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New Mexico Proposes Tougher Emission Rules For Oil & Gas

Oil and gas companies in New Mexico may be in for a rude awakening, with a new law that would disallow any oil and gas company exemptions for reducing emissions.

The New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) proposes a new rule that would improve air quality by removing all current exemptions for oil and gas wells and enact stricter emissions standards for the oil and gas industry.

The new proposed ozone rule, unveiled by the NMED this week, targets to reduce emissions of ozone precursor pollutants—volatile organic compounds and oxides of nitrogen—by nearly 260 million pounds annually and reduce methane emissions by over 851 million pounds annually. The rule will apply in New Mexico counties with high ozone levels, many of which are oil-producing counties such as Eddy County.

The proposed new rule strengthens emissions standards from a previous draft from last year, eliminating all exemptions for stripper wells and facilities formerly classified as such with “low potential to emit.”

The rule proposed by the NMED “sets foundational requirements for all oil and gas operators to calculate emissions and confirm their accuracy through a professional engineer, perform monthly checks for leaks and fix them within 15 days, and maintain records to demonstrate continuous compliance.”

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The proposed rule establishes emission reduction requirements for equipment like storage vessels, compressors, turbines, heaters, engines, pneumatic devices, produced water management units, and more. The rule would also set emission reduction requirements for processes such as well workovers, liquids unloading, pig launching and receiving, and more.

According to the NMED, once voted on and approved by the seven-member Environmental Improvement Board following a public hearing in the fall, the rule is anticipated to go into effect in March 2022.

“This rule will not only hold industry accountable but will also spur innovation and greener practices in the oil and gas fields. The effect will be equivalent to taking eight million cars off the road every year,” New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham said in a statement.


By Michael Kern for Oilprice.com

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