Revealed: How Big Oil Got Expedited Permitting for Fracking on Public Lands Into the Defense Bill

Special interests are getting more than a fair share of the pie of public lands and water use, while the wild horses and burros are getting the short end of the stick.  Below is a detailed article that shows what we’re up against.

SOURCE:  desmogblog.com

by Steve Horn

Screen Shot 2014-12-12 at 4.12.03 PM Photo Credit: C-SPAN Screenshot

The U.S. Senate has voted 89-11 to approve the Defense Authorization Act of 2015, following the December 4 U.S.House of Representatives’ 300-119 up-vote and now awaits President Barack Obama’s signature.

The 1,616-page piece of pork barrel legislation contains a provision — among other controversial measures — to streamline permitting for hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) on U.S. public lands overseen by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), a unit of the U.S. Department of Interior.

Buried on page 1,156 of the bill as Section 3021 and subtitled “Bureau of Land Management Permit Processing,” the bill’s passage has won praise from both the American Petroleum Institute (API) and the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) and comes on the heels of countries from around the world coming to a preliminary deal at the United Nations climate summit in Lima, Peru, to cap greenhouse gas emissions.

“We applaud the Senate…and are hopeful the president signs this measure in a timely fashion,” said Dan Naatz, IPAA lobbyist and former congressional staffer, in a press release.

Alluding to the bottoming out of the global price of oil, Naatz further stated, “In these uncertain times of price volatility, it’s encouraging for America’s job creators to have regulatory certainty through a streamlined permitting process.”

Streamlined permitting means faster turn-around times for the industry’s application process to drill on public lands, bringing with it all of the air,groundwater and climate change issues that encompass the shale production process.

At the bottom of the same press release, IPAA boasted of its ability to get the legislative proposal introduced initially by U.S. Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) as the BLM Permit Processing Improvement Act of 2014 after holding an “educational meeting” with Udall’s staffers. Endorsed by some major U.S.environmental groups, Udall took more than $191,000 from the oil and gas industry during his successful 2014 re-election campaign.

IPAA‘s publicly admitted influence-peddling efforts are but the tip of the iceberg for how Big Oil managed to stuff expedited permitting for fracking on U.S.public lands into the National Defense Authorization Act of 2015.

IPAA, API Lobbying Blitz

According to Open Secrets, IPAA, API, ExxonMobilAmerica’s Natural Gas Alliance (ANGA), ConocoPhillips and private equity firm KKR — employer of former head of the CIA David Petraeus — all deployed lobbyists to ensure passage of the BLM Permit Processing Improvement Act, now Section 3021 in the NDAA of 2015.

In quarter two and three, KKR deployed Akin Gump’s Ryan Thompson, chief-of-staff for climate change denier U.S. Sen. James Inhofe (R-OKbetween 2002-2010, to lobby for the bill.  A self-described ”mini oil and gas company,” the New York City-headquartered KKR owns numerous oil and gas assets in North Dakota’s Bakken Shale basin.

Warren Buffett‘s Berkshire Hathaway Energy, formerly known as MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company and owned by his holding company Berkshire Hathaway, also lobbied for the bill.  Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF), owned by Berkshire Hathaway, is a major carrier of Bakken crude-by-rail.

Pilot Project Lifts Off

One of the original Senate-side co-sponsors of the BLM Permit Processing Improvement Act was U.S. Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND), who has also also served as a ringleader of other efforts to expedite permitting for fracking on public lands.  First elected to the Senate in 2010, before which he was the Governor of North Dakota, the oil and gas industry has given Hoeven close to $325,000 in contributions since his preliminary Senate run.

In 2013, a bill he sponsored — the BLM Streamlining Act — passed by Congress with only one dissenting vote between both chambers combined. It was signed into law by President Obama on the day after Christmas.

That Streamlining Act created a pilot project for expedited permitting of fracking on public lands in the Bakken Shale. It was lobbied for by ExxonMobil,KKR, Marathon Oil, Chesapeake Energy and IPAA, among others.

By comparison, the BLM Permit Processing Improvement Act of 2014 and now its equivalent Section 3021 in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2015, expedites permitting of fracking on all public lands.

NDAA 2015 Fracking Public Lands

Image Credit: U.S. Government Printing Office

Hoeven had previously attempted to pass a bill to streamline fracking permitting on BLM public lands and “recognize the primacy of States,” calling it the Empower States Act of 2013.  That bill was lobbied for by both ExxonMobil and API.

