New Mexico Environment Department Releases Strengthened Oil and Gas Air Pollution Proposal

EDF Statement from Jon Goldstein, Director of Regulatory and Legislative Affairs, Energy

May 6, 2021
Kelsey Robinson, (512) 691-3404,

(SANTA FE, NM) The New Mexico Environment Department today released its proposed final ozone precursor regulations for oil production sources and natural gas production, processing, storage and transmission sources including rules that address equipment leaks and malfunctions that account for 70% of the industry’s methane emissions problem.

“The New Mexico Environment Department has put forward a significantly improved proposal that will help protect our air and climate and New Mexico’s families from oil and gas pollution,” said Jon Goldstein, Director of Regulatory and Legislative Affairs at EDF. “Gov. Lujan Grisham and Secretary Jim Kenney deserve credit for the hard work that went into responding to the concerns of people across the state about exemptions in the original proposal. We look forward to reviewing the details of this proposal and working with NMED to ensure that the final rule protects New Mexico’s families and communities.” 

New Mexico is home to some of the worst methane pollution in the county. Oil and gas operators release 1.1 million metric tons of methane through venting, flaring and leaks.

An earlier draft of NMED’s air pollution rules, released in July 2020, included exemptions for wells based on production and pollution thresholds that would have left the vast majority of New Mexico’s oil and gas wells and their pollution exempt from oversight. While the proposed final rule has just been released and will require a thorough review including ensuring provisions are included to protect frontline communities and that pollution created during well completions is addressed, it is significant to note that it does eliminate the blanket exemptions.

Reducing methane waste and pollution is a key step in Gov. Lujan Grisham’s strategy in addressing air pollution and climate impacts caused by oil and gas facilities, and the governor has committed to enacting nation-leading methane emissions rules. The proposed NMED rule will complement rules finalized by the New Mexico Oil Conservation Commission in March that ban the practice of routine venting and flaring at new and existing wells across the state.

The Environmental Improvement Board will hold a hearing to finalize the rule later this year after a public comment period.

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