KUNM

Drilling Deep

Credit Laura Paskus

    

In this KUNM series, reporter Laura Paskus will be exploring natural gas drilling and the burgeoning oil industry in northwestern New Mexico--its benefits, impacts, and future.

NASA

In 2014, NASA announced they’d found that the largest plume of methane gas in North America was right here in New Mexico.

At the time, scientists didn’t know exactly where the methane was coming from – but now they’ve completed some research and published their findings.

Gas Flaring Does More Than Light Up the Skies

Sep 12, 2015
Laura Paskus

Away from any cities or streetlights, the nights here at Chaco Culture National Historic Park are dark. Looking up, it takes a little longer than usual to spot even the most familiar constellations. That’s because there are so many more stars visible across Orion’s shoulders or surrounding Gemini’s twins.

Ed Williams

The Obama Administration recently proposed new standards that would reduce methane emissions from natural gas operations across the country, and environmental advocates say the new rules could have some health benefits for people living near gas wells.

Laura Paskus

There used to be big talk about a big boom coming to the San Juan Basin. Industry thought they’d sink 20,000 new oil wells. Companies wanted to take advantage of oil deposits squeezed into tiny fissures in tight shale deep underground.

Oil And Gas Technology Drives Farmington Economy

Jun 8, 2015
Laura Paskus

Thanks to technologies like hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, New Mexico is one of the top natural gas producers in the world – 27th according to the latest annual numbers from 2012 just released by the American Petroleum Institute. But there’s more to the economics of drilling than just counting rigs and tallying profits.

Four Corners Methane Hotspot Presentations Online

May 26, 2015
Laura Paskus

Last month, citizens, local officials and state regulators from New Mexico and Colorado gathered in Farmington, N.M. to learn more about the methane anomaly over the Four Corners that is being studied by scientists across the nation.

VIDEO: Drilling Deep Series On NMPBS

May 4, 2015

Laura Paskus is reporting our Drilling Deep series on oil and gas development in northwestern New Mexico.

She's looking at issues surrounding flaring, the cultural implications of the oil and gas development and environmental impacts, to name a few. Recently, NMPBS' Sarah Gustavus spoke with Laura about the series on a segment of New Mexico in Focus. Check it out!

The Hunt For The Source Of Four Corners Methane

Apr 24, 2015
NASA

Scientists published a paper on methane levels across the globe last year—and their satellite images show the largest methane anomaly in the United States hovers over northwestern New Mexico. Now, some of the nation’s top scientists have come here to figure out where all that methane’s coming from.  

Shaky Ground: Fracking And Earthquakes

Mar 18, 2015
Wikimedia Commons / U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Inevitably, when talking about oil and gas development, the word fracking comes up in conversation.

In the coming weeks, KUNM will be airing more feature stories on oil development in northwestern New Mexico. And I'll be posting here about some of the more technical issues I explore, such as fracking, or hydraulic fracturing. 

Big Picture: Mapping New Oil And Gas Development

Feb 14, 2015
Laura Paskus

When the US Bureau of Land Management's Farmington District Manager, Victoria Barr, came into the KUNM studio for the Call In Show, she brought a brand-new map with her. She sent along the PDF, for those who would like to take a look at the active leases and special designated areas near Chaco Canyon National Historical Park.

Pipeline Plan Ignites Controversy

Feb 11, 2015
Laura Paskus

UPDATE 2/12: All told, the BLM ended up receiving about 30,000 comments on the proposed Piñon Pipeline. That's according to Victoria Barr of the BLM's Farmington Field Office who discussed oil and gas development in northwestern New Mexico on the KUNM Call In Show.   

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Oil Industry Creeps Up On Chaco Communities

Feb 9, 2015
Johnny Clark via Flickr / Creative Commons License

KUNM Call In Show 2/12 8a: 

Oil and gas development may be moving closer to Chaco Canyon National Historical Park and the many tribal communities in northwestern New Mexico. Residents there, along with archaeologists and advocates, are questioning the burgeoning development. 

What effect might encroachment have upon these communities? What about nearby ancient sites? How can we strike a balance between modern day energy needs, healthy communities and the preservation of ancient sites? 

Voices from Drilling Deep: Etta Arviso

Jan 26, 2015
Laura Paskus

Etta Arviso is one of the Diné – or, Navajo – women who I met last year in Counselor, New Mexico. She is an “allottee,” which means her family lives on land adjacent to the Navajo reservation that is held in trust by the United States government. 