White House Help: Heather Zichal

The Obama White House has also long shown interest in the expedited permitting approach for fracking, portending a likely looming sign-off on the bill.

Beyond signing the BLM Streamlining Act into law on December 26, 2013, President Obama also authorized Executive Orders in March 2012 and May 2013 calling on streamlined permitting of all energy infrastructure projects.

During her time as Obama White House top energy and climate aide, Heather Zichal — now on the Board of Directors for fracked gas exporting company Cheniere — oversaw the signing of an April 2012 Executive Order mandating creation of an interagency working group to streamline regulatory oversight for fracking in the U.S.

Heather Zichal; Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Zichal also laid the groundwork for lack of transparency on injection of fracking chemicals into the ground on U.S. public lands, bringing the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) approach for chemical transparency to the BLM.  Before inserting the provision into the BLM draft rules currently being finalized, Zichal “huddled” with the industry numerous times.

Zichal met more than 20 times in 2012 with industry groups and company executives lobbying on the proposed rule,” reported EnergyWire. “Among them were the American Petroleum Institute (API) and the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA), along with BP America Inc., Devon Energy Corp. and Exxon Mobil Corp.”

Protect Our Public Lands Act

Despite obvious extreme odds stacked against them, two members of the U.S.House Progressive Caucus — with the support of Food and Water Watch and several other progressive groups — have introduced a bill to ban fracking on U.S. public lands.

Sponsored by U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI) and U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), the two-page Protect Our Public Lands Act ”prohibit[s] the lessee from conducting any activity under the lease for the purpose of hydraulic fracturing.”

Schakowsky-Portrait-2013

U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky; Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

“We owe it to our children and grandchildren, and their children and grandchildren, to ensure the protection of public lands,” said Schakowsky of her support for the legislation. “This bill — in banning fracking on those lands — helps us follow through on that important promise.”

But only one thing can really receive a promise in this case: public interest groups are in a David vs. Goliath fight. And Goliath, clearly, is well-organized and well-mobilized on the issue as 2014 comes to a close.

 

Monster Wells: Despite Drought, Hundreds of Fracking Sites Used More Than 10 Million Gallons of Water

Monster Wells

Despite Drought, Hundreds of Fracking Sites Used More Than 10 Million Gallons of Water

By Soren Rundquist, Landscape and Remote Sensing Analyst & Bill Walker, Consultant
Former EWG Staff Attorney Briana Dema and former EWG Stanbeck Intern Elizabeth Kerpon contributed to this report.


When it’s confronted with the growing concern about the vast volumes of water used in hydraulic fracturing of gas and oil wells, industry tries to dodge the question.

The American Petroleum Institute (API) points out that drilling wells with hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling technology, commonly called “fracking,” consumes far less water than other commonplace activities such as raising livestock, irrigating crops or even watering golf courses. According to the Institute, the amount of water used to frack one natural gas well “typically is the equivalent of three to six Olympic swimming pools.”1

That amounts to 2-to-4 million gallons per well of a precious and, in many parts of the country, increasingly scarce resource.2 For its part, the Environmental Protection Agency says it takes “fifty thousand to 350,000 gallons to frack one well in a coal bed formation, while two-to-five million gallons of water may be necessary to fracture one horizontal well in a shale formation.”3

But data reported and verified by the industry itself reveal that those “typical” amounts are hardly the upper limit. An analysis by Environmental Working Group reveals that hundreds of fracked gas and oil wells across the country are monster wells that required 10 million to almost 25 million gallons of water each.

Between April 2010 and December 2013 (the latest figures available), data from the industry-operated website FracFocus.org, acquired by Skytruth.org, show that there were 261 wells fracked with at least 10 million gallons of water each (Table 1). EWG’s analysis found:

  • It took a grand total of more than 3.3 billion gallons of water to frack the 261 wells – an average of 12.7 million gallons each. Fourteen used more than 20 million gallons each.
  • About two-thirds of the wells, requiring a total of about 2.1 billion gallons, were in drought-stricken areas.

