New maps show 150,000 New Mexicans live w/in 1/2 mile of Oil and Gas pollution sources – do you?

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Courtesy Tim Hurst, CC license

There are 89 schools impacted by Oil and Gas pollution

New Mexico garners a large share of its revenue from Big Oil and Gas but what is it costing the state’s citizens in terms of health and well being? A new interactive site is being launched today that shows the proximity of communities to areas most affected by the daily pollution associated with the industry.


“Right now, the oil and gas industry is recklessly leaking millions of tons of methane pollution and toxic chemicals such as such as benzene, formaldehyde & ethylbenzene into the air that harm our health and speed up climate change,” said Camilla Feibelman, director of the Rio Grande Chapter of the Sierra Club. “These industrial leaks are like an invisible oil spill happening every day. That pollution can have devastating health impacts on the communities surrounding oil and gas development.”

The Oil and Gas Threat Map site shares significant data about the number of residents living within areas where pollution has been detected, schools and hospitals within range, and areas where cancer rates are higher than average for both state and national statistics.

“In New Mexico, more than 145,608 people live in areas within a half mile of oil and gas facilities that are associated with negative health impacts, including fetal defects and respiratory ailments. Doing nothing and continuing to put those people at risk is not acceptable,” said Doctor Mac Bowen in a press release about the new maps. “Safeguards are urgently needed to protect the public from existing sources of methane and other air pollution.”

Be sure to check out the terrifying images captured on infrared cameras, showing real time leaks from some of the state’s worst polluters.

Earlier this year we reported about the Bureau of Land Management asking for more input specifically about the methane leaks around New Mexico. That issue has been getting some attention again as former State Land Commissioner Ray Powell published a letter in the Albuquerque Journal last week calling for increases in methane captures that would reduce pollution and increase yield by New Mexico gas producers.

“Independent economists from the Conservation Economics Institute have found that the BLM measures to cut waste from venting, flaring and leaks from oil and gas operations on public and tribal lands will increase overall production, thereby increasing royalties, which support education in New Mexico,” Powell said.

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