April 23, 2016

Land Commissioner slams flaring rule, new ad

Photo Credit: blake.thornberry cc

New Mexico’s Commissioner of Public Lands opposes a proposed federal rule on flaring of natural gas.

Photo Credit: blake.thornberry cc

Photo Credit: blake.thornberry cc

Commissioner Aubrey Dunn announced he submitted comments against the proposed Bureau of Land Management rule and blamed slow approval of permits for much of the flaring that occurs.

Dunn also slammed a conservation group over ads airing on New Mexico TV that support the BLM proposal, calling the ads “all hat and no cattle.”

The group is the Western Values Project.

“An out of state special interest group, the so-called ‘Western Values Project’, is spending over $100,000 on TV ads in New Mexico urging BLM to stop venting and flaring,” Dunn said. “In reality, BLM itself has caused a significant amount of venting and flaring on federal and tribal lands because of delays in approving permits and rights-of-way for gas gathering lines. If BLM does not allow for gas to be transported from a well, it has to be flared safely.”

NM Political Report reached out to the Western Values Project for a response but did not receive one by press time.

In a letter from Dunn to BLM director Neil Kornze said the proposed rule “would greatly impact the revenues generated by the New Mexico State Land Office, constitute federal overreach and intrusion into the affairs of the NMSLO and would result in an undue environmental burden for the beneficiaries of the New Mexico State Land Trust.”

The full letter is available below.

BLM announced that the rule was coming last year; the final rule still is not in place. But it comes in the midst of a series of new rules designed to protect the environment.

These pushes by the Obama administration have faced legal challenges from conservatives; it is likely that the new BLM rule would face a legal challenge as well.