Ted Turner Gets Free Pass -Sacrifices 'green' goals for 'greenbacks'

Liberty Matters News Service


Environmentalists aren't raising the roof over Ted Turner's venture to mine for coal and drill for methane gas on his Vermejo Park Ranch in New Mexico.

Conservation groups usually scream bloody murder at the mere mention of oil and gas exploration in the U. S., but Turner gets a free pass from groups like the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership (TRCP) that, incidentally, gets major funding from the Ted Turner Foundation.

Jim Range, TRCP lawyer, says Turner is doing it right. "It's a model of the way exploration should be done," Range said.

With the recent upturn in natural gas prices, Turner's holdings are worth billions. He recently signed an agreement to double the number of gas wells on the Vermejo to 1,060 wells and El Paso Corporation is paying him a 6.5 percent royalty.

The Energy Future Coalition, also funded by Turner, lobbies lawmakers to require cleaner coal-burning technology and natural gas powered vehicles. Turner, who also charges $13,000 to hunt elk, mule deer and antelope on his ranch, has mandated the gas rigs must be concealed behind trees with small platforms marking their existence.

The same type drilling methods are proposed for ANWR, but environmentalists will have none of it.



New York Post ^ | 4/29/04 | PAUL THARP

Posted on 04/29/2004

April 29, 2004 -- Ted Turner may be biting the hand he feeds. The media mogul gives millions to environmental and conservation causes, but finds himself in the awkward position of having to drill more gas wells on his pristine wilderness ranch in New Mexico.

Some environmentalists have been on the warpath in Washington, D.C., for months to control gas exploration in his area and along the eastern face of the Rocky Mountains.

One conservation group on the forefront of the debate, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership (TRCP), gets major funding from the Ted Turner Foundation.

Its leader, conservation lawyer Jim Range, doesn't see a conflict because he says Turner runs his drilling operations in a clean, ecologically sound manner.

"It's a model of the way exploration should be done," he says.

Turner's Vermejo Park Ranch, about three-quarters of the size of Rhode Island, is rich with billions of dollars in coal and methane reserves.

Natural gas prices have more than quadrupled in the past two years, making Turner's land a richer gold mine than his media holdings once were.

Turner recently signed a deal to double the number of gas wells on his scenic wilderness to 1,060. The agreement more than doubles his mineral royalty rate to 6.5 percent with El Paso Corp., the gas driller that has the mineral exploitation rights to the land.

Natural gas has been rising in favor with environmental groups as a cleaner-burning alternative to oil.

The Energy Future Coalition, a clean-energy lobby group funded largely by two of Turner's charitable foundations, is lobbying Washington to require cleaner coal-burning technology and more smog-reducing vehicles - such as New York City's fleet of gas-burning city buses.

Turner once owned a $11 billion stake in Time Warner, but he sold much of it to fund his charitable causes, and currently owns shares worth about $672 million.

In 1997, he pledged $1 billion of his fortune to the United Nations Foundation, which says he's on track with his 15-year payment schedule.

At his ranch, where game hunters also spend $13,000 for brief hunting trips for elk, mule deer and antelope, Turner strictly supervises the gas exploration, concealing rigs behind tree plantings so they can't be readily seen. Ground surfaces generally aren't disturbed beyond a small platform rig.

El Paso says it will drill horizontal tunnels from current rigs to search for gas in the coalbed seams. The process is much cheaper, four times more likely to make a successful strike and - because it can be done from existing platforms in numerous directions, likes spokes of a wheel - causes less harm to the surrounding land.



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