More pollution, less revenue for NM: Gov’s Environment dept. approves new “regulations”

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Once again Governor Martinez and her administration are prioritizing their big oil and gas donors’ interests while putting New Mexicans at risk from increased methane pollution. Last week, the New Mexico Environment Department approved permits that do NOT require oil and gas wells to check for leaks of methane or other pollutants. This once again places New Mexico on the bottom of a an important list as these new rules, or really lack of any rules, are among the weakest environmental protections in the nation.

Oh, and remember how leaked methane wastes taxpayers’ money to the tune of $244 MILLION every year? 

So what do the new permits and “regulations” do? Well, not much in terms of regulating anything. Of course, that’s just what groups like the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association spend so much money on every year lobbying in Santa Fe for. NMOGA’s Executive Director Ryan Flynn has openly flaunted that his aim is to make the huge lobby group “the most powerful organization in the state.” It seems to be working.

ProgressNow New Mexico, along with a host of other organizations in the state and around the country, has been tracking the massive waste of methane that occurs around the nation, especially on public lands in western states. Last month, nearly a half MILLION individuals submitted comments to the Secretary of the Interior’s office calling on maintaining the Obama-era Methane Rule that would require Oil and Gas companies to do a better job of capturing lost methane from venting, flaring, and leaks like those NOT required by New Mexico’s current new rules.

Hopefully with the Martinez administration on the way out these rules will only be in place for a limited amount of time. But until then, New Mexico’s oil and gas producers will likely keep losing millions of dollars in uncaptured methane that should be going to our schools, not to mention making continuing to put us all at risk from increased pollution.