New Mexico Senators Tom Udall (r) and Martin Heinrich (l), both Democrats

Senators Udall & Heinrich can’t do this alone: Tell Sen McCain and Heller to stand up for clean air in the west

This tax season, we should be finding ways to save taxpayer dollars, not giving the oil and gas industry a pass to waste our money and pollute our air. We need our elected officials to stand up for us, not for the multi-billion dollar oil and gas industry. Drillers in western states dump millions of tons of methane – a greenhouse gas more powerful than CO2 and dangerous to the air we breathe – into our air each year. Like other mineral royalties in the west, drillers are supposed to pay royalties on the public resources they drill – but they don’t pay if they vent it into the air.  

An Obama-era rule required them to cap the leaks and stop venting public resources and royalties they owe us.

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

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.

Love (and Methane) is in the Air for Gov. Martinez

Governor Susana Martinez is in love. In love with oil and gas companies, that is. A couple of weeks ago, Gov. Martinez wrote a letter to U.S Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, urging Congress to repeal the “methane rule.”

She was referring, of course, to the Bureau of Land Management’s Methane and Waste Reduction Rule, which seeks to “reduce the waste of natural gas from flaring, venting, and leaks from oil and gas production on public and Indian lands.”

This is alarming for a number of reasons, including the fact that three years ago NASA discovered a methane spot the size of Delaware hovering above the San Juan Basin in northwestern New Mexico, home to tens of thousands of oil and gas wells. Martinez’s motives for doing this make no sense. The methane rule is a common sense regulation that protects the environment from careless oil and gas companies.

President Obama has a solution for Gov. Martinez’s budget mess

Cheap oil prices are good news for most Americans because they translate into lower costs at the pump. But low gas prices are bad news for New Mexicans because instead of diversifying our economy through investments in renewable energy or tax credits for Main Street businesses, Governor Martinez cut all of those things, drastically expanded oil and gas production and gambled on the the royalties those new wells provide the state’s coffers – 1 in every 5 dollars in state revenues. ABQ Journal: (2014) “New Mexico relies heavily on the oil and natural gas industries to fund state operations – about 19 percent of state general fund revenue comes directly from oil and gas taxes and royalties – but the energy industries are historically volatile.” NM Political Report: (2016) “[NM State University economist Dr. Jim Peach] said that New Mexico has a failed strategy of economic development and he separated the concept of growth from development.” Western Values Project:  (2016) “Because of low oil and gas prices, New Mexico is in desperate need of additional revenue.

BLM wants more comments on Methane Waste Rule

(News Release) The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has extended the public comment period for the recently proposed Methane and Waste Prevention Rule until April 22, 2016. This rule would update 30-year-old regulations to reduce the wasteful release of natural gas into the atmosphere from oil and gas operations on public and American Indian lands. The comment period was extended because of public request. After receiving multiple communications from the public requesting an extension of the comment period or opposing such an extension, the BLM is extending the comment period from the original April 8 deadline. The public will now have an additional 14 days, until to April 22, 2016, to review and comment on the draft rule.

Oh Damn. NASA just found a 2,500 sq. mi. cloud of methane hovering over the Four Corners. It is caused by “leaks” in drilling.

New Mexico’s natural gas producers have just created the country’s largest greenhouse gas disaster in the United States.   You can’t smell it or see it from the ground, but NASA scientists just announced that “leaks” from natural gas producers in New Mexico’s San Juan Basin have created a 2,500 square-mile cloud of methane hovering over the Four Corners. Damn. From NASA:
In each of the seven years studied from 2003-2009, the area released about 0.59 million metric tons of methane into the atmosphere. This is almost 3.5 times the estimate for the same area in the European Union’s widely used Emissions Database for Global Atmospheric Research.