Million Pounds of Ground Beef Recalled. Getting to the point where roadkill is healthier.
SF New Mexican:
I was there also, outside in the cold and dark. I did not see Commissioner Sullivan, and I was looking for familiar faces. The crowd outside was large ... I suppose I could have missed him. I would think a certain amount of vocal support would have accompanied his presence, though. The comment about needing police is patently silly and needlessly sensational. It was a vocal crowd, not a physical one. I could wish some in the audience had let the Tecton shills speak their piece, and then shouted their displeasure ... but as the evening went on, and especially after Betsy Siwula-Brandt and other spoke so eloquently, I can see even more strongly why emotions are running so high. The frac’ing process not only injects water, but chemicals as well. The EPA says frac’ing is safe, but their opinion is highly suspect. According to Siwula-Brandt, Tecton’s chances of success are very low. I get the idea that Tecton has even more information they’re holding back. Siwula-Brandt was a godsend, because she worked in the industry, giving us a great wealth of valuable knowledge swiftly.
The worse news is that Tecton is only a harbinger, one of what may be many companies testing out whether the big guns should show up and thoroughly perforate our beautiful landscape via less ‘environmental’ methods. If successful, Conoco-Philips, Exxon, Mobil, and others will follow swiftly with hundreds of wells. I want to emphasize the Tecton rep said that. This development is very bad news for Santa Fe in general, and it was patently obvious by the end of the evening, no matter how Tecton tried to dress the pig. Tecton is only going to commit to what surety and safety the State demands, and the State’s demands are so minimal as to be a joke. The bonds that are required to be posted are about the cost of an SUV. Given the risks involved, they should be in the millions.
Just in one evening, any basis for even the slimmest trust was destroyed. The Tecton representative was asked multiple times what his company would do if the frac’ing process contaminated the aquifer. His only answer, repeated multiple times, was “That’s not going to happen.” Obviously, he doesn’t want to illuminate the enormous long-term costs and headaches involved in trying to remediate a contaminated aquifer, not to mention the devastating impacts on property values. There have been 1,400 incidents of groundwater contamination over the last ten years in New Mexico. [see bottom of that article] When reading, keep in mind Tecton’s style of drilling is riskier than most others. This question deserves a clear answer. Does any energy company have the capital to pay for a ruined aquifer? There is nothing more important than guaranteeing and insuring the safety of our water resources. Our water resources are overextended right now, and we are facing dryer years to come ... risking our aquifer is, plain and simple, wrong. This is not about the water Tecton will use, it is about the risk to our aquifer.
There were some citizens who were at the previous Tecton meeting, and were very vocal about some ‘lies’ they had caught the representative in ... such as, contacting fire departments in affected areas. The citizens found these contacts had not been made. A property owner near the current drilling operation had complained at the previous meeting about the noise from the propane generator running the pump. It is apparently intrusive and constant. His noise issue is apparently still unresolved, due to the fact Tecton cannot get electricity to the pump site. The representative said they’d continue to try to resolve the issue ... though the property owner was understandably skeptical. So promises of integrity are apparently not, so far, being borne out.
Realtors gave witness to the significant drop in real estate values in the areas so far drilled and areas proposed for drilling, on top of the already-depressed housing bubble. Some reported complete loss of sales. Others, small businesses in the areas, claimed to have hard evidence of loss of revenue. The Tecton reps had no answers for this, they asked for documentary proof. The business owner asked if he would get full compensation upon positive proof, Tecton said “No.” Howls from the audience.
Homeowners complained loudly that they cannot, even in a reasonable amount of spare time, manage to discover who actually owns the mineral rights under their properties. Who owns the rights, who is doing the leasing without consulting us, the surface owners? Why are we being ambushed this way? Where are our state representatives who should be protecting us from such exploitation? Why is disclosure of this ‘split estate’ situation not highlighted in property transactions?
A few reverent individuals mentioned, in good New Age form, the NIMBY argument. Our sins have come to land in our back yards. It is true we need to change the way we live. But many in Santa Fe County live a much more green lifestyle than most in the U.S. Many try hard to minimize their carbon footprint. Why should we suffer our landscape, our heritage, our health, our property values, our livelihoods to be developed for oil and gas?
I would encourage all in SF County and City to come to the next meeting. This development impacts everyone within the County, not just we who stand in the line of fire. Don’t think so? Try this for a starter. If the aquifer becomes contaminated (and Ms. Siwula-Brandt’s testimony made it clear that is a significant risk), the County will come to Santa Fe City demanding water. Like your tax rate? Just imagine the fallout. Comment was made that the next phase of exploration will be going further afield in New Mexico. In our haste to try to discover new sources of energy in America, the Government is letting oil and gas companies explore ever more sensitive and fragile areas. Perhaps, after this episode, your back yard too. It is in your interest to find out more about the issue.
Check your deed. If you don’t own the mineral rights under your home, work hard to find out who does. Find out if they are being, or are going to be, leased to energy companies. Demand, of our elected officials, legislation that makes drilling in sensitive areas appropriately costly. Bonds need to reflect reality, large amounts of insurance must be carried to cover damage to irreplaceable water resources and to compensate property owners fairly. Some areas need to be deemed so sensitive as to preclude any sort of mineral right exploitation. “Split Estate” needs to be looked at with a withering eye, and surface owners need greater rights. As it stands right now, we get 30 days warning, and then in come the drills. Mineral rights trump surface rights. We’re ‘condo’ owners, and never knew it. Demand independent verification of Tecton’s claims, by more than one survey source. Their first test well has generated very little oil. Their claims of millions of barrels is, so far, just words. Demand authoritative proof. Demand independent inspections of operating procedures. Demand proper archaeological clearance. And more. Get involved. Learn more about the issues. Write to councilpersons, state senators, state representatives, your Congresspersons.
