image of Oil and gas fields near Chaco

Friday, Jan. 22, is a promising day for New Mexico taxpayers and for our health and climate.

On Friday morning, most of New Mexico’s congressional delegation sent a letter urging EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to not only strengthen and finalize its rule to reduce methane waste from new oil and gas drilling operations, but to issue a new rule addressing existing sources.

New Mexico’s senators and U.S. Reps. Ben R. Luján and Michelle Lujan Grisham noted the health benefits of reigning in the tons of escaped methane from thousands of oil and gas operations in New Mexico, as well as the economic benefits that capturing methane, the main ingredient in natural gas, would bring to the state and counties. New Mexico has missed out on more than $42 million in royalties since 2009 because of the waste.

Also Friday, the Bureau of Land Management proposed its own rule to curtail methane waste from existing sources. The BLM rule addresses drilling operations on public lands, while the EPA proposal includes private land. The BLM rule also addresses the wasteful practice of flaring of methane, which could be sold on the market, while the EPA rule does not.

Camilla Feibelman, Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter director, issued the following statement:

“Right now, oil and gas operations are wasting energy, wasting money and endangering people’s health.

“With the nation’s biggest methane cloud hanging over the Four Corners, and San Juan Basin oil and gas operations likely emitting more methane than the infamous Aliso Canyon, Calif., leak, the EPA and BLM proposals are just common sense.

“Reducing methane waste is also low-hanging fruit in preventing a climate crisis. Methane contributes to smog and soot, and it’s 80 times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, so it’s madness to allow millions of metric tons of it — and tens of millions of taxpayer dollars — to escape into the air.”

Chapter statement on BLM methane rule
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