been unanimously approved by the county commission, is in violation of the current ordinance. Moreover, it raises serious concerns about abuse of power, as well as due process. Thus, our legal challenge actually goes beyond the case of this particular commissioner. The plot thickens. On March 2, 2017, the county commission decided to consider changes to the Planning and Zoning appointment process as outlined in the planning and zoning ordinance. These proposed changes were originally requested by Commissioner Block. One of those suggested changes was to specifically authorize a newly elected county commissioner to remove a sitting Planning and Zoning commissioner prior to the expiration of that Planning and Zoning commissioner’s term. Two of us attended the county commission meeting and protested this proposed change (and another one dealing with the removal of Planning and Zoning commissioners). The language was subsequently redrafted to authorize the commission to remove a Planning and Zoning commissioner (who has quasi-judicial responsibilities) at any time, for any reason. Again, the two of us challenged this language. The final proposed change dealing with the removal of a commissioner is to be considered at this Thursday’s county commission meeting. Thanks especially to Chairman Don Chapman’s support, the new language is based on suggestions made by Alan Friedman from Placitas and myself. If accepted by the county commission, a Planning and Zoning commissioner can only be removed for cause, with notice and after a public hearing. (See attached.) This is a positive step forward but does not correct past illegal actions. So let’s get back to our court case. A letter was sent to the county attorney stating our legal position that the commission did not have the authority to remove JoAnne prior to October 18, 2018. The county would not budge on the issue, so Karen sent a writ of prohibition to the court requesting that the county action of removing Roake prior to October 18, 2018, be ordered void. (The county commission, by the way, approved Commissioner Block’s request to appoint his candidate for JoAnne’s seat, Keith Brown, on April 6, 2017.) Why has it taken so long to have a hearing? The hearing has been delayed for so long because three different judges had to recuse themselves from our case! (One did so because he was the brother of a Sandoval County commissioner.) A fourth judge had such a busy calendar that he could not hear the case until July. On May 4 we learned that the case was reassigned to Judge Sanchez of Valencia County. Again, the hearing will be held on Thursday, May 18, 2017, from 11:00 to 12:00. The location for the hearing is: Valencia County District Court 1835 Highway 314 South West Los Lunas, NM 87031 Courtroom #302 – Judge James Lawrence Sanchez If the time changes, I will let you know. I sincerely hope some of you will be able to attend and demonstrate support for this important case. Thanks for your incredible support.

This is important case to everyone in counties along the Rio Grande valley.

We ask you to Support the petition for a moratorium in Bernalillo County to stop oil and gas development and all supporting infrastructure projects. There are 20,000 oil and gas wells planned with pipelines to Mexico the county is corrupt run by thugs who will not allow public participation and is stacking the commission with industry friendly appointments. They have broken the law on this case, on the Open Meetings act and on IPRA also far. They are releasing a disappointing and non protective ordinance to run through a public hearing process.

The line has been drawn in the sand. Help us protect our water, air, land and health.

Please support Common Ground Community Trust
All donations over $100.00 : Albuquerque center for peace and justice
in care for common Ground commit Trust


Thursday, April 6, 2017

Sandoval County Commission uses nuclear option to change rules on appointments

If you want to protect Democracy and public participation
Come to this meeting

https://www.facebook.com/groups/StopFrackingtheRio/permalink/655470674661149/

Jay Block said that he would use the "Nuclear option" to get what he wanted and now he is doing just that. Arbitrarily and capricious are the actions of this Commission working for the industry. Remember to trust actions over words. Building trust by a newly elected official should a priority. Instead we have someone who is rewriting the rules to serve his own purpose.

Critical Sandoval County Commission meeting!
Please attend!

Commissioners are proposing major changes to the Planning and Zoning Commission appointment process.

Today - Thursday, April 6 – the County Commission will be considering approval of changes in the county ordinance that will have serious consequences to the planning and zoning commission. (see attached)

Here is a breakdown of what is wrong with the proposed changes to the ordinance. (All language that is underlined is what is being proposed for approval.)

Proposed change:

If you want to protect Democracy and public participation
Come to this meeting

https://www.facebook.com/groups/StopFrackingtheRio/permalink/655470674661149/

Jay Block said that he would use the "Nuclear option" to get what he wanted and now he is doing just that. Arbitrarily and capricious are the actions of this Commission working for the industry. Remember to trust actions over words. Building trust by a newly elected official should a priority. Instead we have someone who is rewriting the rules to serve his own purpose.

Critical Sandoval County Commission meeting!
Please attend!

Commissioners are proposing major changes to the Planning and Zoning Commission appointment process.

Today - Thursday, April 6 – the County Commission will be considering approval of changes in the county ordinance that will have serious consequences to the planning and zoning commission. (see attached)

Here is a breakdown of what is wrong with the proposed changes to the ordinance. (All language that is underlined is what is being proposed for approval.)

