New Mexico Regulators Consider More Oil and Gas Rules | New Mexico News


By SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN, Associated Press

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico regulators are considering adopting another set of rules proposed by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s administration to crack down on pollution across the oil and natural gas sector amid a rekindled national debate over domestic production as concerns grow over instability in the global energy market.

The proposal before the state Environmental Improvement Board is the second piece of the Democratic governor’s plan for tackling pollution blamed for exacerbating climate change. State oil and gas regulators adopted separate rules earlier this year to limit venting and flaring as a way to reduce methane pollution.

Board members were scheduled to start reviewing the proposal Thursday morning.

This latest effort, led by the state Environment Department, focuses on oilfield equipment that emits smog-causing pollution.

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New Mexico Environment Secretary James Kenney has touted the rules as the most comprehensive in the U.S.

The proposal includes minimum requirements for operators to calculate their emissions and have them certificated by an engineer and to find and fix leaks on a regular basis. The rule would apply to compressors, turbines, heaters and other pneumatic devices.

If companies violate the rule, they could be hit with notices of violation, orders to comply and possibly civil penalties.

New Mexico is home to part of the Permian Basin — one of the world’s most productive oilfields. Initial concerns focused on how New Mexico’s proposed rules could affect the industry and cut into state revenues. Those concerns shifted this week due to instability in the global energy market and the renewed debate over domestic production.

State House Minority Leader Jim Townsend pointed to skyrocketing gasoline prices and described the governor’s effort to limit oil and gas operations as “tone-deaf.”

“Our state is uniquely positioned to provide energy independence for our country and whether the progressives like that or not, we all need to do our part to ensure New Mexico and the United States of America are energy independent,” the Artesia Republican said. “New Mexicans across the board are feeling the burden of regressive political tactics that Lujan Grisham continues to force on each of us.”

Lujan Grisham earlier this week did join other governors in asking congressional leadership to support legislation that would suspend the federal gas tax until the end of the year.

As the emissions proposal was being finalized over the last year, environmentalists pressured the state not to allow any exceptions, pointing to elevated levels of emissions in New Mexico’s oilfields.

New Mexico officials have said that once adopted, the rule could lead to reductions in ozone-causing pollution that would equal taking 8 million cars off the road every year. Methane emissions also would be reduced as a result.

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