White House Intercedes for Gas Project in National Forest

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by IJ Reilly, Aug 9, 2004.

  1. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2002
    Location:
    Palookaville
    #1
    CARSON NATIONAL FOREST, N.M. — Overriding the opposition of the U.S. Forest Service and New Mexico state officials, a White House energy task force has interceded on behalf of Houston-based El Paso Corp. in its two-year effort to explore for natural gas in a remote part of a national forest next door to America's largest Boy Scout camp.

    Forest Service officials discouraged efforts to drill in the Valle Vidal at least three times since the agency acquired the land in 1982, citing concerns about water pollution, wildlife and recreation if a large-scale energy project were approved.

    But last week, the agency took the first step toward approving the giant energy company's proposal to tap into 40,000 acres of alpine meadows in the Carson National Forest. The agency released a report that forecast a high probability of recovering gas from the area and laid out a scenario in which 500 wells could be drilled on the forest's east side.

    The Forest Service's action has sparked angry opposition from many groups and officials, including New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, a Democrat who was U.S. secretary of Energy during the Clinton administration. Such disputes are increasingly commonplace in Rocky Mountain states as critics of Bush administration energy policies accuse the White House of repeatedly targeting some of the most cherished wild places for development.

    Home to 200 species of birds and 60 types of mammals, including one of the state's largest elk herds, the "Valley of Life," as it was named by Latino pioneers, has been a proving ground for generations of young men and women in a wilderness training program run by the Boy Scouts of America.

    Since 1938, the Boy Scouts have operated a national training center on the 200-square-mile Philmont Ranch southeast of the Valle Vidal. Each year some 25,000 young people converge on the ranch for a host of outdoor activities.

    But when the Forest Service, in consultation with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, rejected El Paso Corp.'s request in 2002, the company appealed to the administration.

    "In this environment, we need new natural gas supplies more than ever,'' wrote El Paso's federal government affairs director to Robert W. Middleton, the director of the White House Task Force on Energy Project Streamlining. "We believe that the Valle Vidal Unit could be a vital new source of such supply. Consequently, we would very much appreciate anything you could do to help move this process forward in a timely manner.''

    Copies of correspondence made available to The Times show that after El Paso representatives met with Middleton, he instructed the Forest Service to revisit the project.

    ...​

    http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-gas9aug09,1,3864281.story
     
  2. friarbayliff macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2004
    Location:
    MN / IN
    #2
    I have personally been to the Philmont Scout Camp as a part of the program the run there. It is very unfortunate that they are considering this beautiful area for possible energy exploration. The harming of this beautiful wilderness - one of the precious few places we have left - would not be acceptable.
     
  3. Desertrat macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2003
    Location:
    Terlingua, Texas
    #3
    Yeah, beautiful country.

    The usual problem with such projects is less that there will be drilling. That's a short-term impact on wildlife. The "how it's done" aspect is the long-term impact. Soil erosion from roads and pipeline construction CAN be the really negative hit. Now that tank-trucks are used for drilling mud instead of an open "mud pit", there's little direct impact from the actual drilling operation.

    We had three wells drilled on the old family ranch. After they played out (I disrecall; maybe six or eight years) they were capped. Now, for two of them, there's no sign anything ever happened, including the mud pits. It won't be long before the third (a major gas well) also disappears.

    'Rat
     
  4. IJ Reilly thread starter macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2002
    Location:
    Palookaville
    #4
    What struck me about this episode was the Bush administration taking both sides of the local control issue. They used the local control argument when it came to opening up road development in wilderness areas, but they're perfectly prepared to overrule local control when it comes to permitting oil and gas leasing in a national forest. The constant in their policy machinations seems to be spreading as much joy as possible in the extraction industries.
     
  5. Desertrat macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2003
    Location:
    Terlingua, Texas
    #5
    I'm ignorant of the position on local control/roads. Elucidate?