Notwithstanding other provisions of this Ordinance to the contrary, the terms of all members, regardless of the length of the term so provided, shall be subject to expiration when the commissioner who made the appointment leaves office for any reason.

What this means:

ANYTIME there is a new commissioner – one that is newly elected or appointed -  that new commissioner is entitled to pick a new planning and zoning commissioner regardless of how much time the current planning and zoning commissioner has remaining in his or her term.

Thus, the circumstances that would apply under this provision would not just be due to elections.  A commissioner may have to leave office before his/her terms ends due to illness or other reasons.

Proposed change:

A newly elected or duly appointed commissioner may, in his or her sole discretion and within 90 days of taking office, choose to replace any member appointed by a predecessor. The removal of the incumbent member and the appointment of his or her replacement shall be in accordance with the requirements of Section 2 (B) of this Ordinance. If a member is not replaced by an incoming commissioner within the time allotted herein, such member shall continue to serve out the remainder of the designated term.

What this means:

The “newly elected or duly appointed commissioner has 90 days to replace any planning and zoning commissioner selected by the prior commissioner.  If there is no replacement then the current planning and zoning commissioner continues to serve his/her term.

Proposed change:

Members may be removed for cause stated in writing, including but not limited to, frequent unexcused absences. Members shall be removed for any reason by a majority vote of the full Board of County Commissioners following a public hearing meeting. Written notice of proposed removal shall be provided by the County to the member at least fourteen days prior to the meeting of the Board of County Commissioners at which removal is to take place.
 What this means:

The board of county commissioners can fire a planning and zoning commission for any reason without a hearing. No justification is needed, no due process.  Planning and zoning commissioners would be treated as “at will” employees.

What’s wrong with this picture:

Blatant political control of the planning and zoning commission must be opposed.

   1.   These changes make these volunteers, who have very important legal powers and duties, subject to the political whims of the commission.  Planning and zoning commissioners are like judges – they have quasi-judicial responsibilities.

 2.    Just because a commissioner is newly elected or newly appointed should not give them the right to appoint a new planning and zoning commissioner and fire the current one.   This makes the appointment process into a political spoils system.

 3.    The board of county commissioners should not be able to get rid of a commissioner for any reason. If commissioners do not like the decisions being made by certain planning and zoning commissioners they should not be able to simply dismiss them.  Treating these positions as if they were “at will” really threatens the integrity and independence of this quasi-judicial body.

 4.    Decisions made by the planning and zoning commission can be appealed to the commission.   So there is legal recourse to planning and zoning decisions, and the board of county commissioners does retain some power.

 5.    Rather than setting up a very politicized appointment process, the board of county commissioners should consider a process that requires public notice, a screening process and a selection process that is open and fair.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Senate Memorial 78 moves to Senate Conservation Committee

Senator Mimi Stewart's, Senate Memorial 78 will be heard in the Senate Conservation Committee tomorrow at 8:00. If it passes it will go to the Senate Floor. This Memorial is a big step in recognizing the importance of Local Government regulations on the extractive industries.
 
Federal EPA regulations are already being rolled back. On the State level the NM Oil Conservation Division is incapable of increasing fines and even collecting fines from bad actors in the oil and gas industry because of a 2009 State Supreme Court ruling which makes it necessary for the NM Attorney General to file suit against violators. Because of political reasons this has not been done since 2009. 
 
SM 78 would show New Mexico Senate encouragement and support for Local Governments to protect the health,safety and general welfare of the citizens by establishing oil and gas ordinances.  
 
SM 78BERNALILLO COUNTY OIL & GAS DEVELOPMENT

Mike Neas

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Benalilllo Oil and Gas Development Bill in the Senate Rules Committee Needs Your Support!