In this audio clip, she introduces herself, talks about the history of her homeland and people, and voices her opposition to increased oil and gas development on the checkerboard lands of the eastern Navajo Nation.

Voices From Drilling Deep: Mark Martinez

Jan 23, 2015
Laura Paskus

    

In October, Pueblo of Zuni Councilman Mark Martinez and I viewed Chaco Canyon National Historical Park from above during an ecoFlight tour.

Martinez was interested in flying above the park to see the remains of ancient buildings and roads. And also to see nearby drill rigs, old and new.

The Pueblo of Zuni is just one of the tribes that asked the federal government to protect Chaco Canyon.

Voices From Drilling Deep: Mike Eisenfeld

Jan 21, 2015
Laura Paskus

While reporting this series, it's really easy to end up with more voices and moments than can ever be plopped into the four-minute feature stories that air on KUNM. That's why over the course of this project, I'll be sharing some of those moments with you online.

BLM Hosts Heated Meeting In Santa Fe

Jan 16, 2015
Laura Paskus

On Thursday night, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management hosted a crowded—and sometimes heated—public meeting in Santa Fe. Currently, the agency is considering a pipeline that would carry crude oil from northwestern New Mexico to rail lines along Interstate 40.

As it’s currently proposed, the 140-mile long pipeline would run across federal, private, state and Navajo Nation lands.  After local residents and activists complained, the agency agreed to extend the public comment period and hold three additional meetings.

Fronteras Desk Oil And Gas Regulation Series

Jan 15, 2015
Flcelloguy, via Wikimedia Commons

As part of KUNM's commitment to ongoing coverage of the oil and gas industry in New Mexico, we included a short series of stories on the regulation of this industry from reporter Mónica Ortiz Uribe who reports from El Paso, Texas, and Las Cruces, New Mexico, for the Fronteras Desk.

Laura Paskus

    

Sarah Jane White’s walking to the top of a sandy hill near the eastern edge of the Navajo reservation. Along the way, she points to footprints in the sand. Her 4-year-old grandson, Albino, crouches to look. She shows him the prints of a horse, then a cow. Each time, he’s delighted.

It’s sunny and warm, though just a few days before the official start of winter. We walk past juniper trees, an old sweat lodge. Albino powers across the sandstone arroyo and on up the hill. The sky’s a deep blue. And depending on the breeze, the air smells like either sage or pine.

Pipeline Meetings Scheduled for Next Week

Jan 6, 2015
Laura Paskus

In December, KUNM reported that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management was extending its public comment period for a proposed oil pipeline until January 30, 2015. The 130-mile long pipeline would run between Lybrook and Milan, N.M.

On December 31, the agency's Farmington Field Office announced additional public meetings on the pipeline.

New Mexico's Methane Problem

Jan 5, 2015
Laura Paskus

Last week, The Washington Post ran a story about the enormous plume of methane being produced in New Mexico.

As reporter Joby Warrick writes:

Pipeline Public Comment Period Extended

Dec 19, 2014
Laura Paskus

At a meeting Thursday, officials with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management agreed to give the public more time and opportunities to weigh in on a proposed oil pipeline.

Archaeologists Worry As Drilling Approaches Chaco

Dec 16, 2014
Laura Paskus

The oil and gas industry in New Mexico is a big deal. It supports the state budget with hundreds of millions of dollars each year. But there are impacts, too – on air quality, water, public health and even cultural sites. In the first installment of KUNM’s new series Drilling Deep, we explore northwestern New Mexico – and the Chacoan landscape.

To reach Chaco Culture National Historical Park, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, you hang a left off highway 550 near Nageezi, New Mexico and head south.

Laura Paskus

Over the next few months, I’m going to be exploring natural gas drilling and the burgeoning oil industry in northwestern New Mexico for KUNM. It’s an ambitious series, but I’m looking forward to learning how drilling affects the local economy, as well as the state of New Mexico’s coffers.

Drilling Deep: Flares By Night

Dec 16, 2014
Dom Smith at EcoFlight

The morning I flew out of the Farmington airport with Bruce Gordon, from ecoFlight, I had to leave Albuquerque long before the light of dawn. And while I didn't have much time for sight-seeing, I did take a few minutes to stop along the road in Lybrook, New Mexico, where drillers were flaring off excess gases from the oil wells.

Even in the daylight, the scene along Highway 550 is pretty dramatic these days.