New Mexico Moves Forward on Capturing Methane. NMOGA Sulks

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Lucas
 Herndon
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This week Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham took New Mexico in a bold new direction with her Executive Order aimed at, broadly, the very real threat of climate change and, narrowly, curbing methane emissions in New Mexico. ProgressNow New Mexico has been one of many organizations talking about the need for such measures for a years and was happy to join dozens of such groups in publicly thanking the Governor for her bold leadership and living up to her campaign promises so quickly into her first term in office.

If you’ve been paying attention you know that methane is a huge issue in New Mexico. Currently the oil and gas industry in our state leaks more methane than anywhere else in the country. They leak so much they could heat every single home in the state every year. We’re talking millions and millions of dollars worth of wasted methane every year.

But thanks to the Gov’s new Executive Order, we’re on the right track to fix this problem.

But…

Members of the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association (NMOGA) have been less than thrilled, based on their responses in the press and on social media. But we can’t help but notice it sounds more like sour grapes than anything, especially when you look at their past comments about “self regulation” and how much effort is put into TALKING about change without doing anything about it.

For instance, after Tuesday’s announcement, a spokesperson for Anadarko Petroleum was quoted in the Carlsbad Current Argus as saying “more state regulations are unnecessary for an industry already heavily regulated at the federal level, and committed to preserving the environment.”

But just a few years ago, after Colorado moved forward with its own methane capture regulations, that same company was quoted saying it would adhere to the rules in Colorado:

“John Christiansen, a spokesman for Anadarko, said the Colorado rules offer “a very common-sense approach to constructively addressing something that is very important to the people of Colorado.” He hopes they will help “build public trust as we move forward with our operations there.” – Inside Climate News

Of course, they kinda tip their hat that they only cared about smarter regulations where they were required to and that they would, “have to gauge their effectiveness in Colorado before ‘[we] determine whether or not it applies to other areas.”  Considering they didn’t make those applications in New Mexico, it seems we know how they really felt about it.

Then there’s NMOGA itself. Their front-facing Twitter page appears to be supportive of these new regulations, or at least, grinning politely through gritted teeth maybe:

But throughout the last few years we’ve seen, both from their own accounts and from the spokesmen who front the organization, a very different attitude when it comes to common sense regulations. There’s this one from a few years ago:

Or this one, where NMOGA’s Executive Director Ryan Flynn puts the economic wellbeing of billionaire oil producers above the economic wellbeing of the citizens of New Mexico, not to mention the health and environmental wellbeing of anybody!

https://twitter.com/RyanFlynnNM/status/1042169636454916102

So let’s not get it twisted here. The extraction industry and organizations like NMOGA are going to continue to fight regulations at every turn, continue outspending every other lobby in the state, and continue to try and find any and every loophole they can to make a buck.

We saw clearly in the leaked speech from Flynn in 2017 what him and NMOGA members really think about methane.

“New Mexicans haven’t really made up their mind about methane, and they don’t quite understand the issue,” Flynn told meeting attendees. “So we believe we absolutely can win this fight, but we need to be proactive and we need to make sure we are communicating once again all the great things our industry is doing to reduce emissions, to innovate, and to stay ahead of the curve.”

As part of that effort, the association will “build an army” of supporters, he said, to increase turnout at meetings and digital engagement. Their core mission will be to deliver the message that the industry boosts the state’s budget, funding one in three teacher’s salaries and supporting 100,000 jobs.

“We’ve got a window right now, over the next year, to really put in place the pro-industry narrative at the federal level and at the state level,” he said. – Transcript ot Ryan Flynn speech at annual NMOGA meeting. Santa Fe Reporter: January 16,2018

For now, it appears New Mexico is in good hands with Lujan Grisham at the helm, listening to and acting upon good science and the will of the people. But there’s more to do and we know the industry isn’t going to quit anytime soon.

We’ll be keeping up with methane issues long after the session ends in March, so make sure you stay tuned to ProgressNow New Mexico for all your latest New Mexico political news!

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