Restricting methane emissions from oil and gas operators was necessary to tackle climate change, said New Mexico Senator Carrie Hamblin (D-38), arguing that the effects of this pollution from fossil fuel development affected “disproportionately” minorities and communities of color in New Mexico. . .
Her comments came during a three-day public hearing on proposed US Environmental Protection Agency methane regulations that would expand federal restrictions not only on new oil and gas facilities but existing sources of emissions within the industry.
The Environmental Protection Agency put forward its proposal last month in response to an executive order issued by President Joe Biden in January that required federal agencies to reassess and review policy with the goal of reducing the climate impact on the United States.
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The EPA will release a revised proposal next year, incorporating public comments gathered at the hearing that began on Tuesday and ends on Thursday.
According to the report, the proposal would cut methane emissions by 41 million tons through 2035, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, and reduce volatile organic compounds (VOCS), which cause smog, by 12 million tons along with 480,000 tons. from air pollution.
The proposal would also result in $690 million worth of natural gas being obtained annually by 2030, resulting in net climate benefits of up to $49 billion between 2023 and 2035.
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The federal action came as New Mexico recently enacted several rules in the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Administration (EMNRD) and the New Mexico Environmental Administration (NMED) that specifically target the oil and gas industry as a major source of air pollution in the state. .
Hamblin, who is also CEO of the Green Chamber of Commerce in Las Cruces, which promotes environmental practices among local businesses, said the economic benefits of oil and gas production should not be underestimated over the health of the environment.
Hamblin said she has called on the EPA to revise its proposal to include stricter monitoring requirements for oil and gas operations of all sizes, and not to relax requirements for smaller facilities that can also pose a serious threat to the environment.
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The federal agency should also take action to end flaring, the practice of burning surplus natural gas, which New Mexico and others have recently sought to curb.
The EPA should do the same, Hamblin said.
“Oil and gas pollution is an issue of social and environmental justice, and communities across the country are being treated as disposable so that money can be made by the few of the many,” Hamblin said during her testimony on Tuesday.
“I urge the EPA to strengthen monitoring requirements. The EPA should require monitoring of smaller, highly polluted wells.”
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Carlsbad resident Kylie Schoppe said her community in the Permian Basin, one of the country’s most active oil fields in southeastern New Mexico, said stricter emissions controls proposed by the federal government would protect local “front line” communities where people live alongside Along with oil and gas operations.
These areas, such as Carlsbad, have been particularly affected by emissions from extraction facilities, she said.
Since the Permian Basin is shared between New Mexico and Texas, Schop said the federal government should create uniform regulations to ensure air pollution is regulated regardless of different state policies.
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While New Mexico has taken steps to reduce emissions such as banning most combustion activities, Shoup said neighboring Texas “has taken absolutely no action.”
“Emissions know no bounds,” she said. “This lack of action by my neighbors to the East has a direct impact on the health and environment in my community. I am asking you to move forward with your judgment and ban routine arson in order to show true support for my community who has done so much work to hold our state accountable.”
“Now it is your turn to exercise your jurisdiction in order to hold all nations accountable for what you put up in the air.”
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Organizations representing the oil and gas industry before the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have called that they should consider the costs that federal policy could impose on US extractions, and the possibility of an excessive regulatory burden impairing national energy production.
The industry supports more than 10 million jobs nationwide and about 8 percent of the U.S. economy, said Ken O’Conlin, vice president of exploration and production policy at the American Petroleum Institute.
He said the institute and its members, thousands of oil and gas companies across the country, support direct regulation of methane and are seeking technological developments within the private sector to limit the effects of extraction.
“We urge the EPA to carefully consider the availability and cost of equipment, labor, and other resources required to comply with the proposed standards,” O’Scannlain said. “These aspects are particularly critical in establishing viable implementation schedules given the hundreds of thousands of existing sources that may need retrofit.
Adrian Hedden can be reached at 575-618-7631, firstname.lastname@example.org, or AdrianHedden on Twitter.