October 25, 2019

Guv, NMED speak out against Trump administration’s EPA methane regulation rollbacks

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Flare Off & Pumpjack (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) by blake.thornberry

Permian Basin Oil Field in Eddy County, NM. Matador Production Company and Mewbourne Oil Company were both cited by NMED for violating the state’s Air Quality Control Act with regard to methane emissions.

The New Mexico Environment Department and Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham strongly oppose the EPA’s proposal to roll back regulations for methane and other emissions from the oil and gas industry.

The EPA proposed removing some regulations covering methane and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from transmission and storage sources and processing and production operations. The proposed rule changes will “save the industry millions of dollars in compliance costs each year,” the EPA said, “while maintaining health and environmental regulations on oil and gas sources that the agency considers appropriate.”

RELATED: While state grapples with new methane rules, EPA wants to end some methane emissions limits all together

NMED Secretary James Kenney submitted comments in opposition to the proposal to the EPA Thursday night. Kenney argued the proposed rule “preempts state law while imposing significant burdens upon state environmental agencies.”

“The proposed revisions will significantly degrade air quality and adversely impact public health throughout the U.S., including the State of New Mexico,” Kenney said.  

Kenny’s comments came after the EPA held a hearing on the proposal in Dallas last week. Several residents from New Mexico testified at the hearing, as did a representative of NMED. New Mexico residents living in and around the Permian Basin complained of blisters, nosebleeds and headaches as a result, they claim of emissions released by nearby oil and gas wells, according to the Carlsbad Current Argus

NMED Environmental Protection Division director Sandra Ely said the EPA should hold a second hearing on the proposal in New Mexico. “Our state will be uniquely affected by this proposal and the State should be provided an opportunity for more robust public involvement from those affected by the proposal,” Ely said in her testimony. “A single public hearing and 60-day public comment period are woefully inadequate and disappointing, given the scope and consequences of this action.”

RELATED: Guv. announces ‘data refinery’ to track methane emissions by satellite

“The Trump administration’s ongoing assault on the environment is unconscionable and must be fought at every opportunity,” said Lujan Grisham in a statement. “This is a federal government that has made clear it wants to move backward – at a moment in time when we can least afford it. In the face of a climate crisis, and with a federal government that is committed to an anti-science, anti-environment regulatory approach, states like New Mexico will take up the mantle of leadership. We will lead the transition to a renewable energy economy and take aggressive steps to limit greenhouse gas emissions. The Trump administration will not slow our progress on climate action.”