The New Mexico Environmental Department and the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department have released the first draft of New Mexico’s plan to focus on methane emissions and lower levels of the harmful emission across the state. The final rule making process will take place in the fall, but according to EMNRD Secretary Sarah Cottrell Propst, the departments wanted the draft released to the public for input and review. “We felt it was very important for the public and the regulated community and anyone to be able to take a look at draft regulatory language side by side from our departments and give us feedback,” Secretary Cottrell Propst said at a news conference.
The new rules have been in the works for months, having been created with the input from stakeholders, oil and gas producers and environmental groups. NMBC participated in this process, providing input about the need to factor in implementation costs (social and economic) of any existing or new rules. Also a concern expressed by NMBC is that ‘broad brush – one size fits all’ rules would not be appropriate given the vast differences between large and small oil and gas producers and the uniqueness of the geographic production areas (ie., Permian Basin vs San Juan Basin).
The new standards will roll out in two phases and focus initially on robust data collection and information gathering before moving on to implementing gas capture requirements. According to state officials, the plan relies on the increased use of technology to overcome the lack of funding and resources for the already strained industry. At this stage, NMBC is evaluating the proposed rules, communicating with oil and gas industry leaders to include smaller New Mexico oil and gas producers.