Press release: BLM's proposed regulation of methane leaks would benefit New Mexico and the world

For immediate release: May 6, 2013
Contact: Camilla Feibelman, camilla.feibelman@sierraclub.org, 505-715-8388

BLM's proposed methane-leak regulations beneficial to New Mexicans

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), in a huge step, is seeking public input on reducing methane waste from oil and gas production on public lands.

Methane is a greenhouse gas estimated to be 86 times stronger than carbon dioxide over a 20-year period. It's also the primary ingredient of natural gas.

The BLM is holding one of its nationwide forums on these proposed regulations in Albuquerque because New Mexico is on the front lines on this important issue: Of the 700 million acres of subsurface oil and gas resources managed by BLM in the U.S., 40 million are in New Mexico.

“The technology to minimize methane leaks is available already, cost-effective for the industry and would significantly reduce climate pollution. Less methane escaping into the atmosphere also means more natural gas for consumers and more royalties for New Mexico,” said Denise Fort, Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter Energy chair.

While natural gas has been touted as a cleaner-burning fuel than coal, studies show that methane leaks during drilling may make climate damage from natural gas equal to that of coal. The 2011 U.S. Greenhouse Gas Inventory revealed that the oil and gas industry vented, flared, or leaked methane comparable to the emissions from 204 coal-fired power plants.

“Reducing methane leaks from oil and gas venting and flaring is a cost-effective way to help our climate,” Fort said. "While no regulations can make oil and gas development entirely safe for the environment, the BLM can better protect New Mexicans by implementing safeguards that will limit the devastating effects of climate disruption and protect communities from dangerous smog.”

The Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter as well as other conservation groups and supporters will attend Wednesday’s forum to support strong protections from methane waste.

What: BLM Forum on Methane Venting and Flaring

When: 1 p.m. Wednesday, 
May 7

Where: National Indian Programs Training Center, 1011 Indian School Road NW, Albuquerque.