April 12, 2017

These oil and gas jobs are clean (and growing in New Mexico!)

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Pumpjacks and Worker

Companies capturing stopping leaks of Methane and other greenhouse and polluting gases at oil and gas drilling sites are expanding rapidly in New Mexico a new report shows.

From the Public News Service – NM:

While cleaner air is good news for the environment in New Mexico, it might be just as big a boon to the job market, since these companies are hiring workers to perform methane mitigation. The report showed at least 60 mitigation companies working in 45 states.

Marcy Lowe, chief executive of Datu Research, a group related to Duke University that published the report, explained why it’s important to stop these leaks.

“Methane is a very powerful greenhouse gas,” she said. “Actually, in the short term, it’s more powerful than carbon dioxide. So, it’s very, very important to try to keep it out of the atmosphere.”

Critics of methane recapture have claimed this type of service comes with too high a price tag for natural-gas suppliers. However, Lowe pointed out that the savings from preventing the loss of product into the atmosphere nearly always outweigh the cost of stopping the leaks.

According to the report, unmitigated leaks cost an estimated $1.3 billion in lost natural gas each year, and that translates to more job opportunities for people in New Mexico. Especially in states with methane regulations, Lowe said, the mitigation industry has experienced up to 30 percent employment growth across a wide field of demographics.

The Datu report is online at edf.org.

New Mexico is home to the country’s largest methane cloud, an accumulation of methane gas hovering over the Four Corners area.  Each year, oil and gas companies pump millions of metric tons into the air above New Mexico and other western states.

A federal rule requiring companies to plug leaks and capture gas to sell on the market is currently being debated in Congress after President Trump asked Congress to repeal it to satisfy a request from the oil and gas industry.

New Mexico’s two US senators, Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, oppose the repeal but Governor Susana Martinez wrote a letter to Congress supporting the oil and gas industry’s position.  O&G interests were her largest campaign contributors in both elections for governor.

Senator Tom Udall is hosting a series of coordinated town halls on gas industry practices and clean air next week.  Learn more and sign up at methanerule.org