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Range Reclamation Project Wins Environmental Excellence Award

November 07, 2017

The ongoing Range Reclamation Project conducted by Angelo State University’s Department of Agriculture and Department of Physics and Geosciences was recognized with the 2017 Bruno Hanson/Midland College Environmental Excellence Award by the Midland College Petroleum Professional Development Center (PPDC) on Nov. 6 at the Executive Oil Conference in Midland.

(L to R) Scott Scheffler (Shell), Adetola Abatan (Shell), Janell Ward, Paul W. Ward, Dr. James Ward (ASU) and Amir Gerges (Shell) with the 2017 Bruno Hanson Environmental Excellence Award(L to R) Scott Scheffler (Shell), Adetola Abatan (Shell), Janell Ward, Paul W. Ward, Dr. James Ward (ASU) and Amir Gerges (Shell) with the 2017 Bruno Hanson Environmental Excellence AwardThe award has been presented annually since 2001 to recognize an environmental project, procedure or proposal that exceeds energy industry standards and has an application in the Permian Basin of Texas. This year marks the first time the award has gone to a university and not an energy company. 

Dr. Cody ScottDr. Cody ScottASU’s Range Reclamation Project is developing research and strategies for reclaiming West Texas rangelands damaged by both salt water spillage and contaminated shallow aquifers as a result of oil field operations. It is co-directed by Dr. Cody Scott, professor of animal science and range scientist, and Dr. James Ward, associate professor of geology, and is funded by two separate gifts from the Shell Oil Exploration and Production Company totaling $191,500. 

Curtis Helms Jr., director of the PPDC, said, “The Range Reclamation Project was nominated as an example of responsible parties that have shown exceptional environmental stewardship and collaboration in research and the development of rangeland restoration projects in West Texas.” 

Dr. James WardDr. James WardThe first $116,500 gift from Shell came in March 2015 to begin the project, followed by a second $75,000 gift in February 2017 to sustain it. In addition to Scott and Ward, select undergraduate and graduate students in ASU’s geosciences and natural resource management programs are participating in the project, which has led to more than a dozen individual student research projects and master’s theses. Elements of the project are also being incorporated into geology and range management classes. 

The research and reclamation efforts are taking place on private West Texas ranches and in other West Texas rangeland areas. The ultimate goal is to develop the project into a long-term collaborative effort to help remediate multiple regions in West Texas. 

Shell was also recognized for its role in funding the project, and the Ward Family was also recognized for decades of range and reclamation work on their ranches near Balmorhea and San Angelo, elements of which have been developed into the Range Reclamation Project. 

The award is named for Bernold M. “Bruno” Hanson, a former president of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists and a pioneer in the development of environmentally-friendly exploration and production procedures for the energy industry. Past winners include Devon Energy (Oklahoma City), Pioneer Natural Resources (Irving), Mack Energy Company (Artesia, N.M.), Approach Resources (Fort Worth) and Callon Petroleum Operation Co. (Natchez).

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