Citing Methane Waste Concerns Absent State and Federal Standards, Conservation Groups File Protest on New Mexico Lease Sale

Joint Statement from Environmental Defense Fund and The Wilderness Society

May 28, 2019
Matt McGee, (512) 691-3478,

(ROSWELL, N.M.) Today Environmental Defense Fund and The Wilderness Society filed a formal protest of the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) plans to lease parcels of public land in southeastern New Mexico’s booming Permian Basin for oil and gas development without adequate controls to limit methane waste. BLM estimates this sale, and ones like it, over the next 20 years could add up to 6,000 new wells to the Carlsbad region. This development could lead to the waste of $16.5 million worth of natural gas per year over the next decade, and add over 81,000 tons of harmful pollution to the atmosphere every year.

The most current scientific estimates from New Mexico show a large and growing methane waste problem, particularly from rapidly growing oil and gas development in the state’s Permian Basin where this lease sale is located. EDF estimates that venting, flaring and leaks waste $275 million of natural gas per year across New Mexico. Flaring alone accounts for nearly $70 million worth of natural gas waste in New Mexico per year.

If captured, this would translate to $43 million per year in additional tax and royalty revenue that could otherwise be invested in things like education and infrastructure. EDF’s analysis estimates upstream oil and gas operations in New Mexico emit at least 1 million metric tons of methane a year and the three counties in New Mexico’s Permian Basin (Eddy, Lea and Chaves) where this lease sale is located account for more than 70% of these emissions.

“By allowing for tens of millions of dollars in more waste and hundreds of thousands of tons in increased pollution, the Bureau of Land Management is putting industry interests ahead of New Mexico communities and taxpayers. As BLM abdicates its responsibility to the people of New Mexico, the state must step up to the plate to reduce methane pollution and waste.”

  • Jon Goldstein, Director of Regulatory and Legislative Affairs, Environmental Defense Fund

“More methane is wasted from oil and gas production on federal and tribal lands in New Mexico than any other state in the nation, and yet the Bureau of Land Management continues to carelessly operate as if this fact does not exist. Moving ahead with lease sales in New Mexico that do not establish controls to limit methane waste is a bad deal for taxpayers, public health and the environment.”

  • Chase Huntley, Senior Director, Energy and Climate Program at The Wilderness Society

# # #

Environmental Defense Fund (, a leading international nonprofit organization, creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems. EDF links science, economics, law and innovative private-sector partnerships. Connect with us on EDF’s Energy Exchange blog, Twitter and Facebook.

The Wilderness Society (
), founded in 1935, is the leading conservation organization working to protect wilderness and inspire Americans to care for our wild places. With more than one million members and supporters, The Wilderness Society has led the effort to permanently protect 109 million acres of wilderness and to ensure sound management of our shared national lands.