The Wise Report

March 2, 2013

Henry M. Wise, P.G.

 

The following bills that may be of interest to Texas geologists have been filed. New information is listed in bold (one new bill listed):

 

The recently revised Construction General Permit for Stormwater becomes effective onTuesday, March 5, 2013, and all authorizations issued under the current CGP will expire. For coverage under the new permit, a Notice of Intent (NOI) should be submitted after March 5, 2013. Operators of large construction activities previously authorized under the expiring CGP have 90 days to submit a new NOI and application fee. The new CGP and the updated forms will be posted on the TCEQ website at: http://www.tceq.texas.gov/permitting/stormwater/wq_construction.html

Bloomberg reports the series of automatic Federal spending cuts will result in an estimated $154 million reduction in federal funding for state environmental programs, according to the White House Council on Environmental Quality. The news organization reports environmental funding for Texas would will be $8.47 million less. An estimated $46.2 million in anticipated cuts to federal fish and wildlife protection grants is also outlined in the e-mail. For the full story go to: http://newsmanager.commpartners.com/linktrack.php?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.bloomberg.com%2Fnews%2F2013-02-27%2Fsequestration-cuts-154m-in-state-environment-funding-white-house-says.html.

Today, the Texas Senate unanimously confirmed the appointment of Toby Baker of Austin to serve as a Commissioner of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Comm. Baker has been serving in that capacity since his appointment by Governor Rick Perry on April 16, 2012. His term will expire on Aug. 31, 2017. For the complete announcement go to:  http://www.tceq.texas.gov/news/releases/2-13BakerConfirmed2-27

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HB 86, by Callegari, Relating to the criteria for review by the Sunset Advisory Commission of an agency that licenses an occupation. “A member of the legislature may submit proposed legislation that would create an occupational licensing program or significantly affect an existing occupational licensing program to the commission for review and analysis.” This bill opens the door to more attacks on the TBPG, among other Boards. Scheduled for formal meeting on 3/4/2013.  For more information go to:http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=83R&Bill=HB86

 

HB 87, by Callegari, Relating to regulation of an individual’s occupation. “An individual may engage in an occupation not prohibited by law without being subject to a state agency rule, policy, or practice that regulates the occupation if the rule, policy, or practice is:

(1) substantially burdensome; and

(2) unnecessary to fulfill the purpose and intent of the statute authorizing the regulation of the occupation.

(b) A state agency rule, policy, or practice may substantially burden an individual’s right to engage in an occupation only if the agency demonstrates that the rule, policy, or practice is necessary to fulfill the purpose and intent of the statute authorizing the regulation of the occupation. “

This bill also opens the door to more attacks on the TBPG, among other Boards.  2/25/2013, left pending in committee. For more information go to: http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=83R&Bill=HB87

 

HB 100, by Taylor, Van, Identical to SB 136, Relating to unit operations for oil, gas, or oil and gas production or carbon dioxide storage. 2/18/2013, referred to Energy Resources. For more information go to:http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=83R&Bill=HB100

 

HB 147, by Burkett, Duplicate to HB 426, very similar to SB 467, Relating to the regulatory analysis of rules proposed by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. “Before adopting an environmental rule, the commission shall conduct a regulatory analysis that weighs the costs and environmental effects expected to result from implementation of and compliance with the rule.” 2/6/2013, referred to Environmental Regulation. For more information go to: http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=83R&Bill=HB147

 

HB 340, by Rodriguez, Eddie, Relating to the power of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to authorize certain injection wells that transect or terminate in the Edwards Aquifer. Allows injection wells that transect or terminate in that portion of the Edwards Aquifer inside the boundaries of Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District. 2/11/2013, referred to Natural Resources. For more information go to:http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=83R&Bill=HB340

 

HB 426, by Creighton, Duplicate to HB 147, very similar to SB 467, Relating to the regulatory analysis of rules proposed by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. “Before adopting an environmental rule, the commission shall conduct a regulatory analysis that weighs the costs and environmental effects expected to result from implementation of and compliance with the rule.” 2/11/2013, referred to Environmental Regulation. For more information go to: http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=83R&Bill=426

 

HB 569, by White, Relating to a study on the stringency of state environmental standards. The TCEQ will conduct a study of state environmental statutes and agency rules and assure that they aren’t more stringent than Federal requirements. 2/14/2013, referred to Environmental Regulation. For more information go to: http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=83R&Bill=HB569

