Community members weigh in on NM methane rules

State agencies hear testimony from impacted residents in Carlsbad, NM

Carlsbad, NM — Today, the New Mexico Environment Department and the New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department held a public meeting in Carlsbad, NM to hear from impacted residents about air pollution from oil and gas operations near their homes, schools and work.

The meetings will inform a forthcoming rulemaking that aims to reduce methane pollution from oil and gas facilities. The rule is part of Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s commitment to address the climate crisis.

Methane is 86 times worse for climate than carbon dioxide. Reducing methane pollution also reduces health-harming pollutants like volatile organic compounds including known carcinogens like benzene.

Earthworks has documented methane and related air pollution using optical gas imaging that makes the normally invisible air pollution visible across the state. While Earthworks continues to file complaints, the state has yet to formally respond.

Community leaders and activists made the following statements:

“With my team at Earthworks, I’ve documented pollution from oil and gas facilities in the Permian and across our region. It is clear that we need new safeguards to reduce this pollution for our climate and communities,” said Nathalie Eddy, Earthworks CO & NM Field Advocate. “The Permian basin is one of the most active regions for oil and gas drilling right now, and in my experience it is also the most polluting.”

“We are the Wild West, but we are also God’s children that have a responsibility for our siblings around the world, and our posterity,” said Reverend Nick King of the Carlsbad Mennonite Church. “Of course there will always be poachers, polluters and outlaws. But we as a state have a responsibility to set standards, and enforce them.”

“I respectfully urge you to look past the distorted and categorically false claims of economic disaster and presumed job-killing motivations behind the proposed methane rules. They are fear, not fact,” said Reverend David Rogers of the First Christian Church of Carlsbad. “As people who live and work in this community, we all deserve to know all the facts, understand the risks, and have reasonable, responsible, and effective policies in place to protect the greater good.”

“Before the oil rigs my son was well, but since the oil rigs came he suffers from severe nosebleeds two or more times a week and even after having his nose cauterized he still suffers. When he goes to school in Roswell his nose clears up, but when he comes home it gushes again,” said local resident Penny George. “I wonder what is coming out of these facilities. What are the long term health effects? We need more monitoring and testing, more regulations and accountability.”

“I’m concerned about dangerous highways. A friend lost her husband two years ago in an early morning accident on the Hobbs/Carlsbad highway, and I saw two accidents on my way from Hobbs to Carlsbad just this week,” said local resident Nedra Reagan. “I’m concerned about health issues which effect nearly everyone I know, and our climate. It’s no secret that methane is a big contributor. I’m concerned about noise pollution and can’t accept that oilmen or anyone else has the right to invade a person’s home with their noise. I’m concerned that money and jobs seem to be the only thing that counts, while our quality of life is slipping away.”