Saturday, July 30, 2011

SEC asking Industry for records on claims of long term productivity

The SEC wants proof that gas wells will continue to produce for decades. Last night while channel surfing, I came across a segment on Fox News. The host mentioned how the New York Times had a reporter out to get the industry. Well sounds like that reporter, Ian Urbina, may have been dead on with his article about the future of natural gas.
Texas Sharon gives more details. Click here to go to her new website.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Industry downplays benefit of tighter ozone standards

It didn't take long for the industry to get their panties in a bunch about the EPA's proposed air pollution standards for gas and oil production. Anyone surprised the industry is trying to downplay the EPA statements about the benefits of tighter ozone requirements? It's all about money folks! 

They don't think our health has value.

Click here for the article.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

EPA Proposes Air Pollution Standards for Oil and Gas Production

Hallelujah. There is hope for cleaner air in the future!!
See press release from the EPA


July 28. 2011

EPA Proposes Air Pollution Standards for Oil and Gas Production

Cost-effective, flexible standards rely on operators' ability to capture and sell natural gas that currently escapes, threatens air quality

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today proposed standards to reduce harmful air pollution from oil and gas drilling operations. These proposed updated standards - which are being issued in response to a court order - would rely on cost-effective existing technologies to reduce emissions that contribute to smog pollution and can cause cancer while supporting the administration’s priority of continuing to expand safe and responsible domestic oil and gas production. The standards would leverage operators' ability to capture and sell natural gas that currently escapes into the air, resulting in more efficient operations while reducing harmful emissions that can impact air quality in surrounding areas and nearby states.

"This administration has been clear that natural gas is a key component of our clean energy future, and the steps announced today will help ensure responsible production of this domestic energy source," said Gina McCarthy, assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Air and Radiation. "Reducing these emissions will help cut toxic pollution that can increase cancer risks and smog that can cause asthma attacks and premature death - all while giving these operators additional product to bring to market.”

Today’s proposal would cut smog-forming volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions from several types of processes and equipment used in the oil and gas industry, including a 95 percent reduction in VOCs emitted during the completion of new and modified hydraulically fractured wells. This dramatic reduction would largely be accomplished by capturing natural gas that currently escapes to the air and making that gas available for sale through technologies and processes already in use by several companies and required in some states.

Natural gas production in the U.S. is growing, with more than 25,000 new and existing wells fractured or re-fractured each year. The VOC reductions in the proposal are expected to help reduce ozone nonattainment problems in many areas where oil and gas production occurs. In addition, the VOC reductions would yield a significant environmental benefit by reducing methane emissions from new and modified wells. Methane, the primary constituent of natural gas, is a potent greenhouse gas - more than 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Today’s proposed changes also would reduce cancer risks from emissions of several air toxics, including benzene.

EPA’s analysis of the proposed changes, which also include requirements for storage tanks and other equipment, show they are highly cost-effective, with a net savings to the industry of tens of millions of dollars annually from the value of natural gas that would no longer escape to the air. Today’s proposal includes reviews of four air regulations for the oil and natural gas industry as required by the Clean Air Act: a new source performance standard for VOCs from equipment leaks at gas processing plants; a new source performance standard for sulfur dioxide emissions from gas processing plants; an air toxics standard for oil and natural gas production; and an air toxics standard for natural gas transmission and storage.

EPA is under a consent decree requiring the agency to sign a proposal by July 28, 2011 and take final action by Feb. 28, 2012. As part of the public comment period, EPA will hold three public hearings, in the Dallas, Denver and Pittsburgh areas. Details on the hearings will be announced soon.

More information:

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Barnett Shale Map shows massive increase of wells drilled.

From 1997 to 2009, the number of natural gas wells has grown from a few hundred to over 10,000. Included in the article is an animated map showing the massive increase of wells on the Barnett Shale.