    As for the gas, we're running out of it. We're importing from Canada, and there's an effort underway to develop LNG re-gasification systems for importing natural gas by sea--and these are almost as dangerous as nukes.

    California has been building numerous gas-fired electric generating plants. Natural gas is the only raw material for ethylene from which is derived some 300 or more consumer products--including the plastics used in water pipe and desktop stuff. And, folks wanna stay warm when there's snow and ice outside...

    The free-market price used to be down under $2 per MCF; it spiked to around $10, last winter. I'd bet the re-gasification operations wouldn't be profitable if gas was much below $4 or $5, which oughta say something about Mr. Corporation's view of the future.

    'Rat
     
  6. IJ Reilly thread starter macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2002
    Location:
    Palookaville
    #6
    The Bush administration recently overturned the Clinton policy severely restricting the development of roads in currently roadless areas on federal lands. One of the announced rationales for the new policy was providing for more local control over these decisions.
     
  7. Desertrat macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2003
    Location:
    Terlingua, Texas
    #7
    Yuck. That argument about roads has been going on for some 40 years or more. The locals want the roads for access to hunting areas, generally. The recreation crowd just wants more roads, whether for four-wheelers or access to hiking/camping areas. The rich folks who buy land adjacent to public lands want the roads closed to keep people out from what could otherwise be a private playground. The timber companies want access to trees, which provides work for locals. A big problem is that the Forest Service doesn't charge enough for the timber to defray the cost of road-building and maintenance--which shafts the taxpayers.

    Itr's one of those lose/lose/lose situations...

    'Rat
     
  8. IJ Reilly thread starter macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2002
    Location:
    Palookaville
  9. Desertrat macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2003
    Location:
    Terlingua, Texas
    #9
    I follow your point, but I don't think it's apropos. Roads are a far more local issue, without the larger national interest of having supplies of natural gas.

    As a side note, there is a difference between "out in the boonies" and a designated wilderness area. Most of the Forest Service lands in New Mexico are regrowth forests; they've been logged, ranched and mined since Spaniard exploration first began.

    'Rat
     
  10. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2003
    Location:
    Colly-fornia
    #10
    Nice stereotyping 'Rat, but I'm not rich and I don't own big pieces of property in these areas yet I am not in favor of building roads into the wilderness simply to provide entertainment for off-roaders or hunters. I know you think you know what all liberals are like, but lumping us all together is intellectually dishonest (although I realize it makes your argument easier to make :) )
     
  11. 2jaded2care macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2003
    Location:
    Atlanta
    #11
    I'm torn about this one myself. It's easy to say leave the national forests unspoiled, but our country and China seem to be determined to use up all our energy sources before we have any replacements lined up. It does look like a lose/lose situation, because the Bush administration is damned if they allow drilling, and damned if they don't (and natural gas prices continue to rise, poor people freeze to death, etc.). Personally, I don't know what decision I would make. I just hope the 'Mercun people get fair compensation if it's allowed.

    Myself, I don't give a whit about some off-roader wanting to tear up the scenery with an ATV. Let'em buy their own property to tear up. At least with hunting (which I don't), you have the argument about the deer population and overgrazing, and the fact that some hunters donate their catch to needy causes.

    As a side note, I thought the BSA was evil and should have no access to public lands anyway because they had some irrational fear of lawsuits if they let gay scout leaders go camping with a bunch of scouts... See, they should just be more like the Archdiocese of Boston and be willing to go bankrupt...
     
  12. Steradian macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2002
    Location:
    San Jose
    #12
    It takes years to get into Philmont, Troops who manage to get in are blessed. Truely some of the most increible woods lie in that area.
     
  13. Desertrat macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2003
    Location:
    Terlingua, Texas
    #13
    Stereotyping? BS, mac. I wuz just pointing out SOME of the political forces acting on public lands issues. I didn't mention other stuff like the 4wheeler crowd or the Sierra Club's shrieking about the evils of ranching. And there're a lot more...

    'Rat
     

Share This Page