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Selected tag(s): New Mexico

Amid an oil and gas boom, New Mexico legislators need to refill regulators’ tanks

As lawmakers convene in Santa Fe for the current legislative session, they face a state transformed by an oil and gas boom. Expanded oil and gas drilling has made New Mexico the No. 3 oil producer in the nation and is transforming large swaths of the state’s landscape.

However, while oil and gas production has skyrocketed over the past decade, years of funding cuts under former Gov. Susana Martinez have left New Mexico’s energy and environmental agencies unable to guarantee oil and gas operations take place safely and responsibly.

The state’s leaders can chart a new course this year by ensuring these agencies have the resources they need to keep pace with industry’s growth and protect the health, air and water of New Mexicans across the state. This will mean going above and beyond the budget proposed for these agencies by Gov. Lujan Grisham in order to get vital regulators back on their feet.

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New Mexico legislation marks new focus on improved oil and gas oversight under Gov. Lujan Grisham

By Jon Goldstein and Nichole Saunders

When New Mexico legislators adjourned last Saturday, they had a long list of accomplishments for the first session under Gov. Lujan Grisham’s executive leadership. Near the top of that list is a bill that, once signed, will mark the first major legislative reform for the state’s oil and gas industry in over a decade.

House Bill 546 has significant implications for how the state oversees its large and growing oil and gas industry. This includes restoring crucial powers to the state’s main oil and gas regulator and enabling it to protect the state’s air and water resources from oil and gas pollution, as well as clarifying how New Mexico manages the massive volume of oilfield wastewater, or “produced water,” generated by operators. These reforms, championed by Sen. Richard Martinez, Rep. Nathan Small and Rep. Matthew McQueen will begin to deliver oil and gas policy that New Mexicans can be proud of.

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No time to waste: What lies ahead in New Mexico on methane policy?

The Cabinet Room was buzzing with (clean) energy on Tuesday as New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham was joined by her Energy Minerals and Natural Resources (EMNRD) Secretary Sarah Cottrell Propst and Environment Secretary Jim Kenney to sign one of the strongest climate executive orders in the nation.

Crucially, the order also directs New Mexico’s state agencies to move expeditiously and develop comprehensive, statewide methane regulations to cut energy wasted from the oil and gas industry and improve air quality.

Now the question becomes, “what next?”

Governor Lujan Grisham made her wishes for a speedy methane rule development clear in the executive order, directing her EMNRD and Environment Department to enact rules “as soon as practicable.”
And she set a high bar for the strength and inclusiveness of the methane rules when she said that, “Our goal is to eclipse states that are successfully doing this work.”

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EPA-New Mexico wastewater report is a conversation starter, not the final word

This blog was co-authored by Colin Leyden and Nichole Saunders

The Environmental Protection Agency and the outgoing Martinez administration in New Mexico have produced a draft white paper and solicited comments on potential ways to reuse or manage the growing volume of wastewater produced by the state’s oil and gas industry.

While the paper is a helpful outline of current produced water policy, New Mexico decision-makers should view it as a conversation starter and not the final word. When it comes to answering questions about whether the oil and gas industry’s wastewater can be safely reused for other purposes, like food crops, livestock or, as the white paper even suggests, drinking water, there are a number of other serious factors to be considered.

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WATCH: New Mexico Residents Cheer BLM for Tackling Methane Waste

Last month the Bureau of Land Management took a much needed step to prevent the oil and gas industry from needlessly wasting American energy resources.

For oil and gas companies operating on public and tribal lands, the new standards will reduce the amount of methane that operators can leak, vent or burn into the atmosphere. These methane emissions result in massive amount of energy waste that translates to lost revenues for federal taxpayers and tribes. One recent analysis suggests that without these standards, taxpayers could lose out on more than $800 million in royalty revenue over the next decade. Read More »

Posted in Air Quality, BLM Methane, Methane, Natural Gas, New Mexico / Also tagged | Comments are closed

What the New NASA ‘Hot Spot’ Study Tells Us About Methane Leaks

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Look up in New Mexico and on most days you’ll see the unmistakable blue skies that make the Southwest so unique.

But there’s also something hovering over the Four Corners that a naked eye can’t detect:  A 2,500-square mile cloud of methane, the highest concentration of the heat-trapping pollution anywhere in the United States. The Delaware-sized hot-spot was first reported in a study  two years ago.

At the time, researchers were confident the cloud was associated with fossil fuels, but unsure of the precise sources. Was it occurring naturally from the region’s coal beds or coming from a leaky oil and gas industry?

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