SANTA FE, NM (AP) — New Mexico regulators have approved more rules aimed at tackling pollution from the oil and natural gas industry amid national debate over domestic production and concerns about the instability in the global energy market.
On Thursday, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s administration praised the rules, calling them among the strictest in the country.
“This is a major step forward in meeting our targets for reducing emissions and improving air quality. New Mexicans can be proud of the fact that we are leading the nation by putting in place rules that protect our families and their environment,” said re-election candidate Lujan Grisham.
The Democrat has pushed for more regulations throughout her first term and the rules approved this week by the state’s Environmental Improvement Council mark the second part of her pollution control plan accused of exacerbate climate change.
State oil and gas regulators passed separate rules earlier this year to limit venting and flaring at oil production sites to reduce methane pollution.
This latest effort, led by the state Department of Environment, focuses on oilfield equipment that emits smog-causing pollution, specifically volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides.
It includes minimum requirements for oil and natural gas producers to calculate their emissions and have them certified by engineers and to find and repair leaks on a regular basis. The rule would apply to compressors, turbines, heaters and other pneumatic devices used at production sites.
The New Mexico Oil and Gas Association, which represents producers, expects the new rules to reduce emissions. But industry officials said oil and gas production in New Mexico is only responsible for a small amount of the state’s ozone pollution.
Ozone pollutants can also be found in wildfire smoke and vehicle emissions. The US Environmental Protection Agency is considering classifying some of the nation’s largest cities as “severely” violators of ozone pollution.
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