«return to newslistRegulations and Benefits on Methane Mitigation

Mar 10, 2022 – 

The Environmental Improvement Board (EIB) is expected to make decisions soon on new rules to better protect our atmosphere from harmful methane pollution. The strongest possible ozone rules are needed because pollution has a significant impact on the health of all New Mexicans. These rules are important because air pollution and climate change put us all in a vulnerable position. Our children are at an even higher risk, as their lungs are still developing. Other populations at high risk include Black, Latino, and Indigenous communities who are often on the frontlines as they are more likely to live closest to oil and gas operations. 

“In the US, more than 9 million people live within a half-mile of oil and gas operations and 2.9 million children go to school within a half-mile of oil and gas operations, which puts their health at risk”

–Moms Clean Air Force

Let’s focus on the risk for children. Public health is significantly impacted by volatile compound emissions, such as benzene, toluene, and hydrogen sulfide, which are present in the methane that is vented or leaked from gas and oil operations. Even methane released in small continuous volumes is hazardous—creating the smog in the air we breathe and shortening the lives of those in the closest proximity of the emissions. Methane emissions increase the risk of asthma and cancer and are especially harmful to young developing lungs—putting children at risk from the start.

For New Mexico, these pollutants are especially dense in the Northwest and the Southeast corners of the state. NM’s top 15 oil and gas producers accounted for 78% of natural gas flaring in 2018, negatively impacting air quality. Fortunately, many of the state’s operators have begun taking steps to reduce their environmental impact but we still have a long way to go in reducing emissions.

We know that methane leaks can be mitigated through better maintenance and repair of equipment and technology monitoring. These practices and resources are available and there is no reason gas and oil companies should avoid these necessary steps. In 2016-2018, one-quarter of the major players in the industry successfully took steps to mitigate its risk to public health. Help us encourage the rest to do the same for clean air for the children now and a more stable climate ahead. 

While the EIB is currently not taking comments, you can still let them know that you support their adoption of the current version of the draft rules to protect New Mexicans. The EIB is currently meeting for deliberation and possible final decisions in the matter of proposed regulation 20.2.50 NMAC – Oil and Gas Sector – Ozone Precursor Pollutants EIB 21-27 (R).

Reference: https://www.spglobal.com/marketintelligence/en/news-insights/latest-news-headlines/top-15-new-mexico-oil-producers-flared-78-of-statewide-volume-in-2018-57160321