The black dots on the map are the vertical wells.You can see that most of the wells drilled before 2003 were vertical. The red dots indicate horizontal wells. The number of the horizontal wells grew after 2003.

Be sure to click on the map.
Click here for article.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Flower Mound Town Council, the Oil and Gas Advisory Board and the Petition Ordinance: The Real Facts

The email was forwarded to us by Flower Mound Council Member Filidoro

The Flower Mound Town Council, the Oil and Gas Advisory Board and the Petition Ordinance: The Real Facts

In the spring of 2010, more than 6,000 Town residents signed a petition and submitted a draft ordinance for the Flower Mound Town Council to consider a moratorium on permits for centralized natural gas facilities and natural gas pipelines. After more than a year of detailed review by the Town’s Oil and Gas Advisory Board and the Town Council, on July 18, 2011, the Town Council adopted comprehensive new ordinances addressing natural gas drilling in the Town as well as new standards for natural gas pipelines. Additionally, the Town Council repealed the centralized natural gas facilities zoning ordinance, approved by the previous council in January 2010. Despite the sweeping new changes to the face of natural gas drilling operations in the Town, over the last several weeks, a few Town residents have complained that the Flower Mound Town Council was not “committed to executing the petition mandate” and that last year’s petition was “hijacked” and “used for political agendas.” An objective review of the facts shows, however, that every portion of the 2010 petition was fully honored and that the current Town Council’s actions in all respects were in compliance with the petition ordinance.

What specifically did the 2010 petition ordinance mandate, and how did this Town Council respond?

1. Section 2(A) of the petition ordinance provided that “the acceptance and processing of applications for oil and gas and/or produced water pipeline permits . . . are hereby temporarily suspended, effective immediately upon passage of this Ordinance.” Similarly, Section 2(B) of the petition ordinance provided that “the acceptance and processing of applications for Specific Use Permits . . . for the construction of any “Centralized Natural Gas Compression Facility,” “Centralized Natural Gas Lift Facility,” or “Centralized Natural Gas Produced Water Storage Facility” . . . are hereby temporarily suspended, effective immediately upon passage of this Ordinance.”

The Town Council’s Response: On June 7, 2010, the Town Council approved Ordinance No. 38-10, which ordinance adopted the petition ordinance in its entirety, including the moratoriums referenced in Sections 2(A) and 2(B) of the petition ordinance.

2. Section 2(C) of the petition ordinance provided that “the aforesaid suspensions shall continue in effect until the completion of the review process and Council action upon any regulatory amendments found to be appropriate, provided such suspension shall terminate 180 [days] after the passage of this Ordinance unless the Town Council has not then completed its review and acted upon any amendments to such regulations. In that event the suspension shall be extended once for a period of sixty days by action of the Town Council.”

The Town Council’s Response: Town Ordinance No. 38-10 adopted the language contained in Section 2(C) of the petition ordinance.

3. Section 3(A) of the petition ordinance provided for the appointment of a 12-member Oil and Gas Advisory Board within 30 days of the adoption of the ordinance (Section 3(A)). The OGAB was to consist of (i) 8 Town property owners, some of whom owned their minerals and some of whom did not (Section 3(A)(1)) and (ii) 4 members who are “mineral lessors, independent experts . . . and a third party mediator without any financial or professional ties to the Town of Flower Mound or the oil and gas industry” (Section 3(A)(2)).

The Town Council’s Response: On July 6, 2010, the Town Council appointed 12 members to the OGAB and 4 alternates also were named, all in compliance with Section 3(A) of the petition ordinance.

4. Section 3(B) of the petition ordinance provided that “the Board shall conduct public hearings to identify the concerns of the citizens of the Town regarding (1) Centralized Natural Gas Compression Facilities, Centralized Natural Gas Lift Facilities, and Centralized Natural Gas Produced Water Facilities . . . and (2) oil and gas and/or produced water pipelines.” Section 3(C) of the petition ordinance required at least one public hearing on the OGAB’s findings relative to centralized facilities and oil and gas pipelines as well as recommendations “as to any amendments to the Code of Ordinances of the Town.”