The possibility of oil and gas hangs big bucks under our local politicians’ noses. Politicians tend to rub their hands at such easy revenue ... no significant increase in housing, no significant impact to infrastructure ... just bucks rolling in as the barrells roll out. No doubt if public opinion runs strongly counter, Tecton may come up with a PR coup, like a portion of proceeds benefitting schools or schoolchildren. Politicians use such promises as an excuse to approve the scheme, ‘for the greater good’. I mention children, because they get used as a handy political battering-ram way too often. No matter what the PR, don’t let Tecton (or any other energy outfit, for that matter) dodge scrutiny of risky extraction practices and the longterm fallout. It is only in our new environment of high energy prices that these difficult-to-extract oil-bearing resources are being considered for exploitation. Can they be made to be profitable, is a big question. I don’t see why SF County should be the one to answer that, given the fragility of our water situation.
Rarely do we, the people, succeed against corporate interests. Last night gave me hope. We can succeeed if we come out in unexpected numbers, with strong counter-arguments. I was proud to be a Santa Fean last evening, as so many eloquent and powerful voices earnestly and angrily explained their opposition.
The next meeting is with some of our local politicians at the Eldorado Elementary School, November 15th at 7PM. Be there, or get frac’d.
Visit Drilling Santa Fe for more info.
Later: Some clarifications. This press release mentions that Tecton intends to not use toxic chemicals in their frac’ing process, and that the ‘50 to 100 million barrels’ are contained in a swath from Santa Fe to Socorro, not just Santa Fe County. These same Rio Grande Rift formations contain our generous (and vital) aquifers, as I understand the geology. Obviously, the ‘environmentalism’ of Tecton will not be applicable to subsequent energy exploitation after their exploration.
Even later: Wyoming’s had a similar problem with “split estate.” Split estate seems an incendiary topic in the West. New Mexico passed the Surface Owner Protection bill earlier this year; I still feel the bond amounts are ridiculously low. More info: Read what the Rio Grande Sierran has to say about the situation. The County may have limited jurisdiction over subsurface development.
Ridiculously late: Tom Ford bought the mineral rights under his 1,400 acres in Galisteo for $84,000. That equates to $60/acre, right? Let’s buy our mineral rights. Today.
The Denver Channel:
Report: Pilots Fell Asleep During Approach To DIA. “Missed all the calls from Air Traffic Control to meet crossing restrictions (where pilots have to be at a certain altitude at a certain location) at the DANDD intersection (the intersection in the sky) in the southeast corridor to Denver. The crossing restriction to be at DANDD was to be at flight level 19,000 and 250 knots. Instead we crossed DANDD at 35,000 feet at Mach .82 (approximately 590 mph) ...”
For the photographically curious,
I just finished my ‘large project’, so I felt safe in trying the Lightroom 1.2 update again (for those who don’t know, the update twanged my desktop, but installed fine on my laptop). It went without a hitch. I have a feeling that one of my other programs’ automatic update features decided to install at the same time I was updating LR. Lesson learned. This install seemed terribly anticlimactic.
Top Gear reviews a really, really, really small car. Hilarious. But surprisingly practical.
Later: I can’t get the image of the Peel driving behind the two BBC World News anchors, while they’re broadcasting, out of my head. Grinning like an idiot. Great site about the car. Forget the Yaris, Fit, etc. - build your own microcar.
Alzheimer’s/cold sore virus link. For the paranoid, cold sores are not canker sores. Different illnesses completely.
Hiroshima bomb pilot dies aged 92. “Gen Tibbets had asked for no funeral nor headstone as he feared opponents of the bombing may use it as a place of protest.”
How to survive a hangover. One problem: they don’t tell you the kind of ginseng to take. Each has different properties. Do so indiscriminately, you’ll find you’re a nervous wreck. Find a good Chinese herbalist and ask.
The New Yorker:
Chronicle of Higher Ed:
How Educated Must an Artist Be? “... the first goal has yet to be achieved — can anyone name a great Ph.D. artist of our time ... ?”
NY Times Editorial:
Torture and the Attorneys General. “Would Mr. Mukasey approve of a foreign jailer using waterboarding on an American soldier?” Surely that’s a question that should have been asked.
Rule Jostles Runners Who Race to Their Own Tune. I can readily appreciate both sides of the argument ... but to me, a race is a ‘formal’ test of skill. Leave the tunes behind.
Fallout from the housing crunch ...
Bombay Company is no more. Pier 1 isn’t doing well either. Seems Target has also been strong competition for comparable furnishings at lower price points.
SF New Mexican:
Astronomers struggle to explain ‘mega-outburst’. Perseus has a new bright spot.
SF New Mexican:
Popularity of rock climbing continues to soar, but this hobby comes with a price. Gym skills don’t directly transfer to outdoor rock. Apprentice.
“Singapore Airlines has taken the unusual step of publicly asking passengers on its new Airbus A380 plane not to engage in any sexual activities.” Given the security concerns over fluids these days, I’m surprised it hasn’t been labelled ‘terrorism.’
Optical tweezers. Just for my own edification.
Police: Boy playing with matches started 38,000-acre fire. Sounds like we should do a job review of Smokey the Bear.
Princeton, Italy strike deal to repatriate 8 antiquities. I believe, in my visits to the Princeton University Art Museum, that I’ve seen those articles. Spectacular.
NY Times Opinion:
Rural life, belated frost.
“Twenty-one states will run out of money for children’s health insurance in the coming year, and at least nine of those states will exhaust their allotments in March if Congress simply continues spending at current levels, a new federal study says.”