Big 2 EXCLUSIVE: Lizard Meeting w/ FWS
October 25, 2011
Reported by: Mycah Glover
Monday, October 24 2011
Midland – It was a big day for West Texas as the oil, gas, and agriculture industries continue to fight the listing of the Dunes Sagebrush lizard. Senator John Cornyn set up a meeting with U.S Fish and Wildlife. Director Dan Ashe traveled to Midland to hear from West Texans concerned about the possible listing. Although the meeting was closed to the public and the media, Big 2 caught up with several people, including Fish and Wildlife, to find out what was said and to get the latest information as we near the listing deadline of December 14.
“We had about 15 different stakeholders ranging from oil and gas operators to ag interest, farm bureau, local and county officials, all of which expressed deep concern about the proposed listing of the sand dune lizard,” says Ben Sheppard, PBPA president.
While economics are not taken into consideration when it comes to putting a species on the Endangered Species List, U.S. Fish and Wildlife says it’s important they hear these concerns. “The number one job of the administration right now and the number one concern of the whole country, Congress, the President’s office, is jobs. And we work for the administration, so we certainly are not going to do anything to threaten jobs and that’s never been our goal,” says Charna Lefton, U.S. Fish & Wildlife spokesperson.
But the final decision will come down to science, and that was the main concern at today’s meeting. Sheppard says, “Their science is erroneous and conflicts itself in many cases.”
“I think there was a major concern that the quality of science, the actual hard core experimental design and quality of the science was insufficient to a decision that has that much economic impact on this region and New Mexico,” says Dr. Robert Baker, TTU biological scientist.
Although Fish and Wildlife received two new scientific studies today, according to Dr. Baker, it would take years to determine whether or not drilling would impact the lizard’s habitat. “It’s a five year study or four year. It needs some multi-year thing that involves variables in rain and variables in environmental factors as well. That experimental design has not been done and is hard to do.”
Sheppard says the two studies that were submitted today refute claims that were made in the federal register. He thinks when Fish and Wildlife review this new science, the only decision they’ll have to make is to keep the lizard off the list.
Although we weren’t able to attend today’s meeting, we are working to get an audio link so you will be able to hear exactly what was said. When we receive that, we’ll post it on http://www.permianbasin360.com.
Senator Cornyn released the following statement:
“I want to thank Director Dan Ashe for accepting my invitation to come to Texas so he can hear directly from our landowners, employers, and local governments about the potential impact of the proposed Sand Dune Lizard listing as an Endangered Species. It’s essential that the job creators who will be directly impacted have the opportunity to have their concerns heard before this potentially devastating listing goes forward. I’m hopeful Director Ashe will take these concerns into consideration and allow for additional time for review before a final decision is reached.”
ENDANGERED SPECIES: Cornyn urges more time before lizard listing
October 25, 2011
Phil Taylor, E&E reporter
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) yesterday urged Interior Department officials to postpone their decision on whether to offer federal protections to a small Southwest lizard so the agency can consider potential impacts to landowners and oil and gas drillers.
Cornyn’s plea comes months before the Fish and Wildlife Service is expected to finalize a proposal to list the dunes sagebrush lizard as an endangered species. The move would require federal agencies to consult with FWS to ensure actions in west Texas and southeast New Mexico won’t lead to the species’ demise.
“It’s essential that the job creators who will be directly impacted have the opportunity to have their concerns heard before this potentially devastating listing goes forward,” Cornyn said through a spokesman.
Cornyn spoke by teleconference to a meeting yesterday in Midland, Texas, where FWS Director Dan Ashe and Southwest Region Director Benjamin Tuggle addressed about 40 industry and ranching representatives and local elected officials, according to those who attended.
Cornyn in June filed an amendment to stop FWS from offering Endangered Species Act protections for the 3-inch lizard, saying the move would cripple the oil and gas industry in West Texas (Greenwire, June 8). The chamber never voted on the measure.
“I’m hopeful Director Ashe will take these concerns into consideration and allow for additional time for review before a final decision is reached,” said Cornyn, who requested yesterday’s meeting.
Ben Shepperd, president of the Permian Basin Petroleum Association, said he fears some operators in the area will face delays of up to 18 months to drill on both public and private lands that could cost thousands of jobs. He estimated that 440 rigs — roughly one-fifth of all rigs on U.S. soil — were operating in the basin, which produces about 20 percent of domestic oil production.