The Town Council’s Response: The OGAB held multiple public hearings to solicit citizen input. After an extensive number of meetings throughout the late summer and fall of 2010, the OGAB presented its preliminary report to the Town Council on January 20, 2011. Additional public hearings were held on February 10 and February 12, 2011, to solicit further citizen comments on the proposed OGAB recommendations. The OGAB’s Final Recommendations were presented to the Town Council on February 28, 2011, and were discussed at the March 21, 2011, Town Council meeting. At that time, since several OGAB members considered there were additional outstanding items, a public comment period was designated from April 1 to April 18, and two additional public comment meetings were held on April 7 and April 12, 2011. After the presentation of draft ordinances, the Town Council held public hearings on June 20, 2011, and July 18, 2011.

5. The second Section 3(B) in the petition ordinance (there were two sections numbered 3(B) in the petition ordinance) provided that “upon completion of such public hearings, the Board shall assess the Town’s existing ordinances regulating centralized processing facilities and oil and gas pipelines with the objectives of (1) addressing the concerns of the citizens identified in public hearings; (2) recognizing any appropriate restrictions on the location of such facilities and pipelines and (3) balancing the rights of surface owners with rights of mineral rights owners while preserving the integrity of Flower Mound’s Master Plan and Smart Growth principles. Other factors which may be considered are impacts on the following: economic development, tax receipts, property values, air quality surface and subsurface water flows. Particular matters may be delegated to appropriate boards and commissions and/or staff to develop recommendations for referral back to the Board and/or Town Council.”

The Town Council’s Response: The oil and gas drilling and pipeline ordinances adopted on July 18, 2011, addressed all of the expressed concerns. Several matters were delegated to Town staff to address through the retention of experts (Integra and Kleinfelder, for example) in a comprehensive overhaul of the Town’s natural gas ordinances. Specific references were made to such studies and the topics referenced in Section 3(B) of the petition ordinance.

6. Section 3(D) of the petition ordinance provided that “the Council may expand the scope of the review as it deems appropriate.”

The Town Council’s Response: In adopting Ordinance No.39-10 (also on June 7, 2010), the Town Council extended the moratorium to include all permits related to natural gas drilling in the Town above and beyond the moratorium referenced in the petition ordinance. The Council also made detailed findings that oil and natural gas exploration, drilling and operations involve or otherwise impact the Town’s environment, infrastructure and related public health, welfare and safety matters, including noise issues, road repair issues due to use of heavy equipment, site security and signage issues, issues related to operating hours, venting of gas, fire suppression issues, lighting issues, containment systems, hazardous materials management, spill issues, operator insurance issues, environmental impairment matters and other regulatory issues. That ordinance also provided that due to the many issues related to oil and natural gas exploration, drilling and operations, “the Town is in the process of studying those issues and formulating modified regulations to address the multitudinous land usage, environmental and public health, welfare and safety matters related to such exploration, drilling and operations.” At that June 7 meeting, several residents stated that it was prudent to review the oil and gas ordinances and that increased setbacks were necessary.

After reviewing the petition ordinance in detail—according to its exact words—and comparing those words to the actions of this Town Council, how can anyone honestly contend that this Council did not “follow the requirements as they are clearly laid out in the petition ordinance” and that the petition ordinance “didn’t accomplish what it was written for”? This Council followed the petition ordinance line-by-line, section-by-section, and as result, with incredible diligence and hard work by the Advisory Board, Town staff and this Council, adopted outstanding new ordinances that are reflective of the values of Flower Mound, its residents, and all 6,000 voters who signed the petition in 2010.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

UPDATED: Flower Mound New Oil and Gas Ordinance gets some publicity

Here is a segment of the new ordinance on NBC 5. Click here

Newspaper articles:

Pegasus News click here. This one best described the reason for the repealing in its entirety and a zoning amendment that fired up residents and got them to back the petition. Now there will be a double layer of approval for any Centralized Collection Facilities and Centralized Compression Facilities.