 

HB 677, by Geren, Relating to the regulation and enforcement of dam safety by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Exempts small dams located on private property from meeting requirements related to dam safety. Scheduled for formal meeting on 3/6/2013. For more information go to: http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=83R&Bill=HB569

 

HB 788, by Smith, Relating to regulation of greenhouse gas emissions by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. The TCEQ will adopt a program for the permitting of greenhouse gases and the program shall remain in effect until it’s been determined that greenhouse gas emissions are no longer required to be regulated under federal law, on the effective date of the determination. 2/18/2013, referred to Environmental Regulation. For more information go to:http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=83R&Bill=HB788

 

HB 824, by Callegari, Relating to a volume-based exemption from reporting requirements for accidental discharges or spills from wastewater facilities. It’s not necessary to notify the TCEQ of an accidental discharge or spill of 1,500 gallons or less from a wastewater treatment facility or works.Scheduled for formal meeting on 3/5/2013. For more information go to: http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=83R&Bill=HB824.

 

HB 878, by Crownover, Relating to the filing with the state of well logs by operators of oil-related or gas-related wells; providing a penalty. Well logs are to be filed electronically. 2/19/2013, referred to Energy Resources. For more information go to: http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=83R&Bill=HB878.

 

HB 1079, by Smith, Identical to SB 434. Relating to the procedural requirements for action by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality on applications for production area authorizations. 2/19/2013, referred to Energy Resources. For more information go to: http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=83R&Bill=HB1079.

 

HB 2146, by Hilderbran, Relating to limits on mining of marl, sand, gravel, shell, or mudshell in certain protected freshwater areas. Allows for no more than 1,000 cubic yards from the area located east of IH-35. Filed 3/1/2013.  For more information go to:http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=83R&Bill=HB2146.

 

HB 2166, by Bonnen and Dennis, Relating to the continuation, functions, and name of the Railroad Commission of Texas; providing for the imposition of fees, the repeal of provisions for the suspension of the collection of fees, and the elimination of a fee. Among other things, changes the name of the RRC to the Texas Energy Resources Commission. Filed 3/1/2013.  For more information go to: http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=83R&Bill=HB2166.

 

SB 136, by Ellis, Identical to HB 100. Relating to unit operations for oil, gas, or oil and gas production or carbon dioxide storage. 1/29/2013, referred to Natural Resources. For more information go to:http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/history.aspx?LegSess=83R&Bill=SB136

 

SB138, by Zaffirini, Relating to procedures for filing complaints with, and providing notice of certain violations to, the Texas Board of Professional Geoscientists. This bill is designed to foster cooperation between agencies. As of now, the PG Board can only discover violations if a public complaint is made or the Board finds it themselves. This bill would require other agencies, such as the TCEQ to report violations to the PG Board when they find them. This has not been happening. 2/5/2013 Committee report printed and distributed. For more information go to:http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/history.aspx?LegSess=83R&Bill=SB138

 

SB 272, by Seliger, Relating to water well recordkeeping and reporting requirements, including the production, use, and withdrawal of groundwater. 2/19/2013, left pending in Committee. For more information go to: http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/history.aspx?LegSess=83R&Bill=SB272.

 

SB 434, by Smith, Identical to HB 1079. Relating to the procedural requirements for action by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality on applications for production area authorizations. 2/13/2013, referred to Natural Resources. For more information go to: http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=83R&Bill=SB434.

 

SB 467, by Hegar. Very similar to HB 147 and HB 426. Relating to the regulatory analysis of rules proposed by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. 2/13/2013, referred to Natural Resources. For more information go to: http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=83R&Bill=SB467.

 

SB 536, by Hinojosa. Relating to regulation of greenhouse gas emissions by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Before adopting an environmental rule, the commission shall conduct a regulatory analysis that weighs the costs and environmental effects expected to result from implementation of and compliance with the rule. 2/20/2013, referred to Natural Resources. For more information go to: http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=83R&Bill=SB536.

 

SB 584, by Hegar. Relating to a volume-based exemption from reporting requirements for accidental discharges or spills from wastewater facilities. Reportable sewage spills from a wastewater treatment facility are greater than 1,500 gallons. 2/20/2013, referred to Natural Resources. For more information go to:http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=83R&Bill=SB584.