He asked FWS to consider additional scientific studies, including from Texas Tech University and Texas A&M University, before finalizing its rule.
“They’re only required to use best available science, but we believe there is better science out there,” he said.
Conservationists balked at the suggestion and said the proposed rule was based on a peer-review scientific process that included public comment.
“The oil and gas industry and its representatives are putting an enormous amount of pressure on Fish and Wildlife Service here that threatens the integrity of the listing process,” said Taylor McKinnon, public lands campaign director for Center for Biological Diversity.
McKinnon said the meeting, which was closed to the media, appeared to be a “sneak attack” to influence the listing decision. He said his group was not aware of the meeting until asked about it yesterday afternoon.
A Cornyn aide said conservation interests were represented but did not provide any names.
The dunes sagebrush lizard was among more than 700 species for which FWS must address listing proposals under court-approved settlements with CBD and WildEarth Guardians.
Critics of the listing warn that the area in Texas that could become protected habitat for the lizard produces 300 million barrels of oil a year, nearly half of the state’s total production and 14 percent of total U.S. production.
FWS has said the blunt-nosed lizard, which has bright yellow eyes and brown, camouflaged skin, faces “immediate and significant threats due to oil and gas activities, and herbicide treatments” and should be listed as endangered.
Monahans Fights Sand Dune Lizard
October 20, 2011
Reported by: Mycah Glover
Wednesday, October 19 2011
Monahans – The West Texas economy is booming thanks to the oil and gas industry. In most booms, the main concern is that the price of crude will plummet. But those concerns have been pushed aside and fears over the possible listing of the sand dune lizard have taken center stage.
Today, the fight to keep the lizard off the endangered species list was taken to Monahans. The chamber of commerce hosted a summit with state, national and local leaders to discuss the issue.
Monahans has experienced more growth this year than they have in the past 25. It’s due to the increase in drilling thanks to continued advances in drilling technology. With more growth expected in Monahans, they’re fighting with everything they have to make sure a tiny lizard doesn’t stop their town from having a big future.
“We see several thousand jobs in the next few years in Monahans, Texas because this is kind of the center. The boom you’re talking about now, which is the fracking of the shale out here…Monahans is the center. So we’re ground zero out here,” says David Cutbirth, Mayor of Monahans.
That means that they have a lot to lose. Nathan Sawyer, president of the Monahans Chamber of Commerce says, “73 percent of the economy in Ward County is based to oil and gas and something like the dunes sagebrush lizard being listed could greatly effect the viability of this community.”
So today, the chamber hosted this summit to help Monahans residents understand exactly what is at stake.
“I’m worried for my job, my family, my neighbors. Our entire industry… everybody that lives out here will be effected by it. It’s worse than a drought,” says Richard Erwin, Monahans resident.
Unfortunately for people like Richard, the battle is far from over. Rep. Tryon Lewis says, “It will be a major battle. There are a lot of extremist environmental groups that want to use the Endangered Species Act to stop oil and gas drilling.”
Rep. Lewis says says it won’t be won without the help of West Texans. That’s why events like this are so important. Ben Sheppard, president of the Permian Basin Petroleum Association, agrees. “I think this is a fabulous example of what local communities can do and what they need to do when faced with such regulations from Washington, D.C..”
And Erwin is one of many West Texans ready for battle. “They need to go back home from wherever they came from ”
The Andrews Chamber of Commerce has also been proactive in fighting the listing of the lizard. They’ve started an online petition. If they get enough signatures, the issue will be up for review by policy experts in Washington. They need 5,000 signatures by October 28 to make that happen. If you would like to sign that petition, you can click on the following link.
PBPA Announces 2011 Top Hand Award – Tim Leach
October 20, 2011
PBPA has announced the 2011 Top Hand Award, Mr. Tim Leach of Concho Resources. Congratulations, Tim!
The annual Top Hand award ceremony will take place January 19, at the Petroleum Club of Midland at 7:00 p.m.