Star Newspaper click here.

Dallas Morning News click here. Requires a subscription.

Cross Timbers Gazette click here. This also describeds the reason for the repeal.

We will update as we find more articles.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

My Flower Mound Oil and Gas Advisory Board Experience

Serving on boards really isn't a new thing for me. I have served on countless PTA Boards, Committees and HOA Boards. But the Oil and Gas Advisory Board was quite a different experience. The board was made up of many different members, each brought with them different perspectives, points of view and ideas. Our job was to ultimately come up with recommendations for the Flower Mound Oil and Gas Ordinance and Pipeline Ordinance. This meant sharing information and discussing ideas. It also meant that as board members, we had to decide as a majority what to eventually put into the recommendations.

We had mineral owners, non mineral owners, industry experts who were also residents of Flower Mound and one moderator. I can honestly say that not one member got everything they wanted, including me. That in no way discredits the recommendations we brought forth. If we all agreed on everything right from the beginning, then why bother with 12 members and 6 months of meetings?

I want to make it clear that I never felt manipulated by the Town Council. I believe it is an insult to assume that we, the advisory board members, are ignorant enough to allow someone to manipulate us. I keep hearing that we "didn't have experts." I realized I would be remiss to overlook the expertise of the members and residents on the board that work in the Oil and Gas industry. Their input proved to be a valuable tool.

Each member brought their knowledge, experience, and love for our community to the table. It was an honor to serve on the Advisory Board with my fellow members. I have the utmost respect and admiration for all of them. Looking back, I am pleased with the outcome and our recommendations. I am proud to say Flower Mound now has one of the strongest ordinances on the Barnett Shale and most likely the nation.
Tammi Vajda

Monday, July 18, 2011

Approved!!!! Flower Mound New Oil and Gas Ordinance

Earlier this evening, the Flower Mound Town Council voted to accept the new Oil and Gas Ordinance and Pipeline Ordinance. The vote went as follows for all items.

Council Members Filidoro, Lyda, Wise and Hayden voted in favor of accepting and adopting the new ordinances. Council Member Stephenson stated "present". We looked up what it means when a council member states "present" during a vote. We believe it means the same as abstain. Click here.

Here are the items.

9. Public Hearing to consider approval of an ordinance amending Chapter 34 of the Code of Ordinances by repealing existing Article VII, “Oil and Natural Gas Well Drilling and Production Operations,” and adopting a new Article VII, “Oil and Natural Gas Well Drilling and Production Operations.”
Passed 4-1 abstention

10. Public Hearing to consider approval of an ordinance amending Chapter 34 of the Code of Ordinances by repealing existing Article VIII, “Oil and Gas Pipeline Standards,” and adopting a new Article VIII, “Oil and Gas Pipeline Standards,” and adopting a new Article IX, “Vested rights/preemption determination.”
Passed 4-1 abstention

11. LDR 02-10 – Repeal of Zoning Ordinance Regarding Centralized Natural Gas Production Facilities
Public Hearing to consider an amendment to the Land Development Regulations (LDR 02-10) by amending Section 98-2 (Definitions), Section 98-273 (Agricultural District Specific Uses), and Section 98-952 (Use Classifications) to repeal the provisions contained in said sections related to Centralized Natural Gas Compression Facilities, Centralized Natural Gas Lift Facilities, and Centralized Natural Gas Produced Water Storage Facilities; and to consider adopting an ordinance providing for said amendment. (The Planning and Zoning Commission recommended approval by a vote of 7 to 0 at its July 11, 2011, meeting.)
Passed 4-1 abstention

Mandatory vapor recovery was not included in the ordinance. The town felt to "demand" it outright may not hold up in the court of law but put together an emission plan that they feel will accomplish better emission controls.