It’s far more relevant to compare those figures to basic human needs for water, rather than to swimming pools or golf courses. The 3.3 billion gallons consumed by the monster wells was almost twice as much water as is needed each year by the people of Atascosa County, Texas, in the heart of the Eagle Ford shale formation, one of the most intensively drilled gas and oil fields in the country.4 Like almost all of the Lone Star State, Atascosa County, south of San Antonio, is in a severe and prolonged drought. Last year, the state water agency cited oil and gas exploration and production as a factor in the dramatic drop of groundwater levels in the aquifer underlying the Eagle Ford formation.

Fracking fluid used by gas and oil drilling companies is a mixture of water, chemicals and sand, which is injected into rock formations deep underground to open up hard-to-reach oil and gas deposits. Fracking fluids typically are more than 95 percent water.

Most of that is fresh water from surface or ground water sources, although brackish water, treated wastewater and recycled fracking water previously are also used in some areas. Some companies have also used alternative fluids such as liquid propane or butane, but these alternatives are rare.

EWG matched data from FracFocus with the drought status of all 261 monster well locations at the time each one was drilled, as tracked by the U.S. Drought Monitor,6 a project of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska.

The data show that about two-thirds were drilled in areas beset by drought or abnormally dry conditions and used more than 2.1 billion gallons of water. About one-third were located in areas of severe, extreme or exceptional drought.

Map

Click HERE to go to interactive map

The impact on water supplies does not end once the well is fracked. If 10 million gallons of water are injected into a well, millions of gallons of contaminated water come back up. It has to go somewhere.

According to the EPA, 10- to-70 percent percent of the water used for fracking returns to the surface,7 and it can contain high levels of salts, metals, radioactive contaminants and toxic chemicals. It generally cannot be reused without treatment. Because of the high costs and technological challenges of treating this water, most of it is instead re-injected into deep underground wells for permanent disposal.8 But it often doesn’t stay there.

In 2012, an investigation by journalists at the non-profit ProPublica found that disposal wells “have repeatedly leaked, sending dangerous chemicals and waste gurgling to the surface or, on occasion, seeping into shallow aquifers that store a significant portion of the nation’s drinking water.” ProPublica quoted a former EPA expert on underground disposal wells who said: “In 10 to 100 years we are going to find out that most of our groundwater is polluted.” 9

In August of this year, Stanford University researchers reported that in Wyoming, drillers are fracking at “far shallower depths than widely believed, sometimes through underground sources of drinking water,”10increasing the risk of contaminating water supplies with fracking fluids.

To read the rest of the story, click on EACH PAGE below:

Texas Town Went Dry

Industry Website is Flawed and Incomplete

The Biggest Monster Wells

Where Monster Wells Were Drilled

Six Companies Drilled Monster Wells

Monster Wells Are Common in Drought Areas

Conclusion and Recommendations

References

Waste Water from Oil Fracking Injected into Clean Aquifers

I repeat, wild horses being driven to extinction by the BLM is the canary in the coal mine of what is happening on America’s public lands and to America’s water.  –  Debbie Coffey

SOURCE:  nbcbayarea.com

In a time when California faces an historic drought, the NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit has uncovered that state officials allowed oil and gas companies to pump billions of gallons of waste water into protected aquifers. Investigative Reporter Stephen Stock reports in a story that aired on November 14, 2014.

State officials allowed oil and gas companies to pump nearly three billion gallons of waste water into underground aquifers that could have been used for drinking water or irrigation.

Those aquifers are supposed to be off-limits to that kind of activity, protected by the EPA.

“It’s inexcusable,” said Hollin Kretzmann, at the Center for Biological Diversity in San Francisco. “At (a) time when California is experiencing one of the worst droughts in history, we’re allowing oil companies to contaminate what could otherwise be very useful ground water resources for irrigation and for drinking. It’s possible these aquifers are now contaminated irreparably.”

California’s Department of Conservation’s Chief Deputy Director, Jason Marshall, told NBC Bay Area, “In multiple different places of the permitting process an error could have been made.”

“There have been past issues where permits were issued to operators that they shouldn’t be injecting into those zones and so we’re fixing that,” Marshall added.

In “fracking” or hydraulic fracturing operations, oil and gas companies use massive amounts of water to force the release of underground fossil fuels. The practice produces large amounts of waste water that must then be disposed of.

Marshall said that often times, oil and gas companies simply re-inject that waste water back deep underground where the oil extraction took place. But other times, Marshall said, the waste water is re-injected into aquifers closer to the surface. Those injections are supposed to go into aquifers that the EPA calls “exempt”—in other words, not clean enough for humans to drink or use.

