The oil and gas industry in New Mexico is likely to come under some of the most stringent rules when it comes to the capture of methane gas from wells. The state proposed rules to require crude oil developers to capture at least 98% of the methane emissions by 2026.
The proposal, announced by state officials after consultations with industry, would impact drillers in New Mexico’s portion of the Permian Basin oil hub where production has surged in recent years.
“The draft rules lay out an achievable but ambitious timeline and leaves room for innovation in the oil and gas industry, incorporating key feedback received throughout the process,” said New Mexico Oil Conservation Division Director Adrienne Sandoval.
Other states have also implemented plans to cut methane emissions, including Colorado and Pennsylvania. The Trump administration, meanwhile, has reversed Obama-era regulations seeking to slash the emissions, calling them unnecessary and harmful to development.
Environmental groups welcomed the New Mexico proposal.
“Governor Lujan Grisham’s proposal is a critical step but loopholes for low producing wells must be closed to ensure we meet her commitment to create nation-leading methane waste and pollution rules,” said Barbara Webber, executive director of advocacy group Health Action New Mexico.
The New Mexico Oil and Gas Association did not say if it supported the proposals but said its members will continue providing technical expertise to the state.
New Mexico is seeking public comment on the proposal before finalizing it.
The Environmental Defense Fund said New Mexico’s drilling industry emits approximately a million metric tons of methane a year. That is the climate equivalent of 5.4 million cars, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.