Efforts to pause fracking in New Mexico continued this year as a Senate bill was introduced that would halt hydraulic fracturing throughout the state.
The practice of fracking involves pumping a combination of water, sand and chemicals underground to break up subterranean shale deposits, allowing crude oil and natural gas to be extracted.
The Senate bill introduced by Democrat State Sen. Antoinette Sedillo Lopez of Bernalillo County would cease state issuance of permits for fracking operations for four years, seek to better define the practice and add additional requirements for operators in reporting use of the practice.
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The bill failed to move through the Legislature during the 2020 and 2019 legislative sessions, and as of Wednesday it was listed as pre-filed, unassigned to committee or given a number.
It drew criticism from oil and gas industry leaders in past years as placing an undue burden on operations and “banning” a practice credited for the recent booms in oil and gas development in New Mexico, which generated billion of dollars in state revenue.
Supporters of the initiative argued it would temporarily pause the issuance of fracking permits, aiming to slow the impact on the environment while such impacts were studied and better understood.
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In 2019, the New Mexico Legislative Finance Committee issued a report based on that year’s version of the bill – mostly consistent to this year’s – that said such a bill would cost the state up to $3.5 billion in revenue and $327.5 million to local governments.
Here are the key aspects of the latest fracking ban bill:
If passed, the bill would prohibit the New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department from issuing new permits to allow for fracking used in extracting oil and gas.
The halt would last until June 1, 2025 when the bill would be automatically repealed.
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The bill would add language to the Oil and Gas Act to define hydraulic fracturing as the process of injecting fluid into a rock formation containing oil and natural gas, adjacent to an oil and gas well.
Under the definition, fracking would be used either to create new fractures or expanding existing fracturing to draw oil or natural gas to the well.
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By Nov. 1 of each year, various state agencies would be required to report to the governor and certain legislative interim committees on fracking activity and its impacts.
The Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department (EMNRD) would be required to report the number of active permits and applications received for oil and gas development using fracking along with trends regarding methane and greenhouse gas emissions on a state, national and global level.
The Department would also be tasked with making recommendations for legislation and regulations regarding fracking and submitting a funding request for research needed for the reporting requirements.
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The New Mexico Department of Agriculture would be called on to submit a report on the impacts fracking had on agriculture, making similar recommendations and funding requests as EMNRD.
The New Mexico Environment Department would report on environmental impacts of fracking, while the Department of Health would report on its impact on public health.
Fracking’s impact on public transportation would be reported by the New Mexico Department of Transportation and the Office of the State Engineer would submit a report on fracking’s impact on ground and surface waters.
The State’s Department of Indian Affairs would report on fracking’s impact on tribal lands, governments and landowners, and the Worker’s Compensation Administration would provide an update on worker injuries arising during fracking operations, while the Department of Workforce Solutions would cover the number of workers engaged in fracking activities.
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Adrian Hedden can be reached at 575-628-5516, firstname.lastname@example.org or @AdrianHedden on Twitter.
This article originally appeared on Carlsbad Current-Argus: ‘Fracking ban’ reintroduced in New Mexico Legislature for third year
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