Oil and gas industry producing innovations for water use, not wasting it

The recent article on New Mexico selling out to the oil and gas industry (Journal, Oct. 15), is just not true. Ms. Evans is obviously unaware of the incredible changes that the oil and gas industry has made in green fracking. The evaluation for and identification of underground bodies of water are always part of any horizontal drilling operation, and done specifically to avoid any fresh water or brackish water aquifers. Also, the oil and gas industry has been working with the American Chemical Society’s Green Chemistry Institute since 2014 to reduce chemicals and to integrate green chemistry and engineering into the chemical supply chain for hydraulic fracturing.

Furthermore, almost all oil and gas developers now use flow-back water from their current well site, which they treat, and then reuse to do their fracking, eliminating their need for fresh water. New Mexico citizens should feel assured that the state’s savings account in water is not being reduced by oil and gas, rather it is being significantly enlarged due to oil and gas production. Millions of gallons of water are brought to the surface with extraction of oil or gas. That water requires treatment and the New Mexico Produced Water Research Consortium developed through New Mexico State University and the state of New Mexico, is working to evaluate the effectiveness of varied treatments in order for that water to provide some fit-for-purpose use that would save fresh water. The potential for industrial uses, or perhaps pumped storage hydropower as an energy source, or (providing) the water needed for hydrogen production, may be feasible, along with multiple other opportunities that are being evaluated, and will depend on the effectiveness of treatments.

The lawsuit Ms. Evans has introduced relates to an amendment to the Constitution by the Legislature in 1971: Article 20 Section 21. It did note that the Legislature was to control pollution and prevent despoilment of air, water, and other natural resources. In 2015 the NM Air Quality Control Act identified the competing interests related to control of air and water quality because of its varied sources and questioned how they might be addressed. Now, we see that Ms. Evans’ opinion is that we are squandering our water, not recognizing we are finding new sources of water and finding treatments that could allow multiple uses. We are also looking for answers to the current air emissions, and we are trying to provide the most needed resource for hydrogen production, which is water, so hydrogen fuel cells will be available to help reduce toxic vehicle emissions.

The opportunities for beneficial use of the treated produced water that comes from oil and gas is boundless. The effort to make it work is progressing with multiple surrounding states having joined us in this effort. Oil and gas extraction provides the water, that when treated, may provide multiple useful opportunities for many New Mexico businesses, cities, and environmental opportunities now and into the future.

New Mexico has not sold out. It has promoted the common sense use of its gifted resources for economic development that provides jobs for our citizens, opportunities for educational funds, preschool classes, medical assistance, and multiple other services that would not exist without the royalties of oil and gas. And, fortunately, the water it produces may be our best gift of all.

Source: https://www.abqjournal.com/