Read EPA’s letter to state regulators

But in the State’s letter to the EPA, officials admit that in at least nine waste water injection wells, the waste water was injected into “non-exempt” or clean aquifers containing high quality water.

For the EPA, “non-exempt” aquifers are underground bodies of water that are “containing high quality water” that can be used by humans to drink, water animals or irrigate crops.

Are Regulators Ignoring California’s New Fracking Law?

If the waste water re-injection well “went into a non-exempt aquifer. It should not have been permitted,” said Marshall.

The department ended up shutting down 11 wells: the nine that were known to be injecting into non-exempt aquifers, and another two in an abundance of caution.

In its reply letter to the EPA, California’s Water Resources Control Board said its “staff identified 108 water supply wells located within a one-mile radius of seven…injection wells” and that The Central Valley Water Board conducted sampling of “eight water supply wells in the vicinity of some of these… wells.”

“This is something that is going to slowly contaminate everything we know around here,” said fourth- generation Kern County almond grower Tom Frantz, who lives down the road from several of the injection wells in question.

According to state records, as many as 40 water supply wells, including domestic drinking wells, are located within one mile of a single well that’s been injecting into non-exempt aquifers.

That well is located in an area with several homes nearby, right in the middle of a citrus grove southeast of Bakersfield.

This well is one of nine that were known to be injecting waste water into “non-exempt” aquifers. It’s located just east of Bakersfield.

State records show waste water from several sources, including from the oil and gas industry, has gone into the aquifer below where 60 different water supply wells are located within a one mile radius.

READ THE REST OF THIS STORY HERE.

Plan to lease Santa Fe National Forest for oil and gas drilling risks community health and cultural resources

SOURCE: enewspf.com

Litigation Prepared to Challenge Illegal 20,000 Acre Public Lands Lease

Santa Fe, NM—(ENEWSPF)—October 20, 2014. A broad coalition of local and national conservation groups announced plans to sue the Bureau of Land Management (“BLM”), if the agency proceeds with the sale of 13 parcels (almost 20,000 acres of public lands) in the Santa Fe National Forest for oil and gas fracking. BLM received more than a hundred letters protesting the sale and challenging the agency’s failure to consider potentially serious impacts to the area’s air, water, wildlife, and surrounding communities.

The leases would allow horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) of the Santa Fe National Forest, a prospect that BLM has never studied. In fact, BLM has admitted that its current resource management plan governing drilling activities, finalized in 2003, is outdated and no longer able serve this essential function.

“In a rush to satisfy the demands of the oil and gas industry, BLM is ignoring its fundamental legal obligations and circumventing the underlying oil and gas drilling planning process,” said Kyle Tisdel, attorney with the Western Environmental Law Center. “There is broad commitment from groups to go to court if necessary to ensure our treasured landscapes are not destroyed.”

“BLM has already leased 94% of our public lands around the Farmington area for oil and gas drilling,” said Mike Eisenfeld, New Mexico Energy Coordinator for San Juan Citizens Alliance. “This new lease sale on the Santa Fe National Forest would continue this reckless, lease-everywhere mentality that destroys recreation, wildlife, and cultural resources and ignores BLM’s responsibilities to honestly analyze impacts.”

“Oil and gas drilling these days is significantly different than that of only 11 years ago,” said Pete Dronkers, Southwest Circuit Rider for Earthworks.  “The wells are bigger, go deeper and for miles in every direction. They release far more hazardous waste into the air and water.  BLM has to study these newer impacts before it permits further drilling in the San Juan Basin.”

The lease sale is scheduled for 9:00 a.m., on Wednesday, October 22, 2014 at the BLM New Mexico State Office in Santa Fe.

The coalition of conservation groups is represented by Western Environmental Law Center, and includes: Amigos Bravos, Chaco Alliance, Earthworks, Rio Arriba Concerned Citizens, San Juan Citizens Alliance, and WildEarth Guardians.

BLM Stoops To Low Bargain Basement Fees for Public Lands

I thought it was bad enough when the BLM was charging $2 an acre for oil and gas leases, but now I see (from the Elko Daily news article below) that the BLM is leasing public lands for bargain basement fees of $1.50 an acre.  And for NONCOMPETITIVE geothermal leases, it’s only $1 an acre for 10 years!  What will the BLM do next?  Just tell these bidders to set out their lawn chairs and take whatever public lands they want?  (Oh wait, they just about do that now, since the bidders tell the BLM what parcels they want them to nominate.)

