NEW MEXICO (KRQE) –  President Joe Biden spoke at the COP27 climate summit in Egypt. There, he addressed the country’s effort to prevent oil and gas industry methane leaks.

In the past, researchers identified one of the largest methane hotspots in the country in northwest New Mexico in the Four Corners Area. The Director of the Sierra Club, Rio Grande Chapter, Camilla Feibelman said, “Methane, unfortunately, is a very potent greenhouse gas. It is 86 times more potent over a 20-year period than even Co2.”

Most of the methane hot spots came as a result of natural gas leaks. In many areas of New Mexico, schools, homes, and businesses are located near oil and gas extraction sites. “They complain of the smell, sometimes the impact on water, and certainly the impact on the air.”

With a new rule proposal, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) wants oil and gas operators to pay closer attention to methane leaks before they get worse. “They require more frequent leak detection and repair where you actually have to go out with an infrared camera and take a look and then repair those leaks if they’re occurring so that’s really important.”

The new EPA rule also gives community members the opportunity to help make sure these operators are complying.

Many Republicans in Congress have called the proposed changes a costly burden. This is a final draft rule and will be open to public comment through mid-February.

“Once those public comments are made, the agency will consider those public comments. They’ll decide whether to strengthen some last key aspects of the rule.”

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s office said her administration has been in close communication with the EPA as the agency developed the rule and looks forward to reviewing the draft. 

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KRQE tried contacting the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association for their take on this proposed rule and what it could mean for energy prices but did not hear back.