Methane rule good for environment, consumers - Albuquerque Journal

Methane rule good for environment, consumers

The oil and gas industry often reminds us that the New Mexico economy depends on a strong oil and gas industry, and that’s not wrong. New Mexico gets about a third of its state income from oil and gas. But any stockbroker will tell you that an undiversified portfolio comes with significant risk. As we are experiencing now, periodic crashes in fossil fuel prices affect the whole state; cuts for education, senior services – Gov. Martinez is now ordering agencies to cut budgets by 5 percent across the board. One way to help us weather the current downturn is to make sure that oil and gas companies pay royalties on all of the natural gas they produce on public lands. The Bureau of Land Management’s new rule to minimize methane waste from venting, flaring and leaks will do just that.

Every year, oil and gas operations in New Mexico waste about $100 million worth of natural gas, resulting in $6 million in lost state royalties. This waste has led to a Delaware-sized cloud of the gas looming over the Four Corners region and an “F” grade from the American Lung Association for ozone pollution in San Juan County in 2016.

The U.S. Senate will vote as soon as this week on a resolution that would undo the BLM methane rule. Senators supporting the resolution, at the bidding of the oil and gas industry, are taking advantage of procedural loopholes to force a quick vote with little debate. New Mexico Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, both Democrats, lead a large group of New Mexico officials in opposing this industry-led attempt to void the rule, which would result in continued waste, forgone royalties for taxpayers and widespread pollution.

The BLM rule comes with minimal costs to operators. In fact, they will be able to make money selling saved gas. Economists found that, for 90 percent of the 13,493 active federal gas wells studied in the San Juan Basin, the part of the rule requiring leak detection and repair would increase income. Only the bottom 10 percent (the most marginal wells producing less than 15,000 cubic feet of methane per day) would incur a modest net cost – about a thousand bucks per year. Additionally, retrofitting operations with more efficient equipment, and finding and fixing leaks provides great potential for job growth in our state.

And the BLM methane waste rule is popular, too. A recent Colorado College poll found that 73 percent of New Mexicans and 81 percent of Westerners support the idea. Similar rules in Colorado have proven successful, with seven of 10 producers in one survey saying benefits outweigh the costs. The BLM crafted its rule carefully to fill in gaps and not duplicate the few state rules that do exist.

Even Gov. Susana Martinez has recognized the importance of curbing methane waste, ordering the New Mexico Oil Conservation Division to take steps with the “ultimate goal to reduce natural gas emissions,” which include requiring oil and gas operators to report the amounts of gas they vent (emit directly to the atmosphere unused) and flare (burn off unused) and to submit gas capture plans in new drilling applications. It’s surprising and disappointing that the governor is supporting efforts to kill a rule that would advance her own policy to prevent methane waste.

The persistent New Mexico methane hot spot is strong evidence that the industry has no plans to clean up its act unless this rule stays on the books. Today, New Mexicans near oil and gas development are breathing dirty air and the state is watching royalties blow away in the wind. But we have a tool to help us stop wasting a valuable public resource – to the benefit of New Mexicans’ health, our state’s economic stability, the climate and more. New Mexicans support the BLM methane rule. Let’s keep it.


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

Nativo Sponsored Content

Ad Tango

taboola desktop

MORE ARTICLES LIKE THIS

1
Halyna Hutchins remembered as a gifted cinematographer
ABQnews Seeker
Ukrainian native called herself a 'restless ... Ukrainian native called herself a 'restless dreamer' and 'adrenaline junkie'
2
APS bus drivers get a pay boost amid ongoing ...
ABQnews Seeker
Board of Education OKs hiring, referral ... Board of Education OKs hiring, referral bonuses as rate reaches $18 per hour
3
City: Official not drunk in accident
ABQnews Seeker
Allegation was made by Gonzales against ... Allegation was made by Gonzales against COO in mayoral debate with Keller
4
Las Cruces educator named NM Teacher of the Year
ABQnews Seeker
Lorynn Guerrero will represent New Mexico ... Lorynn Guerrero will represent New Mexico in the national competition
5
Longtime APS athletic director Barreras steps aside
Featured Sports
Albuquerque Public Schools will be searching ... Albuquerque Public Schools will be searching for a new athletic director.Kenny Barrera ...
6
Guns on movie and television sets: How does that ...
Entertainment
Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins died Thursday after ... Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins died Thursday after a prop firearm that actor Alec Baldwin was holdi ...
7
Prep volleyball: No. 1 Hope Christian beats defending state ...
Featured Sports
As the state tournament draws ever ... As the state tournament draws ever nearer, it's becoming more likely that the team everyone will be ...
8
In local Korn Ferry qualifier, stress falls upon middle ...
Featured Sports
When it comes to the qualifying ... When it comes to the qualifying school of the Korn Ferry Tour for professional golfers, Scott Harrin ...
9
Gonzales: It's time for Lobo offense to step up
College
During the past two weeks, the ... During the past two weeks, the University of New Mexico (2-5, 0-3 Mountain West) has scored two touc ...