This ordinance received accolades from many experts and attorneys.

Jim Bradbury, who is an oil and gas attorney in Ft. Worth, who served on the FW drilling task force and who is a steering committee member for Texas OGAP called the ordinance “brilliant, exhaustive work.” He said the pipeline ordinance is “impressive and stout.” He said the task force did “a very thorough and good job.”

Bruce Baizel is the lead attorney for Earthworks’ OGAP. He said, “Overall, this is one of the strongest town ordinances I have reviewed.”

Many thanks to Sharon Wilson and Gary Hogan for showing up and speaking tonight.

Thanks to all the experts that reviewed the ordinance including the Texas Oil and Gas Accountability Project and Earthworks.

Thank you to all the advisory board members, including the industry experts on the board for your valuable input and information.

After close to 4 years of hard work, we are very happy to see stronger regulations in place. We are lucky to have elected officials in place that are willing to protect all residents. Whether you are a non mineral owner, a mineral owner that hasn't signed a lease or a mineral owner that has chosen to lease, the best drilling practices are in place to protect your health, safety and property values.

Click here to watch the video from the Town Council Meeting.

Friday, July 15, 2011

FMCAUD helps residents in Colleyville against Titan Operating Rule 37

Titan Operating has filed yet another Rule 37 against homeowners in Colleyville. This is Titan Operating’s second Rule 37 in Tarrant County, in addition to the two pending Rule 37’s in Flower Mound, and one scheduled for hearing in Lewisville.

Titan withdrew from another Rule 37 in Lewisville earlier this year. FMCAUD had committed to helping homeowners in all areas of North Texas protect their private property/mineral rights from confiscation by Titan Operating LLC. No matter what your opinions on other neighborhood gas drilling issues, the vast majority of Texans believe staunchly in individual private property rights. Rule 37’s are one of the most egregious threats to private property rights in Texas. Your only “choices” are to sign a lease against your will or likely have your property taken with no hearing to quantify and compensate you for the value of the property taken from you.

Approximately 1.6 million dollars of revenue is at stake. When there is that kind of money at risk, who wouldn't justify it with a little theft?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

UPDATED....EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson announced a strong new clean air rule

This is the first article we have found but I am sure there will be plenty.

Favorite paragraph from this article.

Texas, by contrast, will have to reduce more pollution than in the initial proposal, which required the state's power plants only to address summertime smog-forming pollution.

Click here for article but more info to come.

Here is an article in the New York Times. Click here.

Click here to read rule.

Friday, July 1, 2011

DFW Has A Gas Problem!! Sound off at the TCEQ DFW Smog Plan Hearing

Natural gas is the cleanest of all the fossil fuels...okay MAYBE (THATS A BIG MAYBE) to burn but certainly not when being extracted. The process uses millions of gallons of water that will never be returned to the water cycle. Many cases of contamination of water wells and sources are documented even though the industry continues to deny it.

The biggest issue facing North Texas is our air quality.

The industry and some of our state officials deny that the gas drilling process does not affect our air quality. The industry refuses to use vapor recover or emission control. Why? Because they don't have to. It is not mandated by state or federal government making it difficult for municipalities to demand it. On July 13th, the Fort Worth air study will be released. This could prove to be very important when it comes to enforcing vapor and emission control. Today, the Star Telegram reported that 68% of the gas well sites tested leak! Those conducting the study expected less than 25% to be leaking.
TXSharon has the article on her site. Click here to read.

Eat Up and Sound Off For Clean Air

Thursday, July 14th, the TCEQ will be holding a public meeting for the DFW Smog Plan at Arlington City Hall, 101 W. Abram. There will be two sessions. 10:30 am and 6:30 am. The most exciting will be the 6:30 pm session. Downwinders At Risk has a fun event planned. We encourage all to show up, have some fun, and speak up. Demand the gas industry be added to the DFW Air Plan.
Click here for the Downwinders At Risk details.