NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – The New Mexico Environment Department is looking for public input as they plan to push for new rules in a way that would lower emissions that are coming out of the Permian Basin. The New Mexico Environment Department says methane gas levels in the state have nearly doubled in three years.
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Sandra Ely, Environmental Protection Division Director for the New Mexico Environment Department, says that growth is coming from counties where oil production is strong and counties that have higher traffic.
“There is seven counties in the state currently with Eddy County, San Juan County, Chaves, Rio Arriba, Dona Ana that have elevated ozone level,” Ely said. “We are targeting pollutants that create ozone in order to bring those levels down to make sure that the air quality in those counties are healthy for the public.”
The proposed rules limit emissions from oil and gas operations in the state by requiring companies to detect and repair leaks as well as control other pollution sources. The state believes this will save oil and gas producers money by locating leaks quickly and fixing them.
This allows companies like Maze Environmental to step in and help those who produce oil. Maze recently developed new technology that would minimize the flare-up of methane from oil wells. CEO Brooks Pearce, says this is all in an effort to help companies keep costs down while maintaining a healthier planet.
“We’re all breathing the same air whether it’s on your state line or state line whether it’s in another country you know just as a whole methane omissions is like right now just gets a lot of attention and it deserves it,” Pearce said.
The department says leaks from oil and gas operations not only cause public health harms, especially to people living and working nearby but are responsible for 70% of state emissions of methane
“But it’s our job to show that oil and gas production can be a clean industry they got a bad reputation we want to be sure that the world doesn’t see them that way,” Ely said.
The New Mexico Oil and Gas Association says they are committed to protecting communities where they operate and support sound, science-based regulations to reduce methane emissions. There will be a public hearing taking place next month on September 20 with companies who are working with the state to meet the regulations. If the rules are adopted they will go into effect in spring 2022.