New Mexico Begins Effort to Reduce Methane Pollution and Waste

Statement from Jon Goldstein, Director of Regulatory Affairs, Environmental Defense Fund

June 7, 2019
Matt McGee,, (512) 691-3478


(SANTA FE, N.M. – June 7, 2019) Today, New Mexico launched its effort to reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas industry. The state announced a stakeholder process, including a series of public meetings this summer, to inform new rules aimed at reducing the excessive amount of methane – a potent climate pollutant and valuable energy resource -- that oil and gas companies release into the atmosphere through leaking, venting and flaring. The announcement follows Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham's Executive Order that directs state agencies to develop comprehensive, statewide methane rules and to work together to reduce 45 percent of the state's greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

"Governor Lujan Grisham is fulfilling her campaign promise to protect New Mexico's children and families from oil and gas pollution and to crack down on the waste of hundreds of millions of dollar's worth of natural gas each year. Strong, enforceable methane standards will protect the health and well-being of future generations of New Mexicans and ensure oil and gas companies don't waste a resource that costs New Mexico's schools tens of millions per year in lost tax and royalty revenue."

· Jon Goldstein, Director of Regulatory Affairs, Environmental Defense Fund


New Mexico's methane problem has been making headlines since 2014 when researchers discovered a massive methane hotspot over the San Juan Basin – the most concentrated methane plume ever measured in the United States. Subsequent research indicates a growing methane pollution problem in the booming Permian basin as well.

A threat to health: Methane that leaks from oil and gas equipment contributes to climate change. It also leaks along with other pollution that can trigger asthma attacks, cause cancer and increase smog. In some oil- gas-producing regions of New Mexico, smog concentrations are getting dangerously close to reaching levels that U.S. scientists say is unsafe.

A threat to the economy: Methane is also the main component of natural gas – a valuable energy resource. Analyses indicate that each year, New Mexico's oil and gas companies waste $275 million worth of natural gas, which costs the state more than $40 million in lost royalty and tax revenue that could fund infrastructure improvements and public education. ost-effective regulations implemented in other oil- and gas-producing states have been effective at preventing pollution and energy waste. Meanwhile, with oil and gas development rapidly increasing in New Mexico, if action isn't taken increasing production will lead to even higher pollution levels.

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