NM Hearing Set Tuesday on Proposed BLM Methane Rule

FARMINGTON, N.M. – The Bureau of Land Management will hold a public hearing in Farmington on Tuesday about proposed regulations for releasing natural gas from wells on federal lands. According to the agency, the rule is designed to reduce venting, leaking and flaring of methane to cut waste and emissions, and also provide a fair return for taxpayers.

Joshua Mantell, The Wilderness Society’s carbon management campaign manager, said it’s important that people show up and express their opinions. “BLM is hoping to hear from the American people on why this matters – and this matters because this is a shared resource,” he said. “The natural gas and oil that is being extracted on federal lands is owned by every single American.”

Mantell said New Mexico has the nation’s largest amount of oil and gas production on public land, so it’s the most affected by the proposal. He said NASA maps show a cloud of methane over northern New Mexico about the size of Delaware, and that in the last few years, the state has lost more than $42 million to wasted natural gas.

Joe Maestas, a Santa Fe city councilor, said he thinks it’s important that if the BLM makes a new rule, the agency also should institute a strong monitoring system to ensure that it’s being followed. “They should ask for more frequent inspections,” he said, “to ensure that there aren’t any leaks, ensure that these operators are using the best technology, to apply all the efficiencies that technology can bear to effectively manage methane.”

The public hearing will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. Tuesday at San Juan College in Farmington.

The BLM said each person who wants to speak must register before the hearing begins and will have three minutes to make their remarks. Information about the hearing is online here. The text of the proposed rule is here.

Author: Mark Richardson, Public News Service