A major methane plume hangs over the Four Corners, which includes northwestern New Mexico. The Permian Basin in southeastern New Mexico is a hot bed of oil & gas activity. Methane adds many times the amount of damage to the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. The air quality that results from methane emissions and other pollutants from fracking and conventional drilling has been associated with respiratory problems, cancer, and possible harm to pregnancies.
A series of public comments meetings in Farmington, Albuquerque, and Carlsbad were conducted for the public to learn about methane rules to be proposed by the state. The new rules would regulate venting, flaring and leaks of natural gas and promote capture of the natural gas now lost in the atmosphere. The benefits of increasing natural gas capture include larger state revenues, greater profits for the oil and gas industry, and less methane pollution for communities. The new approach has been described as a win-win-win for all stakeholders, including the public good. Below is a report from the meeting in Albuquerque.
During the meeting, the state was represented by the heads of the Environment Department (ED) and the Energy, Minerals, and Natural Resource Departments (EMNRD). The two departments will work together on writing the rules, although the ED sees methane as pollution while the EMNRD sees methane as waste [of a natural resource].
The public in attendance was standing room only in a large lecture hall and posed many technically sophisticated questions, many critical of the state approach. Native Americans wanted to know about tribal consultations and a timeline for writing and implementing the rules. It was pointed out that the public comments phase was at the beginning of the process though actual rule creation may begin in November. A question and answer section went on for an hour. Also there was a sign up sheet for two-minute public comments. Several elected officials were also in the audience. It was a meeting with quite a different flavor from the meeting earlier the same week in Farmington with contentious input from opponents to any change of the methane regime.
Public comments are invited. The Environment Department can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org The Energy, Minerals, and Natural Resources Department can be reached at email@example.com