And it seems like only yesterday that the BLM Elko District was crying about the DROUGHT.

Let’s take a look at this equation:

We’re running out of water because there’s a severe drought + BLM leases public lands for pennies to “uses” that use LOTS of water + blame everything on the wild horses & burros and get rid of them = BLM “management” of public lands is ______ (you fill in the blank, but please don’t use swear words on the blog).

Anyhow, if you look at the BLM’s PUBLIC LAND STATISTICS for 2013, you’ll get a look at the bigger picture.

Besides the fact that the title of the article below refers to public lands as “BLM Land,” the links in the article don’t work, but you can go HERE to look at the Elko District oil & gas leases and HERE to look at the geothermal leases.

SOURCE:  elkodaily.com

BLM to Auction BLM Land in Elko for Oil Exploration

RENO — More than 64,000 acres of public land in the Elko District are up for bid in a competitive oil and gas lease sale 9 a.m. today at the Bureau of Land Management state office, 1340 Financial Blvd., Reno.

The BLM will include 44 parcels for lease. Registration and assignment of bidding numbers begin at 8 a.m.

The BLM offers quarterly oil and gas sales. The last Elko District sale on March 12, 2013, generated more than $1.2 million with the sale of 31 parcels covering more than 38,000 acres.

A second oil and gas sale will take place after, for 29 parcels in the Winnemucca and Carson City districts.

Parcels are nominated by industry representatives in advance of a sale.  The BLM reviews each parcel for any resource conflicts, which can result in stipulations placed on the parcel, deferral or partial deferral.

A complete summary of the parcels to be offered, GIS shapefiles and other documents related to the oil and gas sales are available online at http://on.doi.gov/1oXmCgT.

Oil and gas leases are for 10-year periods with annual rentals of $1.50 per acre for the first five years and $2 per acre after that until production begins.

Once a lease is producing, a royalty of 12.5 percent is charged.  Half of the bid and rental receipts go to the state.

Geothermal Lease

The BLM will have a competitive geothermal lease sale Wednesday at the BLM state office.

Registration begins at 8 a.m. and the sale begins at 9.  The sale includes two parcels in Nevada totaling more than 3,400 acres.  One parcel is located on the Winnemucca District, the second is located in the Carson City District.

There will also be five parcels located in Oregon.

Geothermal leases are for a 10-year period.  Annual rental for a competitive lease is $2 per acre for the first year, and $3 per acre until year 10.

Annual rental for a noncompetitive lease is $1 per acre for up to 10 years.

Additional environmental analysis would need to be conducted to receive permits to drill or build a facility to develop the energy from the geothermal source.

A complete summary of the parcels to be offered, GIS shapefiles and other documents related to the geothermal lease sale are available at http://on.doi.gov/1qCHSsY.

Fracking depleting water supplies in driest areas

When the BLM issues Environmental Assessments or Drought plans to round up wild horses because there’s not enough water or forage, or ranchers complain about the 20 gallons of water per day that a wild horse may drink, be sure to check out the oil and gas leases and oil and gas lease maps for that BLM District. – Debbie Coffey

SOURCE: theguardian.com

Fracking is depleting water supplies in America’s driest areas, report shows

From Texas to California, drilling for oil and gas is using billions of gallons of water in the country’s most drought-prone areas

by Suzanne Goldenberg, US environment correspondent  Feb. 5, 2014

Aerial of Fracking Drill Shale Sites in Colorado
An aerial photograph shows a large field of fracking sites in a north-western Colorado valley. It can take millions of gallons of fresh water to frack a single well. Photograph: Susan Heller/Getty images

America’s oil and gas rush is depleting water supplies in the driest and most drought-prone areas of the country, from Texas to California, new research has found.

Of the nearly 40,000 oil and gas wells drilled since 2011, three-quarters were located in areas where water is scarce, and 55% were in areas experiencing drought, the report by the Ceres investor network found.

Fracking those wells used 97bn gallons of water, raising new concerns about unforeseen costs of America’s energy rush.

“Hydraulic fracturing is increasing competitive pressures for water in some of the country’s most water-stressed and drought-ridden regions,” said Mindy Lubber, president of the Ceres green investors’ network.

Without new tougher regulations on water use, she warned industry could be on a “collision course” with other water users.

