New Mexico needs a strong methane rule - Albuquerque Journal

New Mexico needs a strong methane rule

The health of our communities depends not just on the health of its residents, but on the health and stewardship of its air, water and land. As organizations dedicated to protecting the health of New Mexico’s children and families, Moms Clean Air Force and New Mexico Voices for Children appreciate Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s focus on public health as a guiding principle in her administration’s approach to a range of issues – from her deft leadership throughout the coronavirus pandemic to her commitment to reducing waste and pollution from the oil and gas industry. However, the work is far from done.

The governor set the stage for the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) to put forward a strong proposal to protect our air and climate by cutting methane and ozone-forming volatile organic compounds (VOCs) released by oil and gas operators. New Mexico is home to some of the worst methane pollution in the country with 1.1 million metric tons of methane being released through venting, flaring, and leaks – the equivalent of all the greenhouse gas pollution created by almost 8 million cars per year.

Methane and other oil and gas pollutants contribute to ground-level ozone. With 97% of the state’s oil and gas wells clustered in just five New Mexico counties, it should not be surprising that all five counties are at risk of violating federal ozone standards. This health-harming pollution can damage developing lungs, trigger asthma attacks and increase lung infections. Oil and gas operations also release hazardous air pollutants such as benzene – a known carcinogen – putting more than 130,000 New Mexicans who live within a half-mile of oil and gas development at greatest risk.

The governor’s proposal can go a long way toward ensuring the long-term health of our families and communities. Gov. Lujan Grisham and Secretary Jim Kenney deserve credit for being responsive to the concerns of people across the state by developing a common-sense proposal to protect our children’s health and future. However, there’s still more work to be done to protect front-line communities and address major pollution sources to meet the governor’s goal of enacting nation-leading rules to cut pollution.

Before the finalization of air rules, the NMED should make three key improvements to better protect public health. First, protect those living closest to development by requiring more frequent inspections to find and fix leaks. Second, require operators to control pollution during completion of a new oil or gas well, or when redeveloping an existing site.

Finally, NMED should strengthen requirements to cut pollution from the state’s second-largest source of oil and gas methane pollution: pneumatic controllers, which are used in oil and gas production to regulate temperatures and pressure. The department should require companies to inspect those devices for leaks and accelerate the time line to retrofit that equipment with zero-pollution devices.

A burst of state and federal action to reduce methane waste and pollution has created an unparalleled moment for improving public health in New Mexico, especially for vulnerable populations. We urge the governor and NMED to protect all New Mexicans by enacting the strongest possible final rule to curb this dangerous pollution and protect the health and future of our kids.

Home » Opinion » Guest Columns » New Mexico needs a strong methane rule


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 yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

1
NM expands help with filling court forms
ABQnews Seeker
Court-scribe program helps people understand and ... Court-scribe program helps people understand and complete documents
2
Supreme Court case threatens balance of power
From the newspaper
State courts must have oversight authority ... State courts must have oversight authority in federal elections
3
Keep your spending close to home
From the newspaper
Shop locally to keep small, independent ... Shop locally to keep small, independent businesses afloat
4
Los Ranchos controversy knits village closer
From the newspaper
Many have worked to get justice; ... Many have worked to get justice; their efforts will pay off
5
Editorial: Mastery over memory worth trying to help tackle ...
Editorials
The initial reaction by many Journal ... The initial reaction by many Journal readers to exploring equitable grading at Albuquerque Public Sc ...
6
Zero fares creates a more accessible, equitable transit system
From the newspaper
Let data, community input drive the ... Let data, community input drive the decision on ending popular pilot
7
The PED is asking for feedback on its new ...
ABQnews Seeker
Proposed are several rule changes to ... Proposed are several rule changes to implement the system, known as micro-credentials
8
A DEADLY YEAR
ABQnews Seeker
Montaño shooting marks record 115th homicide ... Montaño shooting marks record 115th homicide in city
9
Spelling bee competitors master craft one word at a ...
ABQnews Seeker
Favorite books help bee competitors get ... Favorite books help bee competitors get ready