In a move that has raised eyebrows and sparked criticism, the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) is intensifying its efforts to “crack down” on oil and natural gas violations in the Permian and San Juan Basins over the next six months. While the NMED frames this initiative as a robust compliance assurance measure using space-based, aerial, and on-the-ground monitoring, detractors are expressing concerns about the potential consequences.
NMED Cabinet Secretary James Kenney bragged about “record fines levied and collected against the oil and natural gas industry,” saying despite that, “many operators are not taking compliance with federal and state air quality rules and permits seriously.”
“It’s clear Governor Lujan Grisham’s Environment Department is more concerned with getting money than getting things right,” said Larry Behrens, Communications Director for Power The Future. “These moves will do nothing but raise prices further, and it’s despicable for Secretary Kenney to brag about record fines while he takes in massive raises in his own salary. New Mexico’s energy industry already provides billions to Santa Fe, but it’s clear the Lujan Grisham administration has an insatiable appetite for more money.”
Over the coming months, NMED plans to collect compliance data through various monitoring methods, potentially referring enforcement matters to federal entities such as the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. This has fueled concerns about the department’s reliance on external agencies, possibly diverting resources from state-level responsibilities.
Director of Compliance and Enforcement, Bruce Baizel, defended the approach, stating, “Using innovative technologies to monitor oil and natural gas operations along with more conventional boots on the ground will prove effective in holding polluters accountable.”
One of the contentious aspects of the NMED’s strategy is its potential impact on the oil and gas industry in New Mexico. While the department asserts that this crackdown is necessary due to rising ozone levels and poor compliance rates, opponents fear that it might stifle industry efforts to improve environmental practices.
The directive also emphasizes the monitoring of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and Nitrogen Oxides (NOX), crucial components in the formation of ground-level ozone. However, critics question whether the NMED’s approach considers the economic implications and potential job losses that could result from stringent enforcement.
As the NMED moves forward with its aggressive enforcement strategy, the debate over eco-leftist policies that will kill the state’s primary source of income intensifies.
New Mexicans are paying over 58 percent more for gasoline than when Governor Lujan Grisham took office, according to Power The Future.