“It’s a wake-up call,” said Prof James Famiglietti, a hydrologist at the University of California, Irvine.  “We understand as a country that we need more energy but it is time to have a conversation about what impacts there are, and do our best to try to minimise any damage.”

It can take millions of gallons of fresh water to frack a single well, and much of the drilling is tightly concentrated in areas where water is in chronically short supply, or where there have been multi-year droughts.

Half of the 97bn gallons of water was used to frack wells in Texas, which has experienced severe drought for years – and where production is expected to double over the next five years.

Shortage of water and fracking in Texas
Large hoses run from hydraulic fracturing drill sites in Midland, Texas. Fracking uses huge amounts water to free oil and natural gas trapped deep in underground rocks. With fresh water not as plentiful, companies have been looking for ways to recycle their waste. Photograph: Pat Sullivan/AP

Farming and cities are still the biggest users of water, the report found.  But it warned the added demand for fracking in the Eagle Ford, at the heart of the Texas oil and gas rush, was hitting small, rural communities hard.

“Shale producers are having significant impacts at the county level, especially in smaller rural counties with limited water infrastructure capacity,” the report said.  “With water use requirements for shale producers in the Eagle Ford already high and expected to double in the coming 10 years, these rural counties can expect severe water stress challenges in the years ahead.”

Local aquifer levels in the Eagle Ford formation have dropped by up to 300ft over the last few years.

A number of small communities in Texas oil and gas country have already run out of water or are in danger of running out of water in days, pushed to the brink by a combination of drought and high demand for water for fracking.

Twenty-nine communities across Texas could run out of water in 90 days, according to the Texas commission on environmental quality.  Many reservoirs in west Texas are at only 25% capacity.

Nearly all of the wells in Colorado (97%) were located in areas where most of the ground and surface water is already stretched between farming and cities, the report said.  It said water demand for fracking in the state was expected to double to 6bn gallons by 2015 – or about twice as much as the entire city of Boulder uses in a year.

In California, where a drought emergency was declared last month, 96% of new oil and gas wells were located in areas where there was already fierce competition for water.

The pattern holds for other regions caught up in the oil and gas rush.  Most of the wells in New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming were also located in areas of high water stress, the report said.

Shale gas and water use in the US

Picture_131
Source: Ceres

Some oil and gas producers were beginning to recycle water, especially in the Marcellus shale in Pennsylvania, the report said.  But it said those savings were too little to offset the huge demand for water for fracking in the coming years.

BLM Digs Deeper Into Man-Made Drought

SOURCE:  PPJ Gazette

By Debbie Coffey    Copyright 2013        All Rights Reserved.

During a proclaimed drought across much of the West, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in the Ely District of Nevada is offering up 399,873 acres of public lands for oil & gas lease sales.

This is being done even though “Fracking requires enormous quantities of water.  Estimates put water usage at between 3 and 5 million gallons per fracking of a single well, and each well can be fracked several times.”

The BLM issued an Environmental Assessment (EA) to lease these 399,873 acres June 28, 2013, only a month after issuing an EA to remove wild horses because “there is insufficient vegetation or water to maintain the wild horses’ health and well being.”

If there isn’t enough water for wild horses, how can there possibly be enough water for oil & gas exploration and development? Where is the water going to come from?

The map below shows the oil & gas lease sale parcel areas in red, and some of the wild horse Herd Management Areas (HMAs), including Triple B (Buck-Bald & Butte), Antelope, Maverick-Medicine and Antelope Valley (which includes the Dolly Varden Range).

Scan_Pic0079

Now, take a look at these same HMAs below, with the red oil & gas lease sale area, including some of the groundwater basins in blue.

Scan_Pic0080

(Even though the red area may look small, there is a potential for a water drawdown and risk of water contamination over the area of the entire groundwater basin.  And, there is inter-flow between basins.)

The map below shows a Grazing Allotment map, along with an outline of the wild horse HMAs and the oil & gas lease areas in red.

Scan_Pic0082

Scientific American published an article regarding fracking wastewater wells, stating “Over the past several decades, U.S. industries have injected more than 30 trillion gallons of toxic liquid deep into the earth, using broad expanses of the nation’s geology as an invisible dumping ground.”

Many ranchers have been pushing for the removal of wild horses, seeing them as competition to their grazing interests.  In reality, the ranchers’ biggest competition is, and will be, from water guzzling uses like oil & gas extraction and mining.  If there is less water, there is less forage.

