NMED signals reprioritization of oil & gas enforcement, recognition of community advocates as enforcement allies.

Statement by Colorado and New Mexico Field Advocate Nathalie Eddy on the New Mexico Environment Department's (NMED) issuance of notices for potential violations prompted by formal complaints from community advocates:

“The NMED enforcement letters shift the burden of proof from the public to operators who must now demonstrate their named operations are not illegally polluting or else face direct civil enforcement action. The notices suggest that New Mexico is putting the public interest ahead of — or at least on equal footing with — the oil and gas industry’s pursuit of profits.

“Beyond cleaning up the individual operations named, NMED’s enforcement letters recognize that New Mexicans living with oil and gas production — involuntarily and continuously monitoring it — are important allies in protecting their own health & environment from oil and gas pollution.

“Yesterday’s news is a concrete validation that community and community-advocate complaints are a vital tool to reign in dangerous oil and gas pollution. Yet there is significantly more work to be done to eliminate this threat to health and climate in New Mexico.”

Background:

The New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) announced the issuance of enforcement letters concerning potential violations to 7 oil and gas operators as a result of formal, evidence-based complaints filed by Earthworks. Earthworks has filed more than 100 complaints over 18 months supported by optical gas imaging footage showing volatile organic compound air pollution.