 

SB 873, by Hegar. Relating to the authority of a groundwater conservation district to require a permit for the drilling or operation of a water well used to supply water for the performance of a hydraulic fracturing treatment on an oil or gas well. Groundwater Districts may not provide an exemption to the requirement to obtain a permit. Filed 2/27/2013. For more information go to:http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=83R&Bill=SB873.

 

SB 941, by Davis. Relating to the adoption of rules by the Railroad Commission of Texas regulating the exploration for and production of natural gas in the unincorporated areas of certain counties. “Rules adopted under this section must promote gas exploration and production while securing the quality of life and  existing economic interests, including property values and development plans, in the unincorporated areas of the counties.”. Filed 2/28/2013. For more information go to:http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=83R&Bill=SB941.

 

I’ll be updating this list in the future, throughout the legislative session.

Henry M. Wise, P.G.

The Wise Report

March 2, 2013

Truth and Facts on Hydraulic Fracturing and Environmental Implications
This one day event conference in Houston offers a primer on many of the technical aspects of Hydraulic Fracturing from an Oil & Gas perspective. Speakers will present on topics ranging from the technical aspects of Hydraulic Fracturing to environmental evaluations to case studies.  Case studies will be presented that highlight the realities of Hydraulic Fracturing from all over the U.S. and help dispel the myths.  The conference features speakers from the Private Sector and Regulatory Agencies for the best insight on what is out there today.
Meinen
Kreitler
Hedgcoxe
Watts
Molofsky
PRESENTERS:

Dr. Charles Kreitler of LBG-Guyton Associates
“Lessons Learned from the Barnett Shale Range Resources Litigation”
Reif Hedgcoxe and Troy W. Meinen of Environmental Resources Mgmt.
*Baseline Environmental Monitoring of Water  Resources
Lisa Molofsky of GSI Environmental Inc.
*Lines of Evidence Approach to the Evaluation of Stray Gas Incidents *New Geochemical Data
Leslie Savage – Railroad Commission of Texas
* Regulatory and Permitting Frame Work of Texas
Mike Watts – Director, Fracturing Stimulation Affairs, Halliburton
* Shale Development Overview


Additional Topics:

* Update on the Status of Hydraulic Fracturing Technology
*Geology of Barnett and Eagle-Ford Shale
* Hydraulic Fracturing Wastewater Mgmt

Eligible for up to 8 PDH units

When: October 24, 2012 – 7:30 A.M. (Registration) to 5:00 P.M
Venue: J.W. Marriot
5150 Westheimer Road at Sage Houston, Texas 77056
EVENT SPONSORED BY: TEXAS ASSOCIATION OF PROFESSIONAL GEOSCIENTISTS
Cost: $125- TAPG Members
$125- TAEP Members
$125 – HGS Members

$175 – Nonmembers
All On-site Registrations + $10

               

by Tom Shepstone

We have done three previous posts on this blog pointing out the gargantuan flaws in Marvin Resnikoff’s work.  You can read them herehere and here.  We have noted his work is not only seriously blemished with numerous defects, but his testimony has been rejected again and again in courts of scientific research as well as law, qualifying him as the perfect “anti-expert.”  Well, it turns out the scientific community, may have had it with him, too.  The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has just released a report that all but him accuses him of being an eccentric crank.  Here’s how what they said in their cover letter distributing the report:

In response to concerns over human exposure to radon in natural gas supplies from the Appalachian Basin, the USGS has released a preliminary dataset providing radon-222 concentrations in natural gas samples derived from the Marcellus Shale and Upper Devonian sandstone reservoirs.  This preliminary dataset has been summarized in a short report authored by my colleagues Liz Rowan and Tom Kraemer, which can be downloaded from the USGS Publications Warehouse: http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2012/1159/

And, here’s what they say in the report itself (emphasis added):

A recent report by Resnikoff (2012) has led to increased interest in possible human exposure to radon as a component of natural gas in household settings.  The report, however, relied on theoretical calculations utilizing limited data from geologic analogs.  A decision was made to release our small and preliminary dataset because, to the authors’ knowledge, measurements of radon in natural gas at the wellhead have not previously been published for the Appalachian Basin.

