Environmentalists Decry “Loopholes” in Proposed New Mexico Emissions Rule

While serving as a visiting professor of economics at New York University and during one of his lectures, someone in his audience told Ludwig Von Mises about a loophole. Being from Austria and not having ever heard of the concept in English, Mises asked what a loophole meant. Upon having it explained to him, MIses acknowledged comprehending the idea saying: A loophole is where a little freedom exists. Freedom is exactly what environmentalists (if not the Left in general) abhors and it is translated into their hostility to fossil fuels that civilizations depend on.

Environmentalists Slam ‘Loopholes’ In Proposed N. M. Emissions Rule

By Jim Magill, October 27, 2020, Forbes

As two New Mexico regulatory agencies craft separate, but related, sets of new regulations to control emissions from oil and gas operations, environmentalists are concerned that one set of rules as currently written would exempt the vast majority of oil and gas operators in the state from oversight.

The two sets of rules, one — a gas-capture regulation being put forward by the New Mexico Oil Conservation Division (OCD) — and the other — a regulation to limit emissions of the gaseous precursors to ozone, being crafted by the state’s Environmental Department (NMED) — both have their origins in the ambitious Climate Strategy document that Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham introduced last year.

Earlier in October, the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department, the parent agency of OCD, released the final version of its proposed gas waste-reduction rule, which would require oil and gas operators to capture 98% of the natural gas produced by 2026. The state Environmental Department is expected to release its proposed final regulation sometime later this year.

Regulators from both agencies stress that the two sets of rules are being crafted to work in harmony with each other. However, while environmental groups generally have given high marks to the proposed OCD rule, they pan the NMED draft proposal as riddled with loopholes that will allow most oil and gas operators in the state to continue to pollute.

Camilla Feibelman, the director of the Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter, said that while the chapter is still analyzing the OCD methane rule, the successful implementation of that rule ultimately will hinge on the strength of the final Environment Department’ regulation. “The OCD rules only address venting and flaring, leaving management of leaks to the Environment Department,” Feibelman said in an email statement.

Meanwhile, Feibelman said that under the draft version of the NMED rules, the vast majority of the wells in the state would be exempt from leak detection and repair requirements. “Until we know whether this loophole has been closed, we can’t clearly evaluate the impact of the OCD rule,” she said.