State oil commission votes on fine enforcement - Albuquerque Journal

State oil commission votes on fine enforcement

This article has been corrected to reflect that New Mexico’s oil and gas industry generated a record $3.1 billion in state revenue in Fiscal Year ’19. 

The state Oil Conservation Commission voted Thursday to adopt rules to enforce fines for oil and natural gas companies that pollute New Mexico’s air and water.

The Oil Conservation Division of the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department had lost the bulk of that authority in a state Supreme Court case in 2009. The power to enforce most fines fell upon the state Attorney General. But last year’s House Bill 546 restored the division’s ability to issue fines to energy companies. The commission’s action Thursday echoes that legislation.

“Reinstating the Division’s authority to assess civil penalties gives us another tool in our toolbox to ensure that the oil and gas industry is acting responsibly in New Mexico,” Adrienne Sandoval, Oil Conservation Division director, said in a statement. “New Mexico is a great example of how industry can thrive while also being responsible, and this new rule is another step in the right direction to improving regulatory compliance and ensuring a level playing field for diligent operators.”

The vote comes the same day that the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association said the booming industry had generated a record $3.1 billion in state revenue in Fiscal Year 19. NMOGA had supported HB 546, saying that the law strikes a good balance of supporting industry while also protecting the state’s air and water.

Spills of oil or wastewater in the oil field are some of the energy industry violations that can now be penalized by OCD.

In 2018, OCD reported 1,712 violations by oil and gas companies, but collected no civil penalties. The division collected no fines from 2011 to 2015, and has issued only three fines since 2009.

“We applaud the Oil Conservation Commission’s leadership for holding bad actors accountable and pushing the industry in New Mexico to meet global and national standards,” said Jordan Smith, executive director of Climate Advocates Voces Unidas. “New Mexicans deserve a state-of-the-art industry with state-of-the-art safeguards to match and the OCC’s action is a step in the right direction.”

Under the new rules, OCD could levy fines of $2,000 to $10,000 a day.

Other state agencies are enforcing fines for energy companies that violate state air and water quality standards. In November 2019, the state Environment Department issued notices of violation to Matador Production Co. and Mewbourne Oil Co. for air quality issues at their southeast New Mexico facilities. Earlier this week, NMED notified two more natural gas operators that their Permian Basin facilities may be in violation of state emissions standards.

Theresa Davis is a Report for America corps member covering water and the environment for the Albuquerque Journal.


Home » News » New Mexico News » State oil commission votes on fine enforcement

Insert Question Legislature form in Legis only stories

Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email

taboola desktop

ABQjournal can get you answers in all pages


Questions about the Legislature?
Albuquerque Journal can get you answers
Email addresses are used solely for verification and to speed the verification process for repeat questioners.
California is lone holdout in Colorado River cuts proposal
ABQnews Seeker
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) -- Six western ... FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) -- Six western states that rely on water from the Colorado River have agreed on a model to dramatically cut water ...
Senate panel, on party-line vote, approves bill increasing minimum ...
ABQnews Seeker
A push to increase the minimum ... A push to increase the minimum age to buy certain firearms from 18 to 21 cleared its first Senate hurdle Monday, after a heated ...
Bill aimed at bolstering NM's patchwork rural health care ...
ABQnews Seeker
A proposal to tap New Mexico's ... A proposal to tap New Mexico's revenue windfall to bolster health care services in rural parts of the state where residents frequently have to ...
New Mexico bill to restrict lobbyist ‘revolving door’ advances
ABQnews Seeker
A proposal moving through the Senate ... A proposal moving through the Senate would prohibit former legislators and appointees working under the governor from returning immediately to the Roundhouse as paid ...
New Mexico’s checkerspot butterfly placed on Endangered Species List
ABQnews Seeker
With more Sacramento Mountains checkerspot butterflies ... With more Sacramento Mountains checkerspot butterflies being raised at the ABQ BioPark than found in the wild, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is ...
No drama for birthday llama: ABQ llama celebrates 27th ...
ABQnews Seeker
'This llama is bringing everyone together,' ... 'This llama is bringing everyone together,' says family friend
Photos: UNM Lobos men's basketball team take on Air ...
ABQnews Seeker
UNM College of Nursing programs receive high ranking from ...
ABQnews Seeker
The University of New Mexico's College ... The University of New Mexico's College of Nursing online master of science in nursing programs ...
Days after New Mexico records coldest temperature in lower ...
ABQnews Seeker
A small New Mexico village known ... A small New Mexico village known for its ski resort took the spot as one of the country's coldest places on Thursday last week. ...