WE NEED YOU HELP! to Get this Benalilllo Oil and Gas Development Bill passed out of the Senate Rules Committee
it is being Heard at 8:30 am 3/10/17 RM 321
Please attend watch online and
make the Call to the Senators Below **********Please support this Bill********** 
SENATE MEMORIAL 78
53rd legislature - STATE OF NEW MEXICO - first session, 2017
INTRODUCED BY
Mimi Stewart
A MEMORIAL
REQUESTING THE CITY OF ALBUQUERQUE AND BERNALILLO COUNTY TO DEVELOP REGULATIONS TO ADDRESS THE SOCIAL, ECONOMIC AND ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS ASSOCIATED WITH POTENTIAL OIL AND GAS DEVELOPMENT IN BERNALILLO COUNTY. 
WHEREAS, there is potential for oil and gas development in Bernalillo county, especially in the western portion of the county; and
WHEREAS, a special use permit application for oil and gas drilling near Rio Rancho was submitted by SandRidge energy, inc., but later withdrawn; and
WHEREAS, although no immediate oil and gas activities in Bernalillo county are planned, current financial and energy circumstances indicate that this lack of current activity could change at any time; and
WHEREAS, any risk of contamination to the water supply in Bernalillo county can be minimized by proper design, installation and completion of wells; and
WHEREAS, pollution prevention costs much less than pollution remediation, and in many cases, pollution remediation may be not be technically or economically feasible; and
WHEREAS, oil and gas drilling can provide highly valuable hydrogeologic information about potable and non-potable water resources; and
WHEREAS, the issues related to oil and gas surface activities include trucking, transfer and disposal of oil and gas, production water and other byproducts associated with exploration and development; water quality; air quality; traffic; noise pollution; road density and disturbance; public access to information; and cost-sharing for inspections and enforcement, and these surface activities are minimally regulated by the oil conservation commission; and
WHEREAS, the complex nature of oil and gas exploration and development suggests that input is needed from a multidisciplinary group of technical experts to ensure that potential oil and gas activities are conducted in a manner that benefits all residents of the city of Albuquerque and Bernalillo county while minimizing harm to the environment; and
WHEREAS, crafting technically sound oil and gas development regulations will take time and careful consideration of the facts, as well as consideration of public attitudes; and
WHEREAS, recent efforts that have taken place in San Miguel county illustrate the benefits of a proactive, collaborative effort between government, residents and technical experts to control the adverse impacts of oil and gas development; and
WHEREAS, taking a proactive position on the issue of oil and gas development in Bernalillo county and having regulations in place before oil and gas exploration and development activities begin will benefit the residents and the environment of Bernalillo county and the city of Albuquerque while allowing for prudent development of these resources;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE SENATE OF THE STATE OF NEW MEXICO that the Albuquerque city council and the board of county commissioners of Bernalillo county be requested to jointly convene a multidisciplinary task force to investigate the potential social, economic and environmental effects of oil and gas development in Bernalillo county; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Albuquerque city council and the board of county commissioners of Bernalillo county be requested to develop and implement appropriate regulations to minimize adverse social, economic and environmental effects of future oil and gas development in Bernalillo county; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that copies of this memorial be transmitted to the mayor and city council of the city of Albuquerque and the manager and board of county commissioners of Bernalillo county.
Link has Info on contact for Senators. 
Senator Linda M. Lopez D Chair
Senator Jeff Steinborn D Vice Chair
Senator Gregory A. Baca R Member
Senator Jacob R. Candelaria D Member
Senator Stuart Ingle R Member
Senator Daniel A. Ivey-Soto D Member
Senator Gerald Ortiz y Pino D Member
Senator Mary Kay Papen D Member
Senator Cliff R. Pirtle R Member
Senator Clemente Sanchez D Member
Senator Mark Moores

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Greater Chaco Coalition: NM Indian and Veterans Affairs committee passed Moratorium on Fracking Memorial

Victory! NM House Committee on Indian and Veteran Affairs unanimously passed the memorial in support of a moritorium on fracking Greater Chaco!! 5 Dems, and 4 Republicans. Historic!
Thanks Charlotte for the Facebook post!
https://www.facebook.com/charlottelevinson/posts/10155136823097112

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Bill to bring back oil and gas pollution penalty moves forward By Laura Paskus



Bill to bring back oil and gas pollution penalty moves forward

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Laura Paskus
Sen. Richard Martinez, D-EspaƱola