Tim Leach has served as the Chairman and CEO of Concho Resources since its formation in 1997. Tim grew up in an oil and gas family. His father was an engineer at Shell and by age eight, Tim had lived in six different cities throughout Louisiana, Texas, Colorado, Ohio and New York. Tim graduated from Spring High School near Houston, Texas where he met his wife Amy. He attended Texas A&M University and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Petroleum Engineering in 1982. He and Amy also married that year and moved to Midland, Texas where Tim worked at Midland National Bank in the Energy Lending Department. He earned an MBA from The University of Texas of the Permian Basin in 1984. He met many of the industry’s leaders in his position at Midland National and left in 1989 for a Vice President of Engineering position at Parker and Parsley. During his time at Parker and Parsley, he was involved in the acquisitions of MGF, Damson, Graham, Bridge Oil and the Permian assets of Mobil as well as Parker and Parsley’s merger with Mesa into Pioneer Natural Resources. In 1997, Tim, Steve Beal, Dave Chroback and David Copeland left Pioneer and formed Concho. Since going public in 2007, Concho has grown to become one of the leading public companies in the energy industry. Concho’s major acquisitions include Chase, Henry Petroleum and Marbob. Today, Concho employs over 550 people in Midland and other areas of the Permian Basin.
Tim and Amy have two sons, William, 22, and Patrick, 20. Both boys currently attend Texas A&M University. Tim serves on the Dwight Look College Engineering Advisory Council at A&M and was honored as the Outstanding Alumnus of the Dwight Look College of Engineering in 2011. He was active in the formation of Midland Classical Academy in Midland that has grown to include both a primary and secondary school. He is passionate about land conservation, hunting and fishing and has recently planted two commercial vineyards in Real County, Texas.
EPA Announces Schedule to Develop Natural Gas Wastewater Standards
October 20, 2011
Announcement is part of administration’s priority to ensure natural gas development continues safely and responsibly
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is announcing a schedule to develop standards for wastewater discharges produced by natural gas extraction from underground coalbed and shale formations. No comprehensive set of national standards exists at this time for the disposal of wastewater discharged from natural gas extraction activities, and over the coming months EPA will begin the process of developing a proposed standard with the input of stakeholders – including industry and public health groups. Today’s announcement is in line with the priorities identified in the president’s Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future, and is consistent with the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board recommendations on steps to support the safe development of natural gas resources.
“The president has made clear that natural gas has a central role to play in our energy economy. That is why we are taking steps — in coordination with our federal partners and informed by the input of industry experts, states and public health organizations — to make sure the needs of our energy future are met safely and responsibly,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “We can protect the health of American families and communities at the same time we ensure access to all of the important resources that make up our energy economy. The American people expect and deserve nothing less.”
Recent technology and operational improvements in extracting natural gas resources, particularly shale gas, have increased gas drilling activities across the country. Production from shale formations has grown from a negligible amount just a few years ago to almost 15 percent of total U.S. natural gas production and this share is expected to triple in the coming decades. The sharp rise in domestic production has improved U.S. energy security and created jobs, and as with any resource the administration is committed to ensuring that we continue to leverage these resources safely and responsibly, including understanding any potential impact on water resources.
Shale Gas Standards:
Currently, wastewater associated with shale gas extraction is prohibited from being directly discharged to waterways and other waters of the U.S. While some of the wastewater from shale gas extraction is reused or re-injected, a significant amount still requires disposal. As a result, some shale gas wastewater is transported to treatment plants, many of which are not properly equipped to treat this type of wastewater. EPA will consider standards based on demonstrated, economically achievable technologies, for shale gas wastewater that must be met before going to a treatment facility.
Coalbed Methane Standards:
Wastewater associated with coalbed methane extraction is not currently subject to national standards for being directly discharged into waterways and for pre-treatment standards. Its regulation is left to individual states. For coalbed methane, EPA will be considering uniform national standards based on economically achievable technologies.
Information reviewed by EPA, including state supplied wastewater sampling data, have documented elevated levels of pollutants entering surface waters as a result of inadequate treatment at facilities. To ensure that these wastewaters receive proper treatment and can be properly handled by treatment plants, EPA will gather data, consult with stakeholders, including ongoing consultation with industry, and solicit public comment on a proposed rule for coalbed methane in 2013 and a proposed rule for shale gas in 2014.
The schedule for coalbed methane is shorter because EPA has already gathered extensive data and information in this area, EPA will take the additional time to gather comparable data on shale gas. In particular, EPA will be looking at the potential for cost-effective steps for pretreatment of this wastewater based on practices and technologies that are already available and being deployed or tested by industry to reduce pollutants in these discharges.
