Today the New Mexico Energy, Minerals, and Natural Resources Department and the New Mexico Environment Department released their long-awaited normas to reduce methane waste and pollution from the oil and gas industry in the state. WELC’s Dr. Thomas Singer, who participated in the agency’s Methane Advisory Panel, says these rules contain some groundbreaking provisions to reduce waste and provide tough provisions to ensure enforcement.

“It’s good news that Gov. Lujan Grisham’s administration is on track to finalize the rule by the end of 2020, and upon first look it is wide-reaching, sets tough standards, and should deliver real reductions,” said Dr. Thomas Singer with the Western Environmental Law Center. “We still need to carefully go through the fine print to determine whether the rules take effect quickly enough to achieve the governor’s climate goals, and if exemptions are appropriately limited to prevent loopholes that would undermine the purpose of the rules. We also want to make sure the rules adequately limit venting of raw methane that is particularly damaging to the climate as well as routine flaring which unjustly shifts costs from oil and gas companies onto the public, and that they do not unduly exempt New Mexico’s many low-producing wells and smaller facilities which, collectively, are a significant source of methane waste and pollution.”

The rules, a key element of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s ambitious climate strategy, are comprehensive in coverage – producers as well as pipeline and processing companies will all have to rein in their waste and pollution.

The rules’ call for 98% capture and use by 2026 should yield major reductions in statewide methane emissions, in particular for companies that have performed poorly on this issue.

El problema del metano en Nuevo México:

The oil and gas industry is the primary cause of the Delaware-sized methane hot spot above the Four Corners. Aging oil and gas infrastructure and industry business and operating practices result in the waste of an EDF-estimated 1 million metric tons of methane per year. This is the equivalent to the greenhouse gas emissions of almost 30 million cars or more than 20 coal fired power plants. OCD statistics show venting increased by 56 percent and flaring increased by 117 percent in 2018. Preliminary figures for 2019 indicate that venting and flaring is continuing to grow. Over 500,000 metric tons of methane were wasted in the New Mexico Permian in 2018, 4% of total gas production, just from venting and flaring of “associated gas” produced alongside oil but not sent to market.

Los nuevomexicanos pierden más de $40 millones cada año en regalías que los operadores no están obligados a pagar por el petróleo o el gas producido en tierras federales o estatales cuando ventilan, queman o filtran metano en lugar de venderlo. Los nuevomexicanos también enfrentan graves amenazas por el aumento de las temperaturas, la disminución de la capa de nieve, el aumento del peligro de incendios forestales y otros impactos provocados por un clima cambiante: impactos en nuestro patrimonio natural y cultural y nuestra capacidad para apoyar una economía próspera y duradera para todos. La industria del petróleo y el gas exacerba estas amenazas al desperdiciar metano, un contaminante climático con más de 80 veces la potencia del dióxido de carbono para impulsar el cambio climático. Además, las mismas prácticas que provocan el desecho de metano también liberan compuestos orgánicos volátiles. Estos contaminantes del aire contribuyen a la formación de ozono, que está "vinculado a una amplia gama de efectos sobre la salud, incluido el agravamiento del asma, el aumento de las visitas a la sala de emergencias y los ingresos hospitalarios, y la muerte prematura". Las prácticas derrochadoras de la industria también liberan sustancias tóxicas en el aire, como benceno, etilbenceno y n-hexano, "sospechosas de causar cáncer y otros efectos graves para la salud".

contactos:

Thomas Singer, Centro de Derecho Ambiental Occidental, 505-231-1070,

Erik Schlenker-Goodrich, Centro de Derecho Ambiental Occidental, 575-751-0351,

es_MXEspañol de México