As New Mexico steps up its efforts to reduce methane waste and pollution from the oil and gas industry, the state is well-positioned to realize returns, in addition to the obvious public health and climate benefits.
The methane mitigation industry already boasts upward of 18 locations, including leak detection and repair services, equipment maintenance facilities, sales centers and a company headquarters. Enacting strong state methane waste and pollution rules by 2020 would be a win-win, protecting the health of New Mexicans and the environment while creating highly skilled, family-wage jobs and capturing lost tax and royalty revenue for public services like education.
In states with strong methane rules, such as Colorado, oil and gas companies are thriving while cutting emissions and repairing leaks to stop energy waste. Companies in New Mexico don’t operate under the same rules, and oil and gas operators here release more than 1 million metric tons of methane every year.
Methane is the primary component of natural gas, and the venting, flaring and leaks of methane waste more $275 million worth of natural gas annually. That’s enough natural gas to provide the heating and cooking needs to the entire state of New Mexico – two times over. Plus, wasted natural gas costs the state more than $40 million in lost tax and royalty revenue.
As oil production continues to grow in the Permian Basin, the waste issue is only going to get bigger. Some companies have stepped up and are implementing best practices, proving it is possible and necessary to reduce the impacts of methane waste and pollution across the state.
However, that is only a fraction of the industry, and we need every oil and gas company to be held to the same high standard.