This is polite agency talk for “we’re not going to let this guy keep getting away with distorting our previous work based on bunch of hokey speculations.”  Their report effectively confirms the criticisms of Resnikoff’s work by Ralph Johnson and Lynn R. Anspaugh, Ph.D, the relevant details of which have been shared here, but there’s more.

Radon is no simple subject, but both Johnson and Anspaugh have noted Resnikoff’s numbers are wildly unrealistic, starting with his most basic assumptions, which rely upon bad arithmetic and speculation to extrapolate old data into new doomsday threats of radon entering metro area homes in high concentrations.  Readers of Resnikoff’s hyperbolic report will recall he said this about radon concentrations in the Marcellus Shale (emphasis added):

 

To Read More CLICK HERE

By Trish Choate

WASHINGTON — The federal government decided not to list the dunes sagebrush lizard as an endangered species, much to the delight of the oil and gas industry, landowners and the Big Country congressional delegation.

Some environmental groups, however, were far from pleased by the decision announced Wednesday. The lizard that lives in the Permian Basin, an area active with energy development in West Texas and southeastern New Mexico.

Environmentalists object to the same thing federal and Texas state officials and energy groups are rejoicing over: an unprecedented voluntary conservation plan with no means of enforcement.

Federal officials said they expect state governments in Texas and New Mexico, landowners and energy producers to carry through on their states’ respective plans to conserve and restore the lizard’s habitat. If not, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service can always move to list the lizard as an endangered species again.

To read more Click Here

By LOUISE S. DURHAM, EXPLORER Correspondent

Cable-free node deployed near Pecos in the Permian Basin in west Texas. Photos courtesy of FairfieldNodal

Seismic data acquisition systems dubbed cableless, wireless, cable-free, no-cable, etc. were viewed as a kind of novelty in the industry only a few years ago.

That has changed dramatically as the success stories emanating from increased numbers of field applications are being reported evermore often.

It had to happen, not just offshore but also on land in particular.

Think about seismic crew members traipsing around rugged, inhospitable terrain lugging the heavy, cumbersome cables and accompanying equipment required by cable systems, the longtime industry stalwart.

Then consider the cost and time to load and move all of this weight via helicopter – a transport frequently necessary to reach the often-inaccessible areas where data must be acquired.

There are other issues.

Besides the potential to leave an undesirable environmental footprint using cable systems, gnawing sharp-teeth varmints feast on these wires wherever possible – troubleshooting, anyone?

Even ordinary thunderstorms pose a risk.

“A lot of wire on the ground is a big problem where you have thunderstorm activity because of the static it generates into the cable,” said Darin Silvernagle, vice president of technology at SAExploration, or SAE, (nee NES LLC). “When you have 400 miles of wire laid out on the ground, static can be a big problem.”

The available cableless, i.e. nodal, land systems include the FairfieldNodal ZLand® system and its transition zone, shallow water counterpart Z700, INNOVA HAWK®, Sercel UNITE and OYO GSR, among others.

Nodal systems are designed to meet a number of industry needs:

  • More flexible acquisition geometries, e.g. wide and full azimuth for land surveys.
  • Reduced downtime and maintenance.
  • Increased productivity.
  • Improved health, safety and environment conditions (HSE).
  • Enhanced access to challenging locales.

To read more CLICK HERE

From the New York Times:

By DANNY HAKIM

Published: June 13, 2012

ALBANY — Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s administration is pursuing a plan to limit the controversial drilling method known as hydraulic fracturing to portions of several struggling New York counties along the border with Pennsylvania, and to permit it only in communities that express support for the technology.

The plan, described by a senior official at the State Department of Environmental Conservation and others with knowledge of the administration’s strategy, would limit drilling to the deepest areas of the Marcellus Shale rock formation, at least for the next several years, in an effort to reduce the risk of groundwater contamination.

Even within that southwest New York region — primarilyBroome, Chemung, Chenango, Steuben and Tioga Counties — drilling would be permitted only in towns that agree to it, and would be banned in Catskill Park, aquifers and nationally designated historic districts.

The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because the deliberations in the administration are still continuing.

 To read more CLICK HERE

Joint
HGS-SIPES
Ethics Meeting

Thursday, July 19

Oil Spills, Ethics and Society:
How they intersect and where the responsibilities reside
Dr. W.C. ‘Rusty’ Riese,
AAPG Distinguised Speaker