NMED $5M fine welcome step toward protecting public, more steps needed

Background: The New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) on Tuesday announced the assessment of a $5.3M fine for air pollution violations to oil and gas operator DCP and demanded “immediate compliance with air permit emission limits and operational requirements.” The violations cited are consistent with air pollution Earthworks has documented at other sites owned by DCP–as well as many other operators–in the oil and gas fields of the Permian Shale Basin.

Statement by by Nathalie Eddy, Earthworks’ Colorado & New Mexico Field Advocate:

“We welcome NMED’s actions to hold a chronic oil and gas polluter accountable, and praise Governor Lujan-Grisham for doing the right thing by the people of southeastern New Mexico.

“But this must be just one step towards regularly upholding the law and protecting the public against oil and gas polluters.

“These recent fines apply to violations at only 8 oil and gas sites out of over 40,000 in the Permian Basin alone.  As Earthworks has extensively documented, many more Permian sites are polluting and warrant investigation.

“Our systems for actually preventing oil and gas industry pollution and harm are broken.  New Mexico must continue to regularly bring enforcement against all violators to cut the pollution that consistently impacts the health of residents and, further, move to manage industry’s decline to protect communities and our climate.”