As New Mexico’s gas and oil industry grows, emissions from the industry will present additional environmental challenges for our state. Studies estimate that New Mexico’s methane emissions, the most potent of all greenhouse gas emissions, are more than 1 million tons each year. The gas and oil industry’s practice of venting and flaring, two ways in which companies dispose of their waste gases, contribute to the methane emissions impact.
Data from 2018 from the New Mexico Oil Conservation Division indicated that companies flared 489,179 metric tons of methane and vented 50,240 metric tons, a 117 percent increase in flaring and a 56 percent increase in venting over the previous year. Methane is a key precursor gas of the harmful air pollutant tropospheric ozone and, according to a study published in Environmental Health Perspectives, Scientists at the University of York’s Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) estimate that long-term exposure to ozone is responsible for about 1 million premature respiratory deaths each year.
See an issue brief, Environmental Public Health Impacts of Unconventional Natural Gas Development Emissions, that the Network completed on methane emissions.