This announcement is part of the effluent guidelines program, which sets national standards for industrial wastewater discharges based on best available technologies that are economically achievable. EPA is required to publish a biennial outline of all industrial wastewater discharge rulemakings underway. EPA has issued national technology-based regulations for 57 industries since 1972. These regulations have prevented the discharge of more than 1.2 billion pounds of toxic pollutants each year into US waters.
More information: http://water.epa.gov/lawsregs/lawsguidance/cwa/304m/
Sign Petition to Hault Listing of Dunes Sagebrush Lizard
October 19, 2011
Prevent US Fish and Wildlife Service from listing the Dunes Sagebrush Lizard on the Federal Endangered Species List. The proposed listing is simply one more attempt by the Federal Government to place the interests of a creature they hypothesize to be endangered above a bona fide “endangered species” – the American Worker.
The Federal Government should not be in the business of killing jobs. It’s time to put an end to over-regulation and reign in those agencies bent on destroying the ability of the American people to subsist.
If approved, the listing will severely undermine attempts to reduce America’s dependency on foreign oil by limiting exploration and production in an area responsible for 20% of America’s domestic oil production – this listing will adversely affect all of us.
[button link=”https://wwws.whitehouse.gov/petitions/!/petition/hault-job-killing-regulations-favor-real-jobs-plan/fPVfnLjm” type=”big” color=”green” newwindow=”yes”] Sign This Petition[/button]
Annual Meeting Meeting Advisory
October 10, 2011
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Permian Basin Petroleum Association
415 West Wall, St. 103
Midland, Texas 79702
October 10, 2011
Permian Basin Petroleum Association celebrates 50 years of service with Annual Meeting
The Permian Basin Petroleum Association will be hosting its Annual Meeting October 13, celebrating the association’s 50th year. The event will kick off at 7:30 at the Petroleum Club of Midland , followed by new technology sessions and a membership luncheon featuring keynote speaker the Honorable Susana Martinez, Governor of New Mexico.
PBPA has created an excellent lineup of speakers including Commissioner Barry Smitherman, Railroad Commission of Texas; Secretary John Bemis, of the New Mexico Energy, Minerals, and Natural Resources Department. Randy Krall of Wellkeeper; Dr. Bob Trentham, Center for Energy and Economic Diversification; and Laura Roman, CPA, CMAP, Weaver will highlight our mid-morning program.
WHO: Permian Basin Petroleum Association
WHAT: Annual Meeting
October 13th: 7:30 AM- Kickoff Breakfast with Commissioner Barry Smitherman, Railroad Commission of Texas and John H. Bemis, Secretary of New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department
New Technologies Sessions:
- “Remote Servicing”- Randy Krall, Wellkeeper
- “Hot Plays/Residual Oil Zone Update”- Dr. Bob Trentham, Center for Energy and Economic Diversification
- “2011 American Jobs Act”- Laura Roman, Weaver
- 11:30 AM- Luncheon with Keynote Speaker, the Honorable Governor Susana Martinez of New Mexico
WHERE: Petroleum Club of Midland, 501 West Wall Street, Midland, TX 79701, (432) 682-2557
Lizards Found In Andrews Risk Economy
October 3, 2011
ANDREWS COUNTY – A report done by Texas A&M researchers back in June surveyed 19 sites in Andrews County, finding the dunes sagebrush lizard in all of them.
The report said the little guy’s presence is found in more than 31,000 acres of land from Andrews County to New Mexico.
If the endangered species list makes those acres “No Man’s Land” for oil and gas, operators said it doesn’t look good for Andrews.
“If you lay down one drilling rig, you affect a line of jobs that reaches close to probably 1,000 people,” Andrews County Independent Oil and Gas Operator, Jackie Gillispie, said. “It could be devastating for us, there’s no question about that.”
Other businesses said they’ll suffer too, some that people may not realize.
The local Holiday Inn Express said they’ll lose the majority of their business if they’re not housing oil and gas workers.
“The bulk of the business is oil-related, oil and gas-related,” General Manager, William Gonzales, said. “We’ll have to really ramp up any events that come to town, any weekend events. We’ll really have to work with those people that are coming in to try to make up for that business.”