Sen. Richard Martinez, D-EspaƱola, presented a bill to the Senate Conservation Committee Thursday that would restore a state agency’s ability to penalize oil and gas companies that pollute water. Senate Bill 307 would also increase those penalties, which haven’t been updated since the Legislature passed the Oil and Gas Act of 1935.
During his presentation to the committee, Martinez pointed out the timeliness of the bill as the Trump administration has emphasized, he said, the “need to shift power to states.” If passed and signed into law, SB 307 would “ensure we meet the federal government’s standards for New Mexico to be in charge of its oil and gas programs,” he said.
Under the Safe Drinking Water Act, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency can authorize states to take over certain regulatory duties. Under that program, states must be able to assess penalties against companies that pollute water.
But in New Mexico, the state’s Oil Conservation Division (OCD) hasn’t been able to do that for years.
In 2009, Marbob Energy Corporation, now owned by Concho Resources, sued OCD. The company argued that the division lacked the authority to assess civil penalties and sanctions against companies that polluted water resources.
The New Mexico Supreme Court sided with Marbob, ruling that OCD should instead report violations to the New Mexico Office of the Attorney General, which could in turn sue to collect penalties. Because the AG must prove that the pollution violation was committed “knowingly and willfully,” to enforce civil penalties on oil and gas companies, it must prove the violation to a criminal standard.
Since 2009, OCD has not referred any violations to the AG.
Pros and cons
During the committee meeting, more than a dozen citizens and representatives of environmental groups spoke in support of the bill.
Those groups included the League of Women Voters, Sierra Club, Interfaith Light and Power, Conservation Voters New Mexico, New Mexico Wildlife Federation, New Mexico Solar Energy Association, Juntos and the New Mexico Environmental Law Center.
Mary Feldblum, representing the Oil and Gas Accountability Project, pointed out that New Mexico’s current penalties are far lower than those in other states. “This would impose penalties on bad actors,” she told the committee members, “it has nothing to do with the good actors.”
Industry representatives opposed the bill.
“With all due respect to the sponsor, who has been very good to business, there are misperceptions about the penalties,” said Mike D’Antonio, lobbyist for the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association. D’Antonio pointed out that OCD has many different enforcement actions at its disposal. The division can shut-in wells, for example, or ban operators from receiving new permits. Those and other actions are as or more effective than penalties, D’Antonio argued.
Industry also opposed language in the bill that would eliminate the requirement that a person acted “knowingly and willfully” in their violation of the Oil and Gas Act.
“I believe there are a lot of problems with the bill,” said Karin Foster, executive director of the New Mexico Independent Petroleum Association. Those include eliminating the knowing and willful standard and also the bill’s language concerning violations that “threaten to pollute groundwater.”
Foster added that industry would like to work with advocates to make the bill better.

U.S. Energy Information Administration
Map of the Permian Basin
“This sort of bill has a real impact on us, small operators like us,” said Claire Chase with Mack Energy, which she said employs about 1,000 people.
“With oil coming back, the Permian Basin is the next big play,” Chase said. “Companies look at New Mexico and if it’s unfriendly, they’re going to go drill in Texas.”
The Permian Basin, with its vast oil deposits, encompasses part of west Texas and southeastern New Mexico. Most of the basin falls within Texas.
Gabrielle Gerholt with Concho Resources also spoke against the bill. A former general counsel with OCD, Gerholt said Martinez was misinformed about the agency. The Marbob case, she said, ensured that the cases of companies accused of violating the law would be heard by a neutral body—a court—rather than by OCD.
She also invited people to look on the OCD website, where penalties are listed.
According to the division’s website, in 2016 it assessed $20,000 in penalties against a total of five companies for six incidents.
That same year saw a total of 1,264 “unauthorized releases” of crude oil, natural gas and produced water statewide.
“A simple bill”
Following public comment, Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth, D-Santa Fe, noted that he introduced a similar bill in 2009.
He also asked about fines in other states and wondered how today’s penalties stack up against the 1935-implemented penalty of $1,000 per day.
Martinez’ expert witness, attorney Michelle Miano, said that penalties in Texas are $10,000 per day. And committee members and staffers calculated that in today’s dollars, the 1935 penalty of $1,000 per day is equivalent to about $17,000 today when adjusting for inflation.
The bill’s proposed $10,000 per day maximum penalty isn’t close to that, Wirth noted. “Before arguing that the sky is falling, let’s put this into perspective,” said Wirth, who added, “People can message this how they want, but [the bill] is trying to bring it up to date.”
The committee’s Republican senators disagreed.
Sen. William Payne, R-Albuquerque, raised a hypothetical scenario, envisioning “some poor guy” putting the wrong date on a permit application and then facing a third-degree felony.
The bill would make it a third-degree felony if a person knowingly violates the Oil and Gas Act or falsifies, omits or destroys required records.
Sen. Ron Griggs, R-Alamogordo, also spoke against the bill, which he said appeared to have been worked on “without talking to the people involved.”
During a discussion about penalties and spills, Sen. Bill Soules, D-Las Cruces, asked if anyone from OCD, a division of the New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department, was in the room.
No employees of the division nor the agency were present.
The committee passed the bill along party lines. SB 307 heads next to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Martinez, who chairs that committee, spoke with NM Political Report Thursday after the hearing.
“It’s really a simple bill. If you look at the violations and penalties in our surrounding states, New Mexico is the lowest,” he said. “All we’re trying to do is bring the civil penalties up to standard and give the OCD the authority to impose those rather than having to go to the Attorney General’s Office.”
Martinez said he was disappointed no one from OCD or EMNRD attended the meeting. “They haven’t communicated with me at all,” he said, “though I think the bill helps them in many ways.”
As the bill moves forward, Martinez said he hopes to work on some of the issues brought up at the meeting to build a consensus. But, he said, “I’m not sure we’re going to convince the industry that it’s not a bad bill.”
Correction: The story originally misidentified Mike D’Antonio as John D’Antonio.