(SANTA FE, N.M.) This week New Mexico’s Environmental Improvement Board (EIB) preliminarily approved a nationally leading set of requirements that will curb oil and gas air and methane pollution.
Oil and gas operators in New Mexico emit over 1.1 million metric tons of methane annually alongside an additional 300,000 metric tons of smog-forming VOCs. Reducing this pollution is necessary to protect public health across the state and in key oil and gas producing counties with unhealthy air quality, including Eddy, Lea, and San Juan counties – all of which received failing grades for ozone pollution from the American Lung Association.
The rules will be implemented by the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED). Alongside standards finalized by the Oil Conservation Commission last year to end routine venting and flaring, these rules will also help stop unchecked waste of energy resources and increase energy security in light of the global energy crisis. New Mexico operators waste an estimated $275 million worth of natural gas every year through methane venting, flaring and leaks, which translates to approximately $45 million in foregone state revenue that could go to priorities like education.
The rules include key provisions given unanimous EIB approval such as comprehensive and frequent leak inspections at all wells and compressor stations as well as ensuring wells near homes and schools receive the most frequent inspections. These improvements have the support of a broad and diverse group of stakeholders including environmental, community and public health groups, NMED, the National Park Service and Oxy, the state’s second largest oil producer.
“The standards finalized today represent historic progress for the health and safety of communities across New Mexico. Gov. Lujan Grisham’s administration is showing the ambition needed to stop unchecked oil and gas pollution, increase energy security, protect public health and tackle the climate crisis. NMED’s rules, which address outsized emissions from smaller, leak-prone wells and protect those living closest to development with more frequent inspections to find and fix leaks, offer a powerful example for the EPA to build on as it advances nationwide methane protections.”
- Jon Goldstein, Senior Director, Regulatory & Legislative Affairs, Environmental Defense Fund
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