In Andrews County, dunes sagebrush lizards were found at all 19 sites surveyed by the report, but with that many lizards, some local oil businesses say that doesn’t sound endangered to them.
Dr. Lee Fitzgerald, who was on the team of researchers, told NewsWest 9 Andrews County has so many lizards because its land is their perfect dunes habitat.
That’s why lizards were found at all sites as opposed to 8 out of 12 sites for Winkler County and only one site in Ward County.
Whether or not those large numbers classify the lizard as endangered, Fitzgerald said that’s up to the standards of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
“It actually shuts down drilling rigs which is the heart and soul of the oil business,” Gillispie said. “It will make the oil worker the endangered species, simple as that.”
The Andrews Chamber of Commerce has put up a petition to stop the lizard’s listing online.
If you’d like to sign it, you can go to wh.gov/4mj.
Public hearing set on proposed hydraulic fracturing disclosure rules
October 3, 2011
Tasked earlier this summer with crafting new regulations
overseeing disclosure of chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing,
the Railroad Commission is wrapping up the public comment period on
its proposed rules.
A public hearing is set for 1 p.m. Wednesday at the commission’s
headquarters at 1701 N. Congress, Room 1-111. The hearing also WILL
be webcast at www.texasadmin.com/txrail.shtml. The commission will
continue to receive comments, either written or electronic, until
noon Tuesday, Oct. 11.
Under the proposed new regulations, operators must submit
information about the chemicals and volumes of water used in
hydraulic fracturing to FracFocus, the hydraulic fracturing
chemical registry web site of the Ground Water Protection Council
and the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission. A supplier,
service company or operator is not required to disclose ingredients
not disclosed by the manufacturer, supplier or service company or
that were not intentionally added to the hydraulic fracturing
treatment or ingredients that occur incidentally or are otherwise
unintentionally present or may be constituents of naturally
To alleviate industry concerns about trade secrets being
disclosed, the new regulations provide that the Attorney General’s
office will rule on what chemicals are entitled to trade secret
protection. That protection may be challenged by owners of the land
where the well was drilled or adjacent to the well or departments
or agencies, such as health care professionals, emergency
responders, epidemiologists or others to whom the information is
relevant. Those challenges also will be decided by the Attorney
General’s office and those who are told the trade secret must keep
the information confidential.
“We’re comfortable with the legislation” that prompted the new
regulations “and want to make sure the regulations track the
legislation,” said Ben Shepperd, president of the Permian Basin
Petroleum Association. “We’re comfortable that the proprietary
information will be safe, that the attorney general will work to
keep it confidential. This has to be workable and not slow down
He continued, “Our main concern is how it will be implemented.
We’re OK with the concept of ensuring the public trusts us about
what we put down the hole. But we don’t want the process to hurt
especially small operators, who can’t afford their own crews and
hire a frac crew. The frac company tells the operator what’s in the
hydraulic fracturing solutions and the operator has to file the
information. We don’t want operators to be punished unfairly, we
want a reasonable turnaround in filing the information.”
Commented officials with Apache Corporation, which has worked
with the commission on developing the rules, “Apache is pleased
with the progress made by the Railroad Commission to develop
regulations regarding disclosure – at a detailed level – all of the
chemical ingredients intentionally added to frac fluids while
protecting legitimate confidential business information.
“The disclosure law enacted by the Texas Legislature last spring
will help assure Texans that hydraulic fracturing is regulated
effectively at the state level. This disclosure program also will
permit producers to continue to fuel Texas’ economic growth by
developing the state’s resources in a safe and environmentally
responsible manner. The Texas model for frac fluid disclosure is
the basis for discussions of new regulations by other states.”
There will be no news, Shepperd said, in disclosing how much
water is used in hydraulic fracturing, pointing out that other
industries use much larger volumes. But that disclosure could help
ease public concerns about the volumes used in the process. He
pointed out that a lot of companies are working to develop
technology to recycle the water, reducing the amount of fresh water
used in hydraulic fracturing.
“That’s where the industry is headed,” he said. “As the
technology is perfected, we’ll see a lot more recycling.”
The new rules, Shepperd said, “are a big step, but as far as
disclosing the chemicals used, the industry has nothing to hide.
But we’re under a lot of public criticism, so shining a light on
this aspect of the industry can only be beneficial.”