Even during the drought, the BLM is approving the expansion of existing mines and the opening of new mines.

Just one mine in Nevada (Barrick Gold’s Goldstrike Mine) has pumped over 383 BILLION gallons of water from an aquifer. Nearly 10 million gallons of water a day is draining away from the driest state in the nation. (Kirk Johnson, New York Times).

Mining drops the water table and dries up streams and seeps.

In 2010, the BLM gave the green light to the expansion of the Bald Mountain Mine within the Triple B Herd Management Area (HMA), even knowing the mine caused mercury in the watershed and higher levels of arsenic in the surface water.

The U.S. is still using the General Mining Law of 1872.   Senator Harry Reid has been “instrumental in blocking efforts to reform the archaic General Mining Law of 1872, a legal blank check” that “allowed miners to take an estimated $408 billion worth of gold and other hard rock minerals from public lands without paying a single cent in royalties…”

“Before Congress banned the practice in 1994, Toronto-based Barrick Gold paid just $9,765 for 1,950 acres in Nevada that held an estimated $10 billion in gold.”

To make one gold wedding band, about 20 tons of earth must be excavated.  Yet, when the BLM issues an EA to roundup wild horses, they show photos like the one below of the supposed “severe use” of the land by wild horses.

Scan_Pic0083

Do you think the BLM ever shows photos of a quarter or a pen next to a big mining pit or next to an oil derrick?

The reason the wild horses are facing dehydration and death right now is because of a man-made drought, caused by the BLM’s mismanagement of public lands.   Uses that make the most money are being fast tracked, no matter what the consequences, even though this is a blatant violation of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act.

“Scientists warned that as the Great Basin’s groundwater is drained, desert springs and seeps will dry up, farms and ranches will wither away, and plants and wildlife will die off.   The aquifer, which took millennia to fill, will run out.”

Soon, there won’t be wild horses left on public lands.  There also won’t be farming, ranching, hunting or fishing.  There just won’t be enough water. This is the “Industrialization of the West.”  Unless you do what you can to stop it.

Send your comments on the proposed lease sale by July 29, 2013 to the Ely District Office, by email to blm_nv_eydo_dec2013ogsale@blm.gov

The Environmental Assessment for the upcoming Dec. 2013 oil & gas lease sale: https://www.blm.gov/epl-front-office/projects/nepa/36744/43653/46903/PRELIM_EA_-_EYDO_Oil_&_Gas_Lease_Sale_Dec._2013.pdf

To Learn More:

“Is Fracking Behind Contamination of Wyoming Groundwater?” http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=is-fracking-behind-contamination-in-wyoming-groundwater

“The BLM Overlooks Arsenic & Mercury, but Gets Rid of Wild Horses” http://rtfitchauthor.com/2012/06/28/blm-overlooks-arsenic-mercury-but-gets-rid-of-wild-horses/

“The Mining of our Aquifers” http://ppjg.me/2010/07/28/the-mining-of-our-aquifers/

“Chinese Government Money is Buying on of USA’s Biggest Mines” http://ppjg.me/2010/12/07/chinese-government-money-is-buying-one-of-u-s-a-%E2%80%99s-biggest-mines/

“Senator Reid is Working Hard, but for Whom?” http://www.libertynewsonline.com/article_301_29167.php

SOURCES:

http://ecowatch.com/2013/record-drought-frackers-outcompete-farmers-water/

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=are-fracking-wastewater-wells-poisoning-ground-beneath-our-feeth&WT.mc_id=SA_emailfriend

“Harry Reid, Gold Member: Is Our Senator in bed with America’s worst polluter?” by Josh Harkinson (2/24/09) Mother Jones http://motherjones.com/environment/2009/02/harry-reid-gold-member

New York Times “Drier, Tainted Nevada May Be Legacy of Gold Rush” by Kirk Johnson (12/30/05) http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/30/national/30gold.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

http://www.blm.gov/pgdata/etc/medialib/blm/nv/field_offices/elko_field_office/information/nepa/eas/triple_b_water_haul.Par.93691.File.dat/Three_HMA_EA.pdf

https://www.blm.gov/epl-front-office/projects/nepa/36744/43653/46903/PRELIM_EA_-_EYDO_Oil_&_Gas_Lease_Sale_Dec._2013.pdf