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NM can work together, lead on methane reform

There’s a popular saying: If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.

New Mexico is facing some big challenges and, across state government, we have ambitious goals to turn these challenges into opportunities. For the New Mexico Environment Department and the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department, the executive order signed by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham committing New Mexico to climate action lays out a road map toward leading on climate change solutions.

To begin mitigating the impacts of climate change, our departments are convening an interagency Climate Change Task Force to identify how our state can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve air quality and curb methane emissions so we can take the lead on this critical issue of our time. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, and the oil and gas industry is the largest industrial source of methane emissions. A 2017 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency inventory of sources and sinks lists oil and gas as contributing 31% of methane emissions. Methane is emitted by oil and gas operations, including venting, flaring and leaks. The executive order directs our departments to “jointly develop a statewide, enforceable regulatory framework to secure reductions in oil and gas sector emissions and to prevent waste from new and existing sources and enact such rules as soon as practicable.”

Thanks to the extensive expertise of our staff, we are confident in our ability to develop meaningful, data-driven regulations.

But these are complicated issues with no one simple solution, which is why our departments are spending this summer engaging with stakeholders from industry, tribal governments, non-governmental organizations and the public to hear ideas, gain perspective and address concerns about methane regulations moving forward.

As we’ve seen on the federal and state levels, methane rules face tough challenges. Our departments are taking a holistic approach and engaging with as many stakeholders as possible to create cutting-edge rules that can set an example for the rest of the nation. By engaging stakeholders on best-available technologies and best management practices, listening to health and environmental concerns from constituents across the state and gathering data to drive our regulations, we’re making sure our rules are strong, practical and long-lasting.

In July and August, our departments are hosting public stakeholder engagement sessions to present ideas, gather feedback and ensure our process is transparent. To get this right, we need as many New Mexicans as possible involved.

Right now, thanks to the governor’s clear directives on addressing climate change, other states are looking to New Mexico. We have the opportunity to lead on methane, and we fully intend to, with the help of people and organizations from all backgrounds and all parts of our state.

Make sure to check our websites for updates on the process and how you can stay involved. Together, we’re sure to go far on the road